The Philadelphia Flyers have started the season 4-2-2 and they are currently fourth within the Metropolitan division. They are ahead of division rivals like the Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets–both of which were considered superior teams during the offseason.
But despite the Flyers’ impressive record, they are still falling victim to last season’s problems. One game, the Flyers look like a playoff game and the next, they could lose to the worst team in the NHL. Some of this is just by nature of hockey and it is true that any team can beat any other team on a given night.
However, Philadelphia has a serious issue with consistency. Last season, the Flyers would play up to the level of their competition or they would play down to them. Last night the Flyers faced the Buffalo Sabres at home and ended up losing 4-3 in overtime. But Philadelphia did not deserve to be in that game. The Sabres outworked, out played and outshot the Flyers the entire night.
The team came out flat and they knew it. Here’s what Brayden Schenn said after the disappointing loss.
Not a great start. We came out flat and can’t do that. Every team can beat anyone in this league. We got to be ready to play and we’ve been talking about that for a while, especially against these teams. It’s easy to get jacked up for the Rangers game or the Penguins game, but these are the games you have to have.
He was angry, and he had every right to be. Schenn was one of the few Flyers who left everything on the ice. He was a huge reason why the Flyers even made it to overtime. Schenn scored two of the three Flyers goals, and despite his heroic efforts, the team could not follow his lead.
Schenn mentions how it’s easy to get “jacked up” for a game against the Rangers and the Flyers clearly did a few days ago. They beat the Blueshirts 3-2 in overtime and Steve Mason outplayed Henrik Lundqvist. Just looking at the box scores, you might think that these two games were fairly similar, but that could not be farther from the truth.
Against the Rangers, the Flyers were flying. They had energy and everyone on the team was involved pushing for a win. Against the Sabres–one of the league’s most promising young teams–it was a three-man effort trying to get a win. Sam Gagner, Schenn and Mason were the only three Flyers who really came to play Tuesday night . If they want to make the playoffs, that cannot happen on a regular basis.
This would not be a problem, except this narrative is all too familiar. Last season, this problem faced the Flyers in just about every game.
How do they go about fixing these mental inconsistencies? Some of the blame surely falls on rookie head coach Dave Hakstol, but most of it falls on the players themselves. There is only so much a coach can do from behind the bench and at a certain point the players need to go out and execute.
As the season progresses, hopefully the Flyers can leave this problem behind.