Flyers Struggle to Score Goals Starts at the Blue Line

Three games into the season, and the Philadelphia Flyers are 0-3 and have scored just one goal total, from Luke Schenn, at even strength.  Add in a pair of power play markers against the Canadiens and the Leafs, and overall they have scored just one  goal in each of their three games this year.  In the latest two games against Carolina and Montreal this weekend, they were badly outshot and just didn’t generate a lot of quality scoring chances.

For a team that has the likes of Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Scott Hartnell, Vincent Lecavalier, Matt Read, Brayden Schenn, and Sean Couturier in its forward corps, this really shouldn’t be the case.  The Flyers certainly have the talent up front to put to the puck in the net but it just isn’t happening in the first three games of the year.  So where is the disconnect?

Quite simply, the Flyers offence is being short-circuited before it can begin.  There is a huge disconnect right now in the Flyers transition game and the forwards are not being allowed to attack the opposition with speed.  There is a serious lack of puck-moving ability at the back end.  New signing Mark Streit looks to be settling in, and as of yet he has not solved the problems that reared their heads last year.

Kimmo Timmonen also looks old – and not Detroit Red Wings old – and the man who has been the staple of the Flyers blue line for the past several seasons is also looking like a man who is ageing quickly.  Defencemen like Luke Schenn, Braydon Cobourn, and Nicklas Grossman are better known for their defensive prowess than for their ability to generate offense.  Andrej Meszaros might be the best of the group in terms of starting the transition right now, and while he’s a decent player, when he’s your best puck mover, you are likely in trouble.  He should be the second or third best puck moving defenceman on a team.

Quite simply the Flyers defence have been unable to hit the forwards with good passes in the neutral zone, the type that find a forward skating through the zone with speed and allow him to attack opposing defenders.  In fact in many cases the Flyers cant even get out of their own end without the forwards coming back below the hashmarks in order to gain control of the puck.  It’s cutting out the offence at the legs, and a major reason why the attack has been so easily shut down this year.

In short, many out there are seeing the lack of goals as a function of a group of forwards who are struggling right now, but the real cause of the issue lies elsewhere.  It’s a major problem that Paul Holmgren must fix quickly if the Flyers are going to avoid missing the playoffs for a second straight season, and one that must be solved creatively given the team’s lack of cap space.


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