This was not how the Flyers wanted to treat their fans to a home opener.
The Sharks scored two goals in a span of 11 seconds early in the first period, and from there the Flyers never recovered in an 8-2 drubbing.
It was the Flyers’ worst home-opening loss since a 7-0 defeat to the Los Angeles Kings in 1971.
Here are my observations from the Wells Fargo Center:
• How do you explain such a pathetic start? The Flyers knew the Sharks would come out flying to start the game having played the previous night in Brooklyn and losing to an inferior Islanders team, 4-0. They certainly atoned for that effort against the Flyers with two first-period goals in a span of 11 seconds to start the game. Overall, the Sharks attempted 30 shots with 23 on net, the most shots the Flyers had given up in one period since December 2008.
• Plenty of breakdowns all the way around. Even the top defensive pairing of Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere had their issues. Provorov’s shot from just inside the blue line — a puck that can’t get knocked down — resulted in a 2-on-1. Couture then beat Elliott five hole — one the Flyers’ goaltender probably should have stopped. However, credit Elliott for making many quality first-period saves as the Flyers defensively were in complete shambles. San Jose could have easily had a 6-0 first-period lead.
• Along with Provorov’s gaffe that led to the first goal, Gostisbehere had a tough time defending the Joe Pavelski line, in particular Pavelski himself. Ghost lost a few puck battles, and in front of the net, where Pavelski scored. Pavelski has made a career of outworking and creating position in front of the net and he burned Ghost for his second goal of the game. Just a tough night for the Flyers’ top pairing.
• The Flyers’ top power play unit wasn’t effective as they were playing for rebounds and tip in opportunities, but many of those passes missed the net entirely. The second power play unit had little cohesion early on. They couldn’t get set up and their puck movement and passing was sloppy in what little ice time they had on two of the Flyers first three opportunities. Overall, the power play was 2 for 6.
• Dave Hakstol mentioned during the preseason the changes in the penalty kill were more in structure than in personnel. Evander Kane’s power play goal was more just unfortunate circumstances as the puck went off his skate. The key to the Flyers’ PK is not allowing the power play to gain easy entry into the zone. Their first kill was a textbook effort where San Jose never set up and couldn’t manufacture a shot. Statistically, the penalty kill will look a lot worse than it performed.
• Regardless of the outcome, this was clearly Nolan Patrick’s best game of the season. I liked the speed and aggressiveness that was lacking in the first two games of the season. On Patrick’s opening shift, he forced an Erik Karlsson turnover and converted it into a scoring chance. Patrick was quick on the forecheck in this game where he was a bit slow in jumping on pucks in the first two road games.
• I’m not sure how long Hakstol will stick with a Oskar Lindblom-Patrick-Travis Konecny line. Konecny still has a tendency to attempt those high-risk, high-reward passes and plays when sometimes the safer option is simply the best one. Konecny seems to play under more control when he’s with veterans like Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier. Overall, Konecny was credited with three giveaways, as was Giroux, who didn’t have his best effort either.