Flyers

Flyers weekly observations: A serious concern, a roster decision, more

Flyers

The Flyers are .500 entering next week after a 2-1-0 week.

Let's look at some observations from the week that was, which saw some goaltending issues, a defensive pair breaking up and a rookie potentially on the brink of demotion.

• Ron Hextall might be forced to do something about his goaltending situation — I know, obviously. But Brian Elliott has allowed too many soft goals, been too unreliable. The team defense has been porous, yes, but you need the goalie to make some saves. The Devils' second goal Saturday was just not a good one to give up. The four goals he yielded Tuesday weren't great, either.

Cal Pickard is a fringe NHL backup and Michal Neuvirth can't stay healthy. I don't think it's time to rush Carter Hart up, but the Phantoms have three goalies with Alex Lyon healthy. I think we'll see Lyon with the Flyers at some point. I think he would be here now if he hadn't suffered an injury himself. But the Flyers simply need better goaltending. Elliott was better Saturday, but the goaltending simply has to improve.

- Dougherty

• You have to wonder if the Flyers are contemplating a decision with Mikhail Vorobyev.

The decision being on whether to send him to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

With Nolan Patrick's return and Jordan Weal's showing, Vorobyev has become the odd man out down the middle. Weal is producing alongside Travis Konecny while displaying the blend of skill and all-around effort at center.

The Flyers won't move Jori Lehtera out of his fourth-line center role and playing Vorobyev on the wing doesn't make a ton of sense for his development. With 28-year-old Corban Knight here to be an extra center, having a 21-year-old rookie sit doesn't jive with the Flyers' ways.

 

Lineups can change after one or two games. Vorobyev was the preseason darling and started fast before a quiet four-game stretch put him out. He'll need some help to get back in the lineup. If not, playing with the Phantoms could be the course of action. 

- Hall

• Dave Hakstol's decision to break up Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere Saturday afternoon was an underrated excellent coaching decision. Provorov has had a worrisome start to the season and while I like the potential of a Provorov-Ghost pair, I just don't think it's a good fit. Provorov had his best game yet Saturday but still had two concerning turnovers (see story). While I have full confidence that he'll get back to the player we've come to expect, it is concerning to see him make the uncharacteristic mistakes he's made.

I think he'll perform better away from Gostisbehere. It also spreads out the defense, which with this group, they need. It was too top-heavy with Provorov-Gostisbehere.

- Dougherty

• Radko Gudas typically gets blown up for his mistakes but he's been quietly good.

He doesn't try to do too much, he just plays his game and understands his role.

When he's not being realized, that's a good thing. And he hasn't been the Flyers' problem on defense thus far. He's a team-best plus-4, he's blocking shots and he's not committing penalties.

Good stuff from Gudas so far as a bottom-pair defenseman.

- Hall

• Your Robert Hagg observation: Yes, the Flyers' second-year defenseman has more goals and points than Steven Stamkos. It won't last for long, so we'll savor it for now.

Jokes aside, Hagg has looked so much better this season with the puck, showing that offensive flash he had as a prospect in Sweden. He still needs to improve his 1-on-1 coverage and Thursday in Columbus, we saw some blips. Hagg's exit-zone passes still need improvement and he certainly can tighten up his defensive coverage this season, but overall, Hagg is evolving a bit.

- Dougherty

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