Flyers

After latest loss, Flyers say struggles stem from lack of shots

usa-michael-raffl-flyers-capitals.jpg

After latest loss, Flyers say struggles stem from lack of shots

After his team's latest loss — a 5-2 defeat to the Capitals on Thursday night — Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol had a simple explanation why his team is struggling to score.

"I don't think we're shooting the puck enough," Hakstol said after the Flyers were outshot — 32-20 — for the ninth straight contest.

"We're turning down too many opportunities — not Grade A opportunities but just entering the zone and getting pucks on the net. That's something we've got to do a better job of."

Once set up in the offensive zone on a power play to start the second period, Claude Giroux, along the sideboards, fired a lackadaisical shot toward the Capitals' net.

With Wayne Simmonds screening Braden Holtby, Giroux's shot found the back of the net. It was something the Flyers lacked both on the man advantage and even strength against the Caps.

And shooting is something Hakstol believes the Flyers have to do more.

"I don't think we throw enough to the net," he said, "even from the outside with people going to the net. I think that's due to guys wanting to make plays.

"But I think you still have to go back to basics and simplify the game a little bit more."

The lack of shots has played into the Flyers' struggles. In their last five games, they've averaged 23.4 shots while allowing 35.8 per game.

They've been outshot, 322-234, during their current stretch of eight losses in their last nine games.

"We got to get better looks," right winger Jakub Voracek said. "We're making it harder on ourselves. We're running around on the forecheck and they make one play and it's out of the zone.

"When we play good teams and we're patient, make smart plays and forecheck that's when we generate the chances. That's why we had so many shots in the beginning of the season.

"We don't have that (right now) because we go too fast or everybody is trying too hard. That's what happens."

In their first eight games, the Flyers averaged 34.9 shots and were 4-2-2, but scoring was still an issue. They potted just 16 goals in the first eight games — two per game.

Still, the shots were a result of stronger forechecking and better neutral-zone play, both of which have been lacking recently.

Against the Capitals, the Flyers were outshot, 11-4, after the first period and at one point, the shots were 31-13 in favor of Washington.

What do the Flyers have to do to correct it?

"Early on," Hakstol said, "you have to establish a little bit more of the shooting mindset whether it's early in the game or early in a power play."

Scoring has been a major problem this season for the Flyers. After their two-goal effort against the Caps, they're now scoring 1.81 goals per game. Only Anaheim scores less at 1.69.

In their last nine games that number is 1.56, which helps explain why there have been two team meetings and why general manager Ron Hextall challenged the team already.

Sixteen games into the season, Voracek is still without a goal. The 26-year-old played 18:26 against the Capitals with two shots on goal.

One of Voracek's shots came on the Flyers' second power play, but it was hardly a scoring chance. He also had two third-period two-on-ones with Giroux that didn't convert.

For a team in the midst of a long stretch of losing, it would be easy to place blame on the goalie. Steve Mason let in five goals Thursday night, but none of them fall on the goalie.

The Flyers' defensive coverages broke down and they were burned by two Washington power plays. Mason had no shot on any of the Capitals' goals.

While Voracek said he doesn't like to comment on goaltenders' play — good or bad — he did mention the blame doesn't fall on Mason and Michal Neuvirth.

"Hockey is a collective sport," he said. "You win together, you lose together. We didn't play great defense. We didn't score enough goals.

"We have to play better as a team and goalies — that's the last of our problems. They've been good and we have to make sure we score more goals."

Another area that struggled against Washington was the Flyers' power play. On Thursday night, the Flyers generated two shots in four power-play opportunities and finished 1 for 4.

The Flyers are now 4 for their last 32 on the man advantage.

The problem, Giroux said, is they are too impatient and try to make plays there aren't there — something they didn't do against the Jets in a 3-0 win last Saturday.

"Against Winnipeg, we were patient and we were waiting for our chances," he said. "We weren't trying to force it. When we do that, that's when we get our chances."

The irony here is both of the Flyers' goals Thursday came on quick shots. Scott Laughton gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead at 3:34 in the first period on a shot from above the right circle.

Laughton quickly fired the puck past Holtby after Chris VandeVelde gathered it off the boards on the forecheck.

"We're in a tough spot right now," Laughton said. "It's not fun losing and the only way we can get out of it is sticking together. We're all professionals here.

"We have to come to work every day and I thought we had a pretty good start to the game. We just didn't get enough pucks on net and we got to do a better job at that."

