Another slow start leads to another Flyers loss

Brian Elliott

PHILADELPHIA – It’s a recipe for failure.

It certainly was last year when the Flyers failed to score first in 47 of 82 contests and finished with a record of 19-20-8.

In this fledgling season, the numbers aren’t any more promising:    Beaten to the first punch eight times in nine games, with a 3-5 mark to show for it.

Monday night’s game against the Colorado Avalanche continued the frustrating pattern.

The Flyers fell behind 1-0 after just 3:23 of play and never really got untracked.

So the Avalanche completed a season sweep of Philadelphia with a 4-1 victory at the Wells Fargo Center.

What’s with the inability to get off to a fast start?

The Flyers are a much different team when they strike first. Last year they were 23-6-6 when they drew first blood.

Particularly frustrating for the Flyers about this loss was that it came on the heels of a precision 5-2 win over the Devils here on Saturday.

“We weren’t sharp or crisp with the puck in the first period and that hurt us,’’ coach Dave Hakstol said.

“Today wasn’t good enough. We looked like we didn’t practice yesterday (which they didn’t). We had a good skate this morning but it didn’t carry over. That’s unacceptable.’’

Colorado, which defeated the Flyers in Denver in Philadelphia’s second game of the season back on Oct. 6, jumped out on top courtesy of a Mikko Rantanen goal.

He poked a short rebound past Brian Elliott while Jordan Weal watched from the penalty box.

As usual, the Flyers couldn’t mount a counteroffensive until it was too late.

“It (slow starting) has been too many games this year,’’ Hakstol said. “You (the coaching staff) keep pushing on it. We’re not sharp with the puck and that puts us back on our heels.

“It better end pretty quick.’’

Failing to carry momentum from a good outing like New Jersey has happened more than once this year.

After a noble 1-0 loss to Vegas, the Flyers went out and blew a 5-2 lead over Florida before escaping with a sloppy 6-5 shootout win over the Panthers.

“You have to get off to a better start to give yourself an opportunity, especially to build that momentum in your own building (where the Flyers are a mediocre 2-3),’’ Hakstol said.

“Even though you’re decent in the second and third period, you’re starting from behind.’’

In the second period, Matt Nieto scored at 14:54. Matt Calvert swept around Robert Hagg behind the Flyers goal and fed Nieto in front for his first goal of the season.

Hagg said the Flyers have to get things started quicker.

“We (the defense) need to play the quicker down low,’’ he explained. “It seems like we’re holding on to it too much. We have the forwards stretched out to the red line, then we don’t have anything to play.

“We have to start quicker and get the puck up ice. We talk about it every practice. We just have to execute it.’’

Elliott, now 2-4, admits it can get frustrating.

“It’s not a winning recipe,’’ he said. “That’s not how we want to come out. It just seems to happen right now. We have to get that turned around. We’re going to try to get that turned around when we get to Boston (Thursday).’’

Early in the third period, a Claude Giroux turnover led to a Gabriel Landeskog goal at 2:25.

Nolan Patrick finally broke through against Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov at 3:26 when he deflected defenseman Travis Sanheim’s point shot through the goalie’s pads.

Rantanen added an empty-netter with 1:15 to play.

This much is for sure. If the Flyers don’t come out like a ball of fire once in a while, it’s going to be a long season.

“We need to get pucks deep, then make plays after that,’’ Wayne Simmonds said. “We have to be more consistent. There are shifts where we have it. There are shifts where we don’t stick to it. You turn pucks over and they go the other way. That’s what happened tonight.’’


Short shots


Michael Raffl left the ice in the second period and did not return to the game. No word on the extent of his injury. . .Giroux moved past Joe Watson into fifth place on the Flyers’ alltime games played list. . .The Flyers lost two games in regulation time in the same season against Colorado for the first time since 1997-98.

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About Wayne Fish 2452 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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