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November 13, 2017

Flyers must show more consistency moving forward

It is still very early into the National Hockey League season, a little over a month into the schedule, and the Flyers have shown an interesting course so far 17 games in: they’re consistently inconsistent. 

Then again, with the way the NHL is bunched up right now, that could be said for about three-quarters of the teams in the league.

The Flyers are still searching for an identity, it seems. One night they’re beating a team with one of the best records in the NHL, St. Louis, on the road. The next night, they’re losing to the winless Arizona Coyotes at home in overtime. One night, they start off great against the Chicago Blackhawks. The next, they’re losing to the Minnesota Wild, a team that was playing its fourth game away in a six-day span. 

Part of the inconsistency has to do with the Flyers’ imbalanced scoring. If the top line of Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux isn’t producing (and only Couturier played well in the Saturday night loss to Minnesota), no one seems to be doing much of anything. 

The second line of Wayne Simmonds, Travis Konecny and Valtteri Filppula has done little in the last few weeks. Simmonds hasn’t scored a goal in nine straight games, dating back to Oct. 20. The Flyers have been 3-6 during that span. Simmonds has had two assists in the last nine and is a minus-2 in plus-minus stats. Konecny has gone seven-straight games without a goal, dating back to Oct. 26. Filppula has two goals and an assist over the last nine games, but is a minus-3 in that time. 

“I’m not too worried, they’ll get going,” Couturier said after the Minnesota loss Saturday night of the other lines. “Since the start of the year, it’s been the same way, maybe a little more attention [from opposing team’s checking lines]. At the same time, every night, it’s going to be tough. 

“I don’t think we played bad tonight. We faced a team where their goalie was hot. It’s those types of games that as the year goes on, it’s going to get tighter and tighter. I don’t think we looked bad tonight, it was 0-0 game for most of the night. It could have gone either way. If we get a lucky bounce, we’re not talking about inconsistencies.” 

Flyers’ coach Dave Hakstol also seemed to be strangely pleased with how his team played Saturday night. He said he’s been pleased with the power play overall. 

When asked about the imbalanced line play, Hakstol said he didn’t see that against the Wild and that he has no worries moving forward.

“I thought [Laughton]’s line [the Flyers’ fourth line of Taylor Leier, Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl] had three or four good chances to score, we have to stay with it, I’m not going to overact certainly out of one game, we have another tough one against the same team,” Hakstol said. “The differentiating factor is we didn’t get one. We just didn’t get one tonight.”

The effort is there. Seventeen games into the season, no one is questioning that. It’s the results that have been lacking. As the season moves into December, maybe strong efforts may translate into better results.  

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