Flyers working on getting faster starts in games

Scott Laughton

      VOORHEES, N.J. — Ever wonder why some teams allow opponents to score the first goal of the game more times than not?

      In the Flyers’ case, it could be the state of their mental preparation. You know, being ready to play on all cylinders as soon as the puck is dropped.

      Well, coach Alain Vigneault has made it clear he’s trying to reverse what happened during the ill-fated 2020-21 season.

      In a pandemic-shortened 56-game season, the Flyers were scored upon first in a whopping 33 of them.

      And their record for these nonchalant starts? How about 11-18-4.

      It just shows the NHL is not some come-from-behind deal. Once an opponent gets the jump on you, it can change the whole dynamic of the match. They don’t call it “chasing the game’’ for nothing.

      “It’s hard to chase games in this league,’’ Scott Laughton confirmed. “We did it at times last year. It’s hard to come back from that so having a little bit of an older presence (this year) I think helps. Guys that have been around before and played a ton of games. . .they can speak up in the room or their presence around the younger guys and making them feel comfortable.’’

      Years and years ago, the Flyers would jump on opponents right off the get-go, especially at the old Spectrum. One year (1975-76) they finished with an incredible home-ice record of 36-2-2. Visitors almost never scored the first goal of the game and the Flyers often had a two- or three-goal lead before fans got their popcorn and sat down.

      “I’m really excited for this year,’’ Laughton said. “It’s a fresh start for everyone. I know a lot of guys have been itching to get going through the summer.’’

      Vigneault might have to upgrade his pre-game pep talks to get his players in the right frame of mind, especially on the aforementioned home ice. The Flyers were just 12-12-4 at the Wells Fargo Center, the first time they failed to finish over .500 in Philly since the nightmarish 2006-07 campaign.

       “It’s something we’ve addressed with our veteran group,’’ Vigneault said. “It’s about starting on time, preparing yourself, whether it be in practice to be ready when games start. I firmly believe they (the slow starts) are not an indication of who we truly are.’’

      Vigneault has had successful coaching tenures with Montreal, Vancouver and the New York Rangers before coming to the Flyers. He’s been around the league long enough to know winning formulas.

      “My teams have always been ready from the start,’’ Vigneault said. “I intend to be making sure we are ready this year once the puck drops.’’

      >Roster reduced by nine

      The Flyers reduced their roster by nine players on Tuesday. Eight players were assigned to the AHL Lehigh Valley Phantoms: Samuel Ersson, goaltender; Logan Day, defenseman; Samu Tuomaala, right wing; Mason Millman, defenseman; Maksim Sushko, left wing; Wyatte Wylie, defenseman; Max Willman, center; Matthew Strome, left wing. In addition, Elliot Desnoyers, left wing, was returned to his junior team, Halifax (QMJHL).  The Flyers’ roster is now down to 42 players.

About Wayne Fish 1449 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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