Before the start of the season I wrote about the Philadelphia Flyers being one of the ultimate boom-or-bust teams in the NHL. On paper they have the talent to make the playoffs again and maybe even win a round. Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek are outstanding, and they have some excellent young players to help complement them. We saw their “boom” potential in the season opener when they went into Vegas and chased Marc-Andre Fleury.
Over their past two games, and especially in Tuesday’s 8-2 blowout loss to the San Jose Sharks in their home opener, we saw the “bust” potential. That potential comes from the fact that for all of the talent they have up front, and for all of the promise their young defense has, they still have some potentially significant flaws on their blue line and in net.
That was all on display on Tuesday where the Sharks spent the entire night doing pretty much whatever they wanted with the puck, systematically dismantling the Flyers in all three zones and in all situations.
Five-on-five? All Sharks as they outscored the Flyers 5-0 and outshot them by a 34-23 margin at even-strength.
Their inconsistent power play that entered the night 0-for-10 on the season, after finishing 16th a season ago? It went 2-for-5.
Even though the Sharks’ penalty kill surrendered a pair of goals, it also helped make up for it with a shorthanded goal.
From there, the Flyers never had an answer for anything the Sharks did, getting outshot 48-33 while starting goalie Brian Elliott was unable to stop anything, giving up all eight goals. It was the first time in his career that he has given up eight goals in a single game. The Flyers likely kept him in to “take one for the team” because they play again on Wednesday night where Calvin Pickard is expected to get the start.
These were the big question marks for the Flyers entering the season that would ultimately make-or-break their season: Would their young defense take a step forward and be good enough to insulate a questionable, unsettled goaltending situation; and would that goaltending situation be able to find a way to give them some acceptable level of play.
You can’t reach any definitive conclusions after three games, because that is all that it is … just three games. This is, after all, a team that at one point last season lost 11 games in a row and still managed to make the playoffs. But there are still very real flaws on this team that can hold them back and on Tuesday night those flaws were out there for everyone to see.
There are a lot of reasons to like this team and the potential that it has.
There are also reasons to be skeptical of it.