Flyers

After 2 wins in Southern California, are Flyers out of water?

After 2 wins in Southern California, are Flyers out of water?

The Flyers went out West this week and appeared to have righted the ship with wins in Anaheim and Los Angeles.

It's calmer waters around here right now but have the Flyers turned a corner?

NBC Sports Philadelphia's Tom Dougherty and Jordan Hall debate:

Dougherty
What a difference a few days make. Last weekend, the wheels fell off for the Flyers. Then, they were reassembled in Southern California during the first two legs of a four-game road trip. It's a dose of reality during the reactionary times we live in.

Maybe Dave Hakstol wasn't the team's biggest wart. Maybe firing Hakstol wasn't going to solve all the problems. Maybe a blockbuster move to change things up wasn't the answer.

But we weren't wrong in believing this. A lot of the same issues that have plagued this team the past three seasons resurfaced and you have to look at the one constant.

That is Hakstol. Realistically speaking, a decision on Hakstol would only have happened had this team gone out West and played the same way it did last Saturday in Philly.

Instead, the Flyers won two games, against a banged-up Ducks team and a bad Kings team. They were two games they should have won, and they did. Credit where credit is due.

Now, they face a real challenge Saturday night in San Jose with revenge on their mind. The Sharks are legit, and the Flyers learned that in their home opener.

The Flyers are far from out of the water, and drastic change remains on the table. Team defense remains leaky. The penalty kill stinks — eight PPGs allowed in the last six games.

Two important wins in SoCal doesn't erase anything. If they compete with the Sharks on Saturday night, then I'll say they're out of the water for now.

This team actually has expectations this season, and it hasn't gotten nearly close to showing us it deserves them. We can all use some patience, most of us have been using it.

That said, I don't believe we were wrong for being dramatic after last Saturday's loss to the Islanders. There were real reasons to consider going nuclear, no matter what history tells us.

Hall
Are the Flyers back? No.

Was their season in jeopardy after 11 games? No, that's even sillier.

Front office officials are not like fans. They don't react on emotion or make inflammatory decisions. 

And sports is such a what-have-you-done-for-me-now world. It's why so many live and die on every game. Fans love their team one day, then hate it the next. But they care, they're passionate, and it's great — I totally get it. They're just as important to the whole operation as anyone else. Fans make it go.

But sometimes, it's important to sit back, digest a game and then remember the bigger picture. The Flyers won back-to-back games against stumbling teams out West and suddenly there's some calmness to the storm. That's what a few victories can do.

But you don't see the Flyers acting like they won the Stanley Cup. Hakstol didn't crack a smile once in his postgame interviews. That's because they don't live and die with every game. They value every game, absolutely, but understand a deep breath and a glance at the long view is good.

So Saturday's matchup is important, just like the rest. I wouldn't treat it as this massive measuring stick or challenge, though. Because, really, the Flyers could lose to the Sharks, beat the Coyotes Monday and we'd consider a three-win four-game road trip a success.

And don't forget, a five-game homestand awaits and 36-goal scorer James van Riemsdyk is nearing a return. Maybe that got lost in the day-to-day, hour-by-hour panic.

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What was most troubling about Flyers' 0-2-1 road trip?

What was most troubling about Flyers' 0-2-1 road trip?

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Katie Emmer and Jordan Hall.

The topic: What was the most troubling aspect of the Flyers' 0-2-1 road trip?

Emmer

How many other NHL teams had to deal with the crazy travel schedule for the first five games of the season like the Flyers? You guessed it — none. 

No other team in the league traveled across nine different time zones to start its season and I believe the most troubling aspect of the road trip was just that — adjusting to time zones. 

From traveling to Lausanne, Switzerland, for the final preseason game to the final game of the three-game Western Canada road trip, the Flyers had flown over 14,853 miles, played in four different time zones and spent parts of 19 of 21 days on the road since Sept. 27.

Now that is a long road trip.

I think it’s fair to say the extensive travel led to phases of fatigue for the team. Battling through that many time zones in a short amount of time, all while trying to physically give your best efforts on the ice, wears anyone down. 

With action returning to the Wells Fargo Center this weekend, there’s potential to hit the reset button and start fresh on home ice against Dallas. 

On a side note — I’ve heard Jakub Voracek is a very nervous flier and I hope he was comforted during these trips by his teammates. 

