Flyers

5 glaring stats behind the Flyers' start to 2018-19

5 glaring stats behind the Flyers' start to 2018-19

The Flyers are 4-5-0 and without back-to-back wins through their first nine games.

The numbers aren't pretty.

It all had general manager Ron Hextall discussing the state of the team Tuesday.

"I'm a pretty patient guy," Hextall said, "but things need to start going better here."

Let's look at five staggering stats behind the areas that must improve:

1. The No. 1 is obvious: goal prevention.

The Flyers entered Wednesday allowing the second-most goals in the NHL with 37, only one behind the Red Wings, who are the worst team in hockey at 1-6-2.

The play in net hasn't been good as the goalies own an .864 save percentage for a ranking of 30th in the league. And that's why goaltending is a concern.

But the effort in front of the net has been sloppy and porous, as well. Zone exits haven't been clean and too often are the Flyers trying to make a high-risk play or they're heavy in the offensive end that it results in an odd-man rush or coverage breakdown.

Just about everyone can be better. When they are, they give themselves a chance to win.

2. The Flyers' penalty kill ranked 27th in 2014-15 (77.1 percent), 20th in 2015-16 (80.5), 21st in 2016-17 (79.8) and 29th in 2017-18 (75.8).

Through the early going this season, it's 30th (68.8) and has allowed an NHL-high 10 goals. For the most part, over time, things have gotten worse.

You don't want to inflate ice time, but one option could be implementing some more of your skilled players on the PK. It creates a better chance of clears and puts pressure on the opposing power play when shorthanded opportunities are greater. 

3. The Flyers have scored first in just one of their nine games and came into Wednesday permitting a league-worst 12 first-period tallies.

To their credit, they have four wins when trailing first, but constantly having to fight back is not a trend the Flyers want to continue.

Following a slow start in Monday's 4-1 loss to the Avalanche, head coach Dave Hakstol didn't believe the issue was from his team not getting up for a game.

"It wasn't a lack of energy, it was a lack of execution with the puck," Hakstol said, "which gets us up ice and gives you a chance to build momentum inside the offensive zone rather than the puck is bouncing back and forth and we're not really setting a tone."

4. Typically, the Flyers' bread and butter is their power play. However, the man advantage is 1 for its last 14 over the past five games. 

This is where the absence of James van Riemsdyk really comes into play. The Flyers aren't as deep and don't have as many options to switch things up when the unit falls in a lull.

Still, the power play should be fine, but when the team's go-to strength isn't clicking, deficits ensue and comebacks are less likely.

5. This isn't an area the Flyers must improve, but it shows just how much the team is struggling in other facets.

The Flyers lead the NHL in faceoff win percentage at 57.4, which is so crucial to starting and dictating possession. However, when there are too many lapses after the draw, it won't matter much.

Last week, the Flyers won the faceoff battle with the Blue Jackets, 32-18, but lost, 6-3.

That shouldn't be happening.

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Flyers' Travis Konecny out indefinitely with concussion after hit from Mark Borowiecki

Flyers' Travis Konecny out indefinitely with concussion after hit from Mark Borowiecki

VOORHEES, N.J. — Monday started with bad news for the Flyers.

Travis Konecny, their 22-year-old leading scorer, is out indefinitely with a concussion.

Konecny was leveled in open ice by Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki during the first period of the Flyers' 4-3 win Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center. He left the game and never returned.

The 2015 first-round pick is on pace to shatter his career highs. He's been arguably the Flyers’ most important piece to their turnaround through 30 games of 2019-20.

He has 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists) after having 28 points through the team's first 50 games last season. The Flyers are 2-4-4 in games that he hasn't scored.

I didn’t know a ton about him. I knew he competed like hell, fiery player," Matt Niskanen, in his first year with the Flyers, said Monday. "Playing with him, that’s reinforced that thought — hungry on the puck, good quickness, really good at creating turnovers. He’s shown a pretty good scoring touch, too, so far this year. A lot of good tools and he’s been a really important player for us.

Philippe Myers left the Flyers' skill practice Monday with back spasms. With Konecny out and Myers potentially out for Wednesday's game in Colorado against the Avalanche (9:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN), the Flyers will most likely have only 12 healthy forwards and six healthy defensemen to open a three-game road trip.

