Flyers

Blue Jackets 6, Flyers 3: Where's the defense and goaltending?

Blue Jackets 6, Flyers 3: Where's the defense and goaltending?

BOX SCORE

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Cannon fire erupted at Nationwide Arena Thursday night as the Columbus Blue Jackets doubled up the Flyers, 6-3.

The Flyers have now allowed five or more goals in four of their first seven games to start the season.

Where were the breakdowns in Columbus?

Here are my observations from Nationwide Arena:

• Ivan Provorov’s struggles continued in the opening period. The Flyers' defenseman had a bad turnover to Anthony Duclair, he got turned around during another shift and Provorov's failure to corral the puck led to an eventual tripping call against Sonny Milano. General manager Ron Hextall said Provorov’s not injured but he’s not playing up to his standards.

“It’s just six games," Hextall said pregame. "Let’s be careful not to overreact.”

Last season, Provorov had a 10-to-15-game stretch midseason in which the puck looked like a hand grenade on his stick.

• If you track the Flyers' shot location in the first period, the team was mostly directing shots against Sergei Bobrovsky on the bottom half of the net — either looking for a rebound or a redirected tip-in. Travis Konecny connected on a terrific tip that went five-hole and you could sense from Konecny’s reaction the relief to finally get that first goal of the season.

• After breaking through with two goals on Bobrovsky in the first period, the Flyers resorted to trying to make the pretty pass and the perfect play in the second period as opposed to just getting the puck on net, creating rebound opportunities and sticking to what worked in the first 20 minutes.

• Give Duclair credit for making a very athletic play, but I think Robert Hagg can do a better job of preventing a quality scoring chance and eventually a highlight goal. Duclair fell to the ice, got back up and beat Pickard with a nice shot in the first period.

Hagg was also on the ice when Cam Atkinson sped around him and scored the Jackets' 3-2 go-ahead goal during the second period. In both instances, I’d like to see Hagg make a stronger attempt at breaking up those plays even if it means taking a penalty. Deep in your zone in the high-danger areas, those are penalties worth taking.

• It will be interesting to see how Dave Hakstol restructures his lines once Nolan Patrick is cleared to return to the team. Jordan Weal has looked really solid in the few games he’s played at center. Oskar Lindblom was buzzing offensively on Weal’s wing and that line scored in the opening minute of the third period to close the gap to 4-3.

I also liked Weal’s attention to detail on the defensive side of the puck until his costly tripping penalty late in the third period.

• Hakstol said the plan all along was for Calvin Pickard to start this game, but I really wondered if he would have followed through on that had the Flyers not coughed up a 5-2 lead to the Panthers Tuesday.

Pickard’s performance was the product of the defense in front of him, but sometimes you need your goaltender to make the saves they’re not expected to make. Foligno’s snap shot from between the circles is definitely a stoppable shot and certainly Milano’s wraparound from a sharp angle.

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