Hall

Everyone heard it in the opening of the NHL Network’s “Behind The Glass” series.

“I want to score f---ing hard,” Alain Vigneault said, “and hard to the net.”

The Flyers focused on developing a brand of size and smarts during the offseason and preseason. Look at the additions to the lineup and roster:

Kevin Hayes — 6-foot-5, 216 pounds
Justin Braun — 6-foot-2, 205 pounds
Matt Niskanen — 6-foot-1, 203 pounds
Tyler Pitlick — 6-foot-2, 200 pounds
Connor Bunnaman — 6-foot-3, 226 pounds
Carsen Twarynski — 6-foot-2, 206 pounds
Chris Stewart — 6-foot-2, 243 pounds

But what happens when size and smarts square off with top-end speed and skill?

Will they be enough to combat and control the better teams?

The Flames and Oilers won that battle against the Flyers in the final two games of the road trip, outscoring the orange and black by a combined 9-4.

The Flyers have a new identity and system — the product can work.

However, it did not meet two early challenges. In the aftermath, you can’t blame anyone for wanting to see a whole lot more before believing this season will be different.

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Connor McDavid gives Flyers a nightmare finish to 0-2-1 road trip

Connor McDavid gives Flyers a nightmare finish to 0-2-1 road trip

BOX SCORE

Connor McDavid and company laced up the burners and blew past the Flyers on Wednesday night at Rogers Place.

The Flyers lost to the Oilers, 6-3, to finish their three-game road trip 0-2-1.

McDavid put on a five-point show to send the Flyers back home 2-2-1 overall. Alain Vigneault's team will look to find good vibes at home after traveling to Boston, New York, Lausanne, Switzerland, Prague, Czech Republic, Philadelphia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Calgary, Alberta and Edmonton, Alberta, over a span of 24 days (including the final three preseason games).

The Flyers actually had 52 shots to Edmonton's 22. You would have never guessed it.

The Oilers are 6-1-0 and scoring ... a lot.

• If you blinked, you missed McDavid and the Oilers flipping the game upside down. Trailing, 2-1, to start the middle stanza, the Flyers were actually all over Edmonton, putting six of the period's first seven shots on goal. The Flyers had a number of chances to score an early equalizer — maybe the game takes a different turn if they do.

Alas, they did not and McDavid then decided to pounce. The 22-year-old superstar went off for a goal and two assists in fewer than four minutes. Just like that, the Flyers were in a 5-1 hole.

McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and James Neal entered with a combined 16 goals in their team's six games — more goals than six NHL teams had in the same number of games or more.

The trio did further damage against the Flyers as McDavid finished with a goal and four assists, Draisaitl two goals and an assist, and Neal an assist.

• Carter Hart had a homecoming to forget. The 21-year-old from right outside of Edmonton (Sherwood Park) allowed four goals on 14 shots. The first two were more than stoppable, the third was McDavid being the best player in the world and the fourth was a power play tally.

Hart was not good and yanked in the second period. Prior to the outing, he had stopped 75 of 80 shots faced in his first three games.

• The first 10 minutes of a game are imperative to any road team in the NHL. The Flyers fell behind early in all three games of the Western Canada swing.

Against the Canucks, they trailed 5:01 into the game. Against the Flames, 1:35 into game. And against the Oilers, 1:13 into game.

The Flyers were one of the NHL's worst first-period teams in 2018-19 with a minus-31 goal differential during the opening stanza. Through five games this season, the Flyers have been outscored 5-2 in the first period. Vigneault needs more early offense to kick his system into gear.

• After going scoreless in the Flyers' first four games, his longest drought to start a season, Jakub Voracek got on the board with a first-period power play goal. He added another man advantage goal and an assist when the game was out of reach late in the third.

The 30-year-old is a player who fuels on confidence as one goal or play can lead to points in bunches. Voracek had 12 multi-point games last season and the Flyers were 9-2-1 in those contests.

They need him to bring this mojo home.

Also, remember when it was a 1-1 game at this point?

• Travis Konecny went scoreless for the first time this season. James van Riemsdyk has 15 shots on net over the past two games but no points to show for it.

• The Flyers are back at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday to play the Stars (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP). A loud start in front of the home fans would do wonders for their confidence.

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