Fly Guys stumble out of the gates

Matt Radziwill ('10)/Flyers Beat Writer

With the Phillies heading to the World Series for the first time since 1993, most Philadelphia sports fans have simply put the Flyers ice cold start to the season on the back burner for a while. This is a Flyers team that played deep into the playoffs last year but were eventually eliminated by their archrivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Flyers were an anxious bunch most of the off-season, getting geared up for another chance at a post-season appearance to prove that last year was definitely not a fluke.

 Up to this point, the Flyers have a disappointing record of just 0-3-2 in their first 5 games of the regular season and have allowed a whopping 22 goals against. Even though the Flyers are winless in their first 5 games there is no way I am giving up on them this early. I mean come on, are we really surprised by this? It’s not like we have been spoiled in the past by Flyers teams roaring out of the gates, and this year appears to be no different.

 As for an explanation for their bad start it all goes back to their Achilles’ heel of the past few seasons; defense and goaltending. Key injuries to young defensemen Randy Jones and Ryan Parent in addition to the loss of Derian Hatcher have pushed newly acquired Andrew Alberts, Steve Eminger, Ossi Vaananen and 19-year-old Luca Sbisa right into the middle of the lineup. Defensemen Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen, who are respectively averaging over 23 and 27 minutes of time on ice per game, continue to be the go-to high ice time guys. The Flyers coaching staff has got to find a way to piece together the rest of the defense around them.

 As for the goaltending, Martin Biron has been off his game to say the least allowing 13 goals in just 3 starts. I expect Marty to bounce back and be the reliable goalkeeper he was during last years playoffs. On a positive note, backup goalie Antero Nittymaki has been quite impressive and is playing quite well not too long after having off-season surgery.

 Stirring the Pot

 Coach John Stevens has made some roster changes reassigning forward Steve Downie to the Phantoms. It certainly seems like they have an overabundance of NHL caliber forwards to choose from.

 Gagne Finally Back

 Simon Gagne only played in 25 games for the orange and black in the 2007-2008 season due to various concussion like symptoms. He has now tallied points in each of the first 5 games, including goals in the first 4.

Upcoming Schedule

The Flyers will resume play against the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday, October 22nd, in hopes of putting a “W” up on the board. The Flyers then play back-to-back games against the division rival New Jersey Devils on the 24th and 25th of October. I think they pick up at least one win against New Jersey , a team that has gradually weakened in the last few years.