This summer, Russ and I had Flyers GM Ron Hextall on the Snow The Goalie podcast and asked him about the team’s identity.
Hextall admitted they didn’t have one yet and that they would be looking to find that identity this season.
Well, after seven games, they better hope the identity they have to start the season is not the identity they keep for the entire season because this identity is one of a bad, bad defensive team.
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I did not see the 6-3 loss to Columbus last night live. I had a conflict and instead scheduled myself to watch it at the crack of dawn this morning. I made it through a period and a half and then just fast forwarded to the goals.
I mean, to be honest, with the exception of the game against Vegas last Saturday, what I’m seeing is quite repetitive.
This team’s defense is dreadful right now.
And it’s not just the defensemen, although they are part of it. It’s the forwards not helping out by not getting back into the zone or by turning the puck over and allowing for an odd man rush the other way, or not winning 50/50 puck battles that lead to goals.
It’s also goaltending, too. Yes, Brian Elliott’s numbers looked terrible to start the season, but he was pretty darn good in those first couple games. But then he started to get mediocre and eventually had to get pulled in the 6-5 shootout win over Florida Tuesday. Meanwhile Calvin Pickard, who was brought in because the Flyers apparently have no confidence in Anthony Stolarz at the NHL level, has had one OK start, one OK relief performance, and last night’s poor outing in which he let up six goals on 28 shots, only one of which he had no chance of stopping.
Let’s remember this guy was a fourth string goalie in Toronto before being waived.
Nevertheless, the mistakes are mounting. The Flyers have allowed 31 goals in just seven games for a 4.43 goals against average. Somehow that’s only the second-worst mark in the NHL as Detroit has allowed 33 goals in seven games (4.71 GAA) but the difference is the Red Wings also are the worst team in hockey right now at 0-5-2.
Frankly, only in that Vegas game – a 1-0 loss by the way – was there a collectively well-played defensive game. Every other game, including all three victories for the Flyers, was below the bar or much worse.