Brian Elliott

So far, the Flyers are who we thought they were

So far, the Flyers are who we thought they were

The Flyers were playing a winless team.

During the second period alone, Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds scored two goals apiece as the Flyers went off for five in the stanza.

Overall, 10 different players registered at least a point and Christian Folin, viewed as the team's seventh defenseman, finished with a plus-4 rating.

So how did this one end for the Flyers?

Jordan Weal squeaking a shootout goal between the legs of Panthers netminder Michael Hutchinson and Calvin Pickard, who was with another club two weeks ago, putting on the finishing touches at the other end for a 6-5 survival (see observations).

Tuesday's game should have never sniffed overtime or the Flyers' hallowed skills competition.

Inconceivably, it did.

It did because what felt like the chief storyline and concern surrounding the 2018-19 club slipped past the curtain and took center stage: the Flyers will have no problem scoring goals, but can they prevent the opposition from doing the same?

The answer was obvious and blurted out Tuesday.

From the defensemen to the forwards, there are far too many breakdowns in front of Brian Elliott, inconsistency that leads to 5-2 advantages being erased on home ice by a team walking into the Wells Fargo Center without a victory or a power-play goal. And it's difficult to rely on Elliott, at 33 years old, to make numerous bail-you-out saves on a nightly basis.

It won't happen.

When play in front isn't good and Elliott isn't sharp, either, a result like Tuesday's becomes galling, but not so surprising. Especially when your top defensive pair looks just as suspect as anyone else instead of the surefire bet everyone expected (see story)

Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov are both a team-worst minus-5 through six games, which tells a big part of the story.

Head coach Dave Hakstol walked to the postgame podium wearing a stern, almost disconcerting look, one you would anticipate following an 8-2 loss in the home opener.

And could you blame him? In desperation, he had to pull his goalie holding a 5-4 lead five minutes into the third period.

"I think it's more just a reset on the bench and that's a big part of the message," Hakstol said. "Reset here, fellas, get going in the right direction.

"Kind of a crazy game."

Not in a good way.

The Flyers are tied for seventh in the NHL with 21 goals scored, but have allowed the second most at 25. The only team to surrender more has been the Red Wings, who are 0-4-2.

The Flyers are 3-3-0 … barely.

"When you look back on it, it's just two points," Pickard said. "We'll take it any way we can get them."

Right now, it's to dare the opponent to score with them. It makes for entertaining, wacky and sometimes thrilling, hold-your-breath victories.

Or, it makes for a devastating loss.

The Flyers were on the good side Tuesday.

They should know that won't always be the case.

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Flyers 6, Panthers 5 (SO): Jordan Weal saves the day in bizarre 1st home win

Flyers 6, Panthers 5 (SO): Jordan Weal saves the day in bizarre 1st home win

BOX SCORE

The third time was a shootout charm for the Flyers.

Behind two goals from Wayne Simmonds and Claude Giroux and shootout goals from Jakub Voracek and Jordan Weal, the Flyers defeated the Panthers, 6-5, Tuesday for their first win on home ice.

Which unexpected defenseman stepped up in a big way and what do you make of Dave Hakstol switching goalies with the Flyers leading by a goal in the third period? Observations from the Flyers' win at the Wells Fargo Center.

• Good to see Weal finally pick up his first goal of the season on a tip-in shot from Robert Hagg at the point. Just Weal’s second goal in his last 25 regular-season games. The difference I saw in Weal is he didn’t try to do too much, especially from a stick-handling standpoint. The dilemma facing Hakstol once Nolan Patrick returns is where does Weal go? I’m ready to sit Mikhail Vorobyev, who has been a complete non-factor over his past four games.

• You have to give Hakstol some credit for making a minor tweak to his lines, moving Scott Laughton to center and moving Michael Raffl up with Simmonds. They opened the scoring on their first shift as Laughton and Raffl won a series of board battles, and although they didn’t get credit on the scoresheet, those two forwards made the entire play possible and gave the Flyers their first goal of the game.

• I have to believe defenseman Andrew MacDonald is dealing with some sort of reoccurring injury as he told me last Friday that he came back too soon. MacDonald wasn’t out during warmups as Christian Folin took MacDonald's spot in the lineup. It was Folin who had a beautiful cross-ice lob pass to Laughton at the Panthers' blue line that led to a 2-on-1 and Simmonds' second goal of the game. Folin was considerably better than his first game in Colorado and was a plus-4 through two periods.

• It’s so impressive to watch Shayne Gostisbehere and the confidence he has to pull off high-risk plays. The highlight move from this game was when "Ghost" went to his knees to break up a Panthers breakout play from just outside the Florida zone. As he took control of the puck, Gostisbehere stick-handled his way around the defense and saucered a backhanded pass to Simmonds for the goal. It was an all-around thing of beauty from the Flyers' defenseman.

