After an opening night win, the Flyers leaped into the week with optimism, and disappointed us through two pretty baffling losses to the Avalanche and Sharks. However, they received a much needed bounce back game in Ottawa where they thrashed the Sens 7-4.
Here’s what we learned in those three games:
- Hakstol gives participation trophies
If your team wins a game, usually the coaching staff will not alter the line-up very much, especially if the win was a solid win. However, leave it to the Flyers to change a winning formula. Dave Hakstol decided that on the road in Colorado, Christian Folin would be a better option than Radko Gudas, after Gudas had a pretty good game in Vegas. Folin ended up having a nightmare game as the Flyers lost 5-2 as the Avs speed killed them in this contest.
- Injuries could hurt team in the future
Both James Van Riemsdyk and Nolan Patrick sustained injuries this week. JVR with a “lower body” (knee) injury that will keep him out for a few weeks, and Patrick with an upper body injury that will hopefully only keep him sidelined for a few days. Nevertheless, it always hurts when key players are out injured, and for the Flyers, it will hurt that their roster spots have been filled by Jori Lehtera and Dale Weise. Somebody will have to come in after Patrick’s injury, and I will assume at this point it will be Jordan Weal, but they could potentially call up a waiver exempt forward like Nicolas Aube-Kubel.
Bouncing back in Ottawa, Jake “Gritty” Voracek scored twice and added three assists for his first ever 5 point game, including the go ahead goal as he beat Craig Anderson five-hole faking pass to Giroux on a 2 on 1. It proves that Voracek, despite fan concerns, is still a legitimate star in the league, and he’ll be even better paired with Giroux and Couturier. He also saw netfront looks on the PP1, which he can certainly do given his size and stature.
- Elliott and Pickard let goals in, but have looked quite good
Don’t let the final score lines fool you. Both Brian Elliott and Cal Pickard have played well. I especially liked Pickard’s play in the Ottawa game. If anything, the amount of goals leaking through is due to the defense’s poor play and Elliott’s shaky rebound control, but mostly the defense. Though MacDonald-Hagg looked better in Ottawa, they were torched in play against the Sharks and Avs.
- Slow starts
That’s been a dominant theme throughout the week. The Flyers over the past 5 years have really struggled to come out in games with energy (as they used to so often with Richards and Carter). They get so flat and work themselves into a lethargic rhythm and when they fall behind, they don’t get that wave of inspiration we have been so used to seeing from Philadelphia teams (the Super Bowl Champion Eagles). I partially think this can be due to Hakstol’s even-keeled nature behind the bench. In my interview with Bill Clement, he noted the positives of Hakstol’s calmness, and of course being too fired up can be negative, but somebody has to care. The players’ comments after the game clearly show they were angry after the fact, but that needs to be seen during the game, not after the fact.
The Flyers open up the new week on Saturday at home against the (Las) Vegas Golden Knights, playing them for the second time this year.