Flyers brought back to earth by Coyotes, suffer a first since Oct. 19

Flyers brought back to earth by Coyotes, suffer a first since Oct. 19

BOX SCORE

Despite putting up 21 goals over their five-game winning streak, the Flyers had a propensity to score them in bunches when an opponent started derailing.

On Thursday night, the Flyers never got going and were pulled back to earth in a 3-1 loss to the Coyotes at the Wells Fargo Center.

Arizona goalie Darcy Kuemper was the biggest difference. The 6-foot-5 netminder who brought an NHL-best 1.97 goals-against average and .936 save percentage to Philly stopped 28 shots.

With 4:43 left, Matt Niskanen scored the Flyers' lone goal and it ricocheted off a Coyote. Arizona iced the game with an empty-netter (see highlights).

The Flyers (16-8-5) suffered just their second regulation loss at home (9-2-4). The last time they failed to pick up a point at home was Oct. 19 when they lost to the Stars, 4-1.

Thursday night's defeat halted the Flyers' winning streak at five games and their point streak at seven. The Flyers had earned at least a point in 18 of their previous 22 games.

The Coyotes (17-9-4), who were allowing the NHL's second-fewest goals per game at 2.31, improved to 10-3-3 on the road.

• The Flyers went on two power plays in the final six minutes of the second period but could not solve Kuemper.

During those two man advantage opportunities, the Flyers put five shots on Kuemper and also misfired three times.

James van Riemsdyk found Morgan Frost with a slick backhanded pass from behind the net but the 20-year-old missed wide.

• Speaking of Frost, he had a tough game. The rookie had a turnover and some difficulty making plays.

He has gone scoreless over his last seven games following his loud start in which he scored three points in his first two games.

Maybe head coach Alain Vigneault takes him off the first line to relieve some pressure.

"Young player, in my estimation, has got a lot of confidence in himself, which is real good," Vigneault said postgame. "Tonight, there were a couple of plays with the puck, like some of our other guys, that the execution might have been a little bit off. But I think overall, the young man is working hard and trying to get better."

Will he stay on the top line?

"I'm going to watch the game and make [changes], if I have some changes to make, [Friday]," Vigneault said. "I like what the young man can bring to the game."

• Vigneault opted to play seven defensemen instead of slotting call-up Mikhail Vorobyev in at fourth-line center.

It's not a bad approach when you have seven healthy blueliners playing well. It also could mean the Flyers aren't ready to trust Vorobyev on the fourth line again.

The Senators game on Saturday looks like a better matchup for Vorobyev, who is in his fifth stint with the club since the start of last season.

• Brian Elliott hadn't lost in regulation since Oct. 29. The Flyers' backup goalie finished with 15 saves.

He allowed a first-period power play goal to Phil Kessel after Claude Giroux was whistled for a ticky-tacky slashing penalty. He then yielded a backbreaking third-period goal to Conor Garland with 7:03 left in the game.

The goalie was not the problem, though.

Sean Couturier was not a problem, either.

• The Flyers wrap up their three-game homestand Saturday when they welcome the Senators (1 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

Next week, the team opens a three-game road trip, which features matchups with the Avalanche on Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN), the Wild on Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and the Jets on Sunday (5 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).

 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers

The 13 Philly-inspired ornaments you need this year

The 13 Philly-inspired ornaments you need this year

If you live in Philadelphia or the surrounding area, it's safe to say there's at least one ornament on your tree representing the city — whether it be a memento from a previous championship Philly has seen, famous landmarks or even the skyline, you're repping one way or another.

Throw everything you thought you knew about Philly ornaments out the window and make way for Jawnaments ... yes, you read that correctly.

Jawnaments. I swear, there is no place like Philadelphia.

Jawnaments is an Etsy shop that has been around since 2017 but they recently released a ton of non-traditional Philadelphia-inspired ornaments. And they're a thing of beauty.

Can you only function throughout the week because of the daily coffee you grab at Wawa and want to highlight that on your tree this year? They've got you covered.

Haven't received a parking ticket in the city in a while and just miss the stress and anxiety they bring with them? Yup, they've got that covered too.

The Tastykake Krimpet and Kandy Kake ornaments look good enough to eat ... even a classic soft pretzel with yellow mustard is an option.

And since Gritty is just about everywhere in the world ... it he. On an ornament. Oh sorry, *Jawnament.

Trust me, there are a ton of other options but you're just going to have to check out the full shop to see the beauty of it all.

You might even have to get a mini tree that's dedicated to the city you know and love. Heck, keep it up all year!

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers