At least the Flyers are honest with themselves.
That's one thing they've got going for them.
There are times when they won't score or they lose by a considerable margin and the postgame refrain is we played a good game or the bounces don't always go your way.
The rhetoric probably drives the fans up a wall.
Hockey is definitely a game of bounces. It's not all that cliché. A team can outplay another without it showing on the scoreboard.
Remember Game 5 of the Flyers' first-round series against the Capitals in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs? Facing elimination, the Flyers were outshot 44-11 and 82-27 in total attempts. At the time, it marked their fewest shots on goal in franchise history, playoffs or regular season. They were outplayed — and thoroughly.
They won, 2-0. The game-winning goal went off the skate of a Capitals defenseman. Barry Trotz talked about hockey gods. Everything was weird.
Eventually, though, over the course of an 82-game season, you have to make your bounces and prevent others. The Flyers are nine outings into the 2018-19 campaign and have yet to win consecutive games. They are 4-5-0 and have allowed the second-most goals in the NHL at 37. The penalty kill has yielded a league-high 10 markers, while the power play is 1 for its last 14.
So far, not so good. It would be hard to say otherwise.
"You see the way we play when we get down, we dominate the game," Nolan Patrick said after Monday's 4-1 loss to the Avalanche at the Wells Fargo Center (see observations). "That's something we need to do for a full 60 minutes, we can't just wait until we're down to start making a push like that. We're capable of so much more."
There are too many mistakes to make excuses.
Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol was honest Monday night. He's big on defending his guys and not singling out players. He didn't go out of his way to blast anyone, but he was forthright and specific about the team's breakdowns.
It was fair and refreshing.
The Flyers gave up a power-play goal 3:23 into the action. Sean Couturier, one of the best defensive forwards in the game, a guy the Flyers rely heavily on with their penalty kill, was well out of position (see highlights). As good as Couturier is, nobody is exempt from blame and Hakstol made that clear.
"We made a mistake on the broken play," Hakstol said. "It's the third puck coming to the slot and instead of collapsing to the net, our top PKer stayed out about five to eight feet too high and that's the difference and it goes in the back of our net."
Hakstol originally felt the Flyers should have never been on the penalty kill. Jordan Weal was called for tripping and Hakstol had a lengthy discussion with the officials. The head coach admitted he was wrong. It was a bad penalty by Weal — who has committed four in the last two games — and it resulted in another first-period deficit (see story).
"We're not crisp and we're not sharp with the puck and that puts us back on our heels," Hakstol said. "It's not just with the puck. We took another penalty today — stick penalty in the first two minutes of the game, I barked at the refs initially because I thought it was a soft call. After I look at it, it's a penalty. That's on us."
In eight of the Flyers' nine games, the opponent has scored first.
"It better end pretty quick," Hakstol said of the slow starts. "I'm not ducking it, we've got to be better."
At least they know it. That's a start.
Once again, seeing is believing with the Flyers.
And once again, it's time to wait and see.
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