At the start of the regular season, the Philadelphia Flyers appeared to be a dilapidated franchise that was marred by controversial coaching changes and the lack of athletic production by some of their star players. After twelve games, the Flyers were 3-9 and had just been blown out at home by the Washington Capitals 7-0. Despite this embarrassing beat down, the Flyers were able to regroup to discover that one aspect of their ailing team was capable of carrying them to close victories; their underrated albeit inconsistent defense. While this same defense relinquished seven points in one game, in their next six games, the Flyers only allowed seven total points throughout these various matchups. Although the wins the Flyers have garnered thus far aren’t always pretty, if they hope to remain competitive in their lackluster division, they’ll need every scrappy victory they can get their hands on.
While the defense has attempted to alleviate the Flyers underwhelming performances as of late, the same cannot be said for their inexplicably ineffective offense. On average, the Flyers score only 2.2 goals per game (27th in the NFL) and in games where their opponents have scored three or more goals, the Flyers have never comeback to win (the only exception was against the Detroit Red Wings in December). Ultimately, the Flyers lack of offensive balance has done them in time and time again, especially against the more high-octane teams such as the Chicago Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings. While the Flyers relentless defense is capable of holding of these intimidating foes throughout the first period, it usually isn’t enough to stop the eventual onslaught that inevitably ensues once the Flyers offense stops producing.
Although the Flyers offensive efforts as a team have been unimpressive to say the least, their individual accolades are somewhat intriguing. While none of these players have scored goals in the double digits, their ability to distribute the puck effectively is what makes this offense tick. By far the Flyers biggest contributor on offense is center Claude Giroux who has five goals and 16 assists on the season. While Giroux has been inconsistent in the Flyers losses, when they win, he almost always contributes a critical goal or a perfectly timed assist that keeps his team from bowing their heads down in utter defeat. If the Flyers had kept right-winger Steve Downie, they would have had a dynamic passing duo that could swiftly move the puck down the ice. As it stands now, the Flyers have adequate contributors such as Scott Hartnell (6 goals and 6 assists on the season) and Matt Read (9 goals and 5 assists on the season).
Despite the Flyers frustrating shortcomings, their power play squad has proven to be fairly effective in it’s own right. Defensively, the Flyers are able to kill 83.3% of power plays (10th in the NHL) and on offense; the Flyers have proven to be fairly efficient as they score on 18.1% of their own power plays (15th in NHL). With that being said, the Flyers ultimately succumb to their major pitfall of being ineffective on offense. The fact that the Flyers are without a prolific shooter is what has made this team less intimidating than they are capable of being. While the Flyers have a lot of potential on their roster, without an accurate shooter, the Flyers impressive puck movement is all but obsolete. Luckily, the Flyers are fortunate to play in a mediocre division that may just provide them with enough time to figure out how they can consistently attack the opposition from game to game.
In the end, while the Flyers are nearly last in their division and are two games below .500, they have a chance at rejuvenating their team to be at least moderately competitive in the long run. If their overlooked power play prowess and scrappy defense is any indication of this teams potential, they may be able to successfully bounce back when everyone least expects it.