Niskanen, who has 125 career postseason games on his résumé and a Stanley Cup title, said this can be a good challenge for the Flyers. The team is 12-3-4 and tied with the Capitals for the most points in the NHL at 28 since Nov. 1 (see weekly observations).

"Both guys have played really well for us," he said. "Hopefully they come back, we've been on a pretty good run here. But it gives somebody an opportunity and it tests us a little bit — and that's OK, early in the year, you're going to have to learn to deal with things."

As of Monday morning, the Flyers did not have plans to make a call-up. Forward Chris Stewart will enter the lineup and defenseman Robert Hagg will, as well, if Myers is unable to go in Colorado.

Head coach Alain Vigneault said it's uncertain if Konecny will or can travel with the Flyers. The team flies to Denver Tuesday afternoon.

"At this time, I would say no," Vigneault said, "but you never know how things change."

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Flyers weekly observations: Scott Laughton's importance, high praise for Ivan Provorov

Flyers weekly observations: Scott Laughton's importance, high praise for Ivan Provorov

While the Flyers lost their winning streak and point streak, they still put together a productive 2-1-0 week.

Alain Vigneault's team is 7-1-1 over its last nine games, a stretch in which the Flyers have allowed 2.11 goals per game. Since Nov. 1, the Flyers are 12-3-4 and tied with the Capitals for most points in the NHL at 28, continuing to make strides under the new coaching staff.

We'll get into that and more with our weekly observations:

• Scott Laughton's performance in Saturday's emotion-filled 4-3 win over the Senators served as a microcosm of his importance to the Flyers.

The team-first attitude, the hard skating, the physicality, the forechecking, the penalty killing and the secondary scoring.

He is not undervalued by the Flyers.

If I look at today’s game where it got heated, he’s one of the guys I thought that responded the best. He responded in a physical nature when the opportunity was there, but when he needed to make plays with the puck or defend, he did that — he did both of those things.

As a coach, it’s really easy to trust a player when he’s doing the right things and playing the right way on the ice.

- Vigneault

And check out these marks: the Flyers are 7-0-0 when Laughton records a point and 6-1-1 since his return following a 13-game absence because of a broken finger.

• In 30 games, Ivan Provorov has already matched his goal total from last season (seven) and set career highs on the power play (four goals, six assists).

He's projected to pass his numbers from a breakout 2017-18 season in which he scored 17 goals and 41 points. The 22-year-old's rebound from his letdown 2018-19 campaign might be the most impactful development to the Flyers' overall rebound so far in 2019-20.

Before the Coyotes' 3-1 win Thursday over the Flyers, Arizona head coach Rick Tocchet extolled Provorov.

"I think he's one of the best young defensemen in the league," Tocchet said, via Coyotes public relations.

"He plays with an edge in a sense that he doesn’t play safe. He’s up the ice, he makes plays, he’s not scared the way he plays. Not so much scared physically, just the way he plays, he’s trying to win the game. As a young guy, he wants to be in those spots. When I watch him, he wants the puck. I love young kids like that, they’re not scared.”

When asked if Provorov reminded him of anyone, Tocchet said "a little bit of Phil Housley," who is a Hall of Fame blueliner and now an assistant coach with Arizona.

• Carter Hart owns 10 wins and a 2.39 goals-against average.

By Dec. 8 of last season, Brian Elliott, Calvin Pickard, Anthony Stolarz, Michal Neuvirth and Alex Lyon had combined for 12 wins and a 3.30 goals-against average.

As much as some people want to knock the previous coaching staff, the Flyers were a mess in net at this point last season and things predictably unraveled. Really, from the outset of 2018-19, things were problematic between the pipes for the Flyers.

• One of the biggest signs of growth with the 2019-20 Flyers has been goal prevention. They've allowed 80 goals through 30 games. In 30 games last season, the Flyers gave up 111. That's 31 more goals.

A lot goes into that — goaltending and offseason acquisitions to name a few. But Vigneault's system has turned the Flyers into a more structured team.

Much more often compared to 2018-19, the Flyers, even if they're struggling to score, look like they're controlling games instead of letting the opposition do the honors. Through 30 games last season, the Flyers had 11 losses by three goals or more. This season, they have only four such defeats.

 

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