PHILADELPHIA – There’s nothing worse for a team than leaving its goaltender without support.
In other words, leaving him out to dry.
And that’s exactly what the Flyers did to netminder Brian Elliott in Tuesday night’s embarrassing 8-2 home-opening loss to the San Jose Sharks.
It’s the second-worst home-opener loss in team history, trailing only a 7-0 shellacking by the Los Angeles Kings way back in 1971.
Coach Dave Hakstol left Elliott in for all eight goals on a whopping 48 shots.
The crowd at the Wells Fargo Center had the nerve to give a sarcastic Bronx cheer when Elliott made a save on an innocent dump-in.
The people the fans should have been going after were the position players, namely guys like Ivan Provorov, Sean Couturier and Andrew MacDonald, who were all minus-3.
“We sucked,’’ Shayne Gostisbehere stated bluntly. “I feel so bad for ‘Moose’ (Elliott) right now. We left him out to dry.
“He was the best player tonight. It could have been 8-0 after the first (period). It’s a little ridiculous. Some of us on this team really have to look in the mirror. When we leave a guy to dry like that out there, it’s really not fair.’’
Captain Claude Giroux virtually repeated those sentiments.
“We played like (expletive) tonight,’’ an angry Giroux said. “We left our goalie to dry. He played a good game. He didn’t deserve that. It’s on us.’’
Elliott wasn’t about to throw anyone under the bus.
“It’s a tough game, it’s not how we wanted to come out,’’ Elliott said. “You’ve kind of seen it around the league with some higher scores.
“Sometimes it takes a little bit of a wakeup call. I don’t think we had the structure to kind of take on their attack. We have to take some lessons out of that one. I think everyone can look at themselves in the mirror, know what they did. Some of it comes down to grit, to battle level.’’
Slow starts have been a problem for the Flyers for years, so why should this season be any different?
Three games into this season, the Flyers are a perfect three for three in allowing an opponent to score first.
Which makes it no surprise the Flyers stand 1-2 for the campaign.
Last season, the Flyers were 19-20-8 when they let an opponent score first and 23-6-6 when they got the first goal of the game.
As bad beginnings go, this was a doozy.
The Flyers were down 4-0 in the first 17 minutes and really were never in contention.
Philadelphia allowed 23 shots and the score could have been a lot uglier if not for some acrobatics by Elliott.
By the third period, there was no point in pulling the goalie.
“The way it ended up, Brian got hung out to dry,’’ Hakstol said. “Should have gotten him out of there after the second. But I wanted to give him an opportunity to keep battling.
“They (the Sharks) got through the neutral zone easily. And once they entered into our D-zone, we were on the outside of everything. When were on the right side, we were light on pucks.’’
Are all these slow starts a lack of pre-game preparation?
On this night, it was about making the right moves.
“It’s the decision-making,’’ Hakstol said.
A power play finally got the Flyers on the scoreboard at 4:56 of the second period.
After a scrum in front, Giroux saw his path to the goal blocked and calmly slid a backhand pass back to a charging Gostisbehere, who sent a one-time blast past goalie Aaron Dell.
But the Sharks came right back on the second of two goals by Evander Kane at 14:46 just seconds after a penalty to Radko Gudas ended.
Essentially the game was over in the first period.
Joe Pavelski scored twice. Kane and Logan Couture added single markers.
Couture opened the scoring at 3:17. Provorov’s shot attempt was blocked by Couture and the Sharks raced two on one into the Flyers’ end, with Couture finishing off the play by himself.
Just 11 seconds later, Pavelski scored the first of his two goals when Elliott was unable to corral the rebound of a Kevin Labanc shot.
Pavelski struck again at 12:21, with Labanc against assisting.
Finally, Kane scored at 16:42 on a power play. The goal needed to clear a video review to make sure the puck went completely over the goal line, which it did.
Before the game, the Flyers announced their alternate captains. Wayne Simmonds will serve as one alternate, both at home and on the road. The other “A’’ will be worn by Couturier at home and MacDonald on the road. . .Hakstol disclosed that backup goalie Cal Pickard will make his Flyers debut in Wednesday night’s game at Ottawa.