• The Flyers were completely outplayed in the opening 20 minutes. The Panthers' second line of Vincent Trocheck, Jonathan Huberdeau and Mike Hoffman was the most dominant line and controlled the play. Eventually, the Flyers yielded the first goal for the sixth straight game as Frank Vatrano took a sharp-angled shot that somehow beat Brian Elliott. I think Elliott felt he had the bottom half of the ice covered, but he clearly did not. The Panthers outshot the Flyers, 13-5, in the first period.

• Even though the Evgenii Dadonov goal was the result of a defensive breakdown, it was interesting to see Hakstol pull Elliott in favor of Calvin Pickard, who was victimized by Aleksander Barkov on a breakaway and the game-tying 5-5 goal. The Panthers scored three goals in a span of 10:36. Barkov just breezed around Radko Gudas to break in uncontested. The Elliott decision is more of a reflection of the team’s overall play, but certainly, the Flyers' goalie can’t be happy.

• Even the best players can look awful. Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad, the No. 1 overall pick in 2014, had a horrendous turnover that saw Giroux swoop in and fire a shot that beat Panthers netminder Michael Hutchinson. In all, the Flyers scored five second-period goals in a span of 17:03.

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Golden Knights 1, Flyers 0: Flyers denied by spectacular Marc-Andre Fleury

Golden Knights 1, Flyers 0: Flyers denied by spectacular Marc-Andre Fleury

BOX SCORE 

The last time the Flyers took the Wells Fargo Center ice, they were booed off of it during a catastrophic home opener.

They were a much a different team Saturday but the end result was the same. This time, it was a 1-0 defeat to the Golden Knights on Saturday afternoon.

Cody Eakin scored with 1:25 left in regulation as Vegas handed the Flyers (2-3-0) their first shutout of the season.

In four lifetime matchups between the Flyers and Golden Knights, the road team has won all four.

Vegas (2-4-0) came in with the worst goal differential in the NHL at minus-9 but got some revenge from its 5-2 home-opening loss to the Flyers.

• This was the Flyers' best defensive game of the season. There were very little breakdowns, a stark contrast from the home opener in which the Flyers lost, 8-2, and had Brian Elliott holding on for dear life.

The Flyers couldn't clear a loose puck late in the third and the Golden Knights turned it into the winner on a pretty cross-ice pass to Eakin.

The Flyers entered Saturday having allowed a league-most six power-play goals. Vegas went on the man advantage just three times and didn't score on any of them.

• Head coach Dave Hakstol called a timeout after the Golden Knights' goal. The Flyers then pulled Elliott but couldn't net the equalizer. They didn't generate as much in the third with only six shots, while Vegas capitalized on one play.

• The second period picked up significantly for the Flyers, who couldn't find a way to crack Marc-Andre Fleury. The Golden Knights' goalie made two highlight-reel stops within a minute-and-a-half span to keep the game scoreless late in the stanza.

The first came on Scott Laughton, who couldn't deke Fleury on a shorthanded breakaway before crashing into the boards and skating off hunched over.

Fleury then turned away Claude Giroux with a diving stop. The Flyers' captain patiently held on to the puck and attempted to curl around Fleury, but the goalie remarkably recovered (see video).

• The Flyers had their chances in the first, too. The best came around midway through the frame when a rebound trickled to Jordan Weal, but Fleury sprawled backward to deny his shot. Konecny had a chance to flush the rebound but missed top shelf.

• During the second period, Mikhail Vorobyev committed a bad giveaway when he tried to chip the puck with a backhanded pass. It went right to Tomas Nosek, who created a scoring chance but the Golden Knights couldn't convert.

• Elliott, who was hung out to dry in the home opener, was strong, saving 20 shots. He failed to make the big save at the end but the Golden Knights' precision on the play was impressive.

Unlike opening night against the Flyers when he was yanked after allowing five goals on 16 shots, Fleury was sensational this time around. He had a number of difficult stops and finished with 26 saves.

• With only 12 forwards right now, the Flyers needed Konecny, who left practice early Friday after taking a puck to the skate. He played and didn't look too limited. At times, he skated somewhat gingerly. He played 11:50 and had three hits.

• The Flyers' forwards are becoming the walking wounded. Laughton eventually returned to the bench early in the third period after his spill into the boards. Oskar Lindblom was also shaken up after taking a hard check during the third. The hit by Brayden McNabb was questionable.

• The Flyers are off Sunday then practice Monday before hosting the Panthers Tuesday at 7 p.m. on NBCSP. It's Jakub Voracek Chia Pet Giveaway Night (seriously).

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