Flyers Need to Tighten Defense

Flyers Need to Tighten Defense The Flyers have not gotten off to a quick start, but despite their struggles, they look like a contender for a playoff spot. Last year the Flyers got off to a similar slow start and made a late charge to earn the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

In their first 10 games, the Flyers were 4-5-1. They are scoring more, but the goaltending duo Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth has yet to play consistently. The defensive and goaltending woes were demonstrated in consecutive 5-4 losses to Arizona and defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh.

If the Flyers don't lose qualify for the playoffs, they will point to their two early-season games with Arizona, which might be the weakest team in the NHL. In fact the Coyotes lone two wins in their first eight games came against the Flyers. Arizona also earned a 4-3 overtime win over the Flyers.

Here is a stat that showed the up and down beginning for the Flyers. They began the week with the most goals in the NHL (36) and also had allowed the most goals (38). Claude Giroux entered the week leading the NHL in points (2 goals, 10 assists, 12 points). Wayne Simmonds had six goals which was tied for first.

Defenseman Brandon Manning has been one of the early season surprises. He was leading the Flyers with a plus-6 rating. Jake Voracek, who got off to a slow start last year, is looking like the 2014-15 version when he was an NHL all-star. He had five goals and five assists in the first 10 games.

The Flyers have also benefited from the play of their two 19-year-old rookies, forward Travis Konecny and defenseman Ivan Provorov.

Konecny had a goal and six assists in his first 10 games while Provorov had five assists. The No. 7 overall pick of the 2015 draft, Provorov had a minus-8 rating, although the majority came in a 7-4 loss at Chicago when he was minus-5.

Konecny, who was drafted 24th overall in 2015 has given the Flyers needed speed and playmaking ability.

Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere is among the Flyers leader, but he has gotten off to an uneven start. Ghost had two goals and five assists, but also was a minus-5.

History suggests that the defense will tighten up and the goalies, who are both seeking a new contract, will come along.

It hasn't been the best of starts for the Flyers, but they are far from buried and with improved defensive play and better focus against the lesser lights, the Flyers should be a serious contender for an Eastern Conference playoff spot.

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Author: Marc Narducci

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