Hockey is back and the Flyers have returned. And almost instantly, a huge buzzkill overshadowed the return of the coolest game on ice.
The Flyers lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in their season opener on Saturday, Jan. 19, by a score of 3-1 before dropping their next two games to Buffalo and New Jersey respectively.
In a 48-game season, there is no time to waste. As it was noted during both broadcasts, games are technically worth four points in the standings – the two gained for a win and the two lost in defeat. So far, the Flyers are already 12 points behind.
With games being solely against conference and division opponents, points are even more valuable than ever.
It is not shocking that there are some early flaws to the Flyers’ play in the early part of the season. After a three-month delay, players will be rusty, especially if they didn’t find an opportunity to play elsewhere during the lockout.
That is evident in the Flyers’ special teams struggles and weak defensive play. In each of their first two games, the Flyers were vastly outplayed in the first period. They trailed 2-0 in the first and 1-0 in the second. They were lucky to still be in contention for a win due in large part to some strong play from Ilya Bryzgalov in net.
Meanwhile, the Flyers needed six tries before finally capitalizing on the power play in Sunday’s loss and have just one power play goal in nine man-advantage opportunities.
Additionally, the incredibly potent offense from a season ago has been silent despite featuring many of the same faces. Players like Matt Read and Max Talbot almost seemed to be trying too hard to create opportunities in Sunday’s loss instead of letting opportunity come to them.
It is that mindset that the Flyers will have to take all while improving the quality of special teams play and defense to prevent future games with first-period holes to overcome. After all, there are just 45 games left separating the Flyers from the playoffs or a trip to the links.