Philadelphia Flyers 2015-16 season:
Games – 10/Wins – 4/Losses – 4/OT Losses – 2/Points – 10
Last season the Flyers finished 14 points out of a playoff spot and struggled in many ways. Looking back, they often played down to lesser opponents, struggled on penalty kills, and suffered a number of disappointing overtime losses. The team also underwent long stretches of undisciplined, lackluster play, which included committing way too many foolish penalties and coughing up plenty of costly giveaways. Unfortunately, we saw nearly all these bad traits surface again this past week with three ugly losses to Buffalo (4-3 OT), New Jersey (4-1), and Buffalo again (3-1). So I ask you (since we recently celebrated Back to the Future Day) is what we just witnessed these past three games some kind of weird time-warp thing where the 2014-15 team has somehow been transported back to the future, which turned out to be the last week of October 2015?
Thank goodness for the superb goaltending play of Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth, or all three losses could have been blowouts. The Schenn brothers (Luke and Brayden) led the team in scoring this past week with 3 points each. Luke also played well defensively and led the team with a plus 2. Oh, and one more positive thing – based solely on what we witnessed this past week, if we were to somehow time-travel ahead to June 2016, we would see the Flyers coming away with a top pick in the next NHL Draft. Good news indeed!
Along with the afore-mentioned regression, the Flyers’ big guns have been mostly silent. Jakub Voracek has yet to score a goal this season, although this is not due to any lack of effort or hesitation shooting on his part. So far he leads the club with 44 shots. Claude Giroux is also currently struggling to a lesser degree – he had no goals and one assist this past week. Wayne Simmonds has one goal for the season and Michael Del Zotto has yet to put the puck in the net.
The Downright Ugly
And if all that weren’t bad enough, the Flyers recently suffered key injuries to Sean Couturier and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who both gave the team some lock-down defensive skills. This allowed a hard-working but slow-skating Vinny Lacavalier to finally crack the lineup. And speaking of ugly, we saw not one, but two “Too Many Men on the Ice” penalties in the very same game (Wednesday against the Devils!) That, my friends, is pretty much unheard of and demonstrates a whole new level of ugly.
It doesn’t get any easier – the Flyers now find themselves on a long road swing through Western Canada. They will play in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, and Winnipeg before returning home to face Colorado on November 10. Can this time out on the road help the team to bond and enable them to resume competing like they did earlier this month against top teams like Tampa Bay and Chicago? Or are they doomed to repeat the same mistakes and sluggish play that kept them out of the playoffs last year? Can we see a hopeful glimpse of the future for this team, or are we stuck regressing again back into the past? Only time will tell. This certainly is posing a significant early season hurdle for Coach Dave Hakstol and his staff. I tend to have hope that they can right the ship, and that the quality play we saw earlier this month was not an aberration. But to tell you the truth, after this past dreadful week, I wouldn’t bet the DeLorean on it.