Flyers’ report card reflects inconsistent first quarter

Claude Giroux

      After 20 games last season, the Flyers sported a record of 8-8-4.

      This year? 9-9-2.

      So if you believe the Flyers are once again just laying the foundation for another 98-point, playoff-bound season, then you probably are somewhat satisfied with the team’s first quarter performance.

      However, the Flyers aren’t.

      Players like Wayne Simmonds believe his team has to become more consistent.

      Hard to argue with that.

      The Flyers have been streaky to a fault, losing seven of their first 11 games, then going on a 5-0-1 run, followed by a current 0-2-1 dip.

      The issues?

      >Bad special teams: Their penalty kill has been mired at or near 30th place in the NHL and, before Saturday’s three-goal power-play performance against Tampa Bay, the PP was stuck in a two-for-32 rut.

      >Sporadic scoring: The Flyers have 45 goals in their nine wins and just 18 in the 11 regulation/overtime defeats.

      >Unreliable goaltending: Last year, the Flyers were one of only two NHL teams to use four different goaltenders in double-digit games. They look like they’re on a similar pace this year – with Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth in and out of the lineup, journeyman Calvin Pickard pressed into service and even Alex Lyon getting ready for a possible start this coming weekend. A collective 3.55 goals-against average (30th) and save percentage in the .880 range won’t cut it.

      “We have to find a way to start playing more consistent,’’ Simmonds said the other day. “I thought we were good (in wins over Arizona and Chicago) and then we had two losses at home.

      “I think we have to pull it back around.’’

      Here are our first quarter grades:


      /> A — Claude Giroux: The captain is taking up right where he left off last season, strong two-way play.

      /> A — Robert Hagg: The second-year defenseman leads Flyers with a plus-11, blocks shots and is a hitting machine.

      /> A- — Oskar Lindblom: Technically still a rookie but playing like a five-year vet. His 10 points tied for fifth in team scoring.

      /> A- — Scott Laughton: On pace for a 24-goal season and off to the best start of his career.

      /> A- — Dale Weise: It’s taken three seasons but the veteran is finally blending his physical play with some offense.

      /> B+ — Jake Voracek: Not crazy about the minus-6 but 12 assists can’t be overlooked.

      /> B+ — Sean Couturier: After offseason knee injury caused a slow start (five points in first 14 games), he’s posted nine in his last six.

      /> B — Travis Konecny: Like Couturier, took a while to get the engine running but two-goal game Saturday has him trending in right direction.

      /> B  — Shayne Gostisbehere: He’s starting to generate more offense but there’s still the occasional defensive blunder.

      /> B — Christian Folin: Blocks shots, moves the puck and a good soldier in the locker room. That plus-8 doesn’t hurt either.

      /> B — Nolan Patrick: Quietly getting the job done. A head injury early in the season interrupted his second-year progress.

      /> B — Brian Elliott: Also has had his season hampered by health: Coming off offseason surgery, has had a head injury and now a lower-body problem. When he’s on, Flyers usually win.

      /> B — Wayne Simmonds: He would be the first to tell you he’s not been playing his best hockey. What’s with the 36 penalty minutes?

      /> B- — Radko Gudas: Might be off to his best season start as a Flyer. Plus-4 and only 10 penalty minutes.

      /> C+ — Jordan Weal: Finally getting a chance to stay in the lineup and not a liability defensively.

      /> C+ — Travis Sanheim: Looks more composed in his second season.

      /> C+ — Michael Raffl: Played well until big injury which is going to cost him over a month of playing time.

      /> C — Calvin Pickard: He’s come in and done a good job in an emergency situation. Journeyman goalie needs to come up big next two weeks.

      /> C — Jori Lehtera: The veteran has had his moments but now getting pushed to the bench by rookie Nicolas Aube-Kubel.

      /> C— — Nicolas Aube-Kubel: Barely getting five minutes of ice time but a plus-1 isn’t hurting anything.

      /> D+ — Ivan Provorov: C’mon, Ivan, you’re better than this. Seems to have lost his confidence a bit. On an eight-goal pace after 17 last year.

      /> Incomplete — Michal Neuvirth (has only played one game, so how can you grade him?); James van Riemsdyk; Mikhail Vorobyev; Corban Knight; Andrew MacDonald.


      /> B — Dave Hakstol: Folks like to get on Hakstol for some of the moves he makes but bottom line is he’s probably going to take Flyers to playoffs for third time in four years.


      /> B– Ron Hextall: The messy goaltending situation continues to plague this franchise. He had better hope hotshot prospect Carter Hart is the real deal or the endless drama will continue.

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About Wayne Fish 2437 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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