Flyers offense stuck in neutral

Flyers coach Craig Berube: "You don't want to get comfortable with losing."       RON CORTES / Staff Photographer
Flyers coach Craig Berube: "You don't want to get comfortable with losing."       RON CORTES / Staff Photographer
Posted: October 15, 2013

An anemic offense and poor special-teams play are the main reasons the Flyers are 1-5, matching the worst six-game start in franchise history.

The offense has scored a total of eight goals, an average of 1.33 per game, which is next-to-last in the NHL. The forwards have just five goals, and Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Matt Read, Jake Voracek, and Scott Hartnell - a major part of the team's core - are goalless. Hartnell will miss two to four weeks with an upper-body injury.

And while the Flyers' five-on-five play has shown encouraging signs lately, the power-play and penalty-killing units have struggled.

"The dumb penalties have to be eliminated altogether," said Craig Berube, who is incorporating his system on the fly after being named the coach last Monday. ". . . And we're not shooting enough on our power play."

The special-teams funk is surprising because the Flyers last season excelled on the power play (21.6 percent success rate, third in the NHL) and penalty kill (85.9 percent, fifth).

Six games into the new season, the Flyers entered Sunday 29th in the 30-team NHL on the power play (7.4 percent success rate) and 14th on the penalty kill (78.8 percent). They are 0 for their last 15 on the PP.

The special teams crumbled in Saturday's 5-2 loss in Detroit. The Red Wings were 3 for 7 on the power play, while the Flyers were 0 for 4.

"Too many penalties again," Giroux said.

In their last two losses, the winning goal was scored with a Flyer in the penalty box. The Flyers lead the league in minor penalties (39) and overall penalties (45).

There were some positives Saturday: The Flyers outplayed Detroit when the teams were at even-strength, and winger Tye McGinn, recalled from the AHL's Phantoms earlier in the day, scored a goal and played well while being used on the top line with Giroux and Voracek.

"It felt good to be back; it's the NHL and it's where I want to be," McGinn said.

Berube thought the team played with "urgency and competitiveness. We moved the puck better."

He paused.

"But it's not good enough. We have to be better. . . . You don't want to get comfortable with losing. None of us are happy about losing."

"We did a lot of good things," Giroux said. "We're going to stick with it. . . . It looks like everyone is getting the big picture and knowing what to do. Obviously the record doesn't show how we played, but we played a good team and the game could have gone either way.

"It's early in the season, and we're going to start winning games here."

The Flyers are 1-2 since Berube replaced Peter Laviolette.

"They're a team that's searching for an identity, just like we are right now," Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard said.

Breakaways. Goalie Ray Emery (4.03 GAA, .873 save percentage) was not sharp in the loss to Detroit, and Steve Mason (2.03, .935) figures to get the nod Tuesday against visiting Vancouver. . . . Brayden Schenn leads the Flyers in goals (two) and points (four). . . . The Flyers are 0-4 when trailing after the first period. . . . Giroux on McGinn: "He won a lot of battles and went to the net. He played like we thought he was going to play." . . . The Flyers have been outscored in the third period, 8-2. . . . Scott Laughton has five goals and 12 points in five games with OHL Oshawa.

Floundering Flyers Offense

Here are rankings among 30 NHL teams for the Flyers in several key categories:

Category   Stat   Rank

Shots per game    29.0    22d

Power-play percentage    7.4    29th

Goals per game    1.3    29th

Penalty minutes per game    19.7     4th


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