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Consecutive wins for Saints, who host Eagles on Sunday

Flyers Notebook: Allowing too many goals

Posted by Eric Fisher On November 4

Entering their current West Coast trip, the Flyers had allowed more goals than any team in the NHL. They seem to have slowed the tide somewhat during this road trip, allowing two goals apiece to the Ducks and Kings before giving up four in an overtime loss to the Sharks. Now the Flyers only rank third-worst in the NHL.

There are numerous reasons why the Flyers have been allowing goals by the bushel. Foremost among those reasons are goaltending, turnovers and lack of offensive pressure.

The goaltending hasn’t been good. Brian Elliott’s save percentage is .893 in 10 starts. In four games, Calvin Pickard’s save percentage is 851. In one game, the often-injured Michal Neuvirth’s save percentage is .727. There are factors, such as the quality of opponents’ opportunities, that affect save percentage, but nobody can argue that the Flyers’ goalies haven’t allowed some soft goals while not making their share of big saves.

There also is no denying that the goalies have been left hung out to dry far too often. Turnovers have led to repeated odd-man rushes. Failure to get the puck out of the zone has led to too many second and third chances.

Poor goaltending and too many turnovers adds up to poor penalty killing. The Flyers have only killed off 68.6 percent of their penalties, the second-worst percentage in the NHL. Basically, opponents are scoring on almost one out of every three power play opportunities. That’s horrendous.

An overlooked factor in the number of goals the Flyers have allowed is that they’re not spending sustained time in the offensive zone very often. Keeping the puck at the offensive end of the ice is a great way to keep the puck out of your own net.

The Flyers must improve in all three of these areas in order to reduce the number of goals they allow. If they don’t reduce the number of goals they allow, they won’t make the playoffs, let alone win a series or two.

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NOTHING SPECIAL: Not only are the Flyers second-worst in the NHL in penalty killing, but their power play (14.6 percent) is ranked 25th. Special teams must improve dramatically in order for the Flyers to make the playoffs.

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SCORING FIRST: After scoring first just once in their first 11 games, the Flyers scored first on the first three games of their current road trip.

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PROVOROV STEPS UP: After a rough start to the season, Ivan Provorov has played much better during the first three games of the current road trip. Provorov scored during wins over the Ducks and Kings and added an assist against the Sharks. More importantly, Provorov looks steadier in the defensive zone.

Provorov’s poise beyond his years is what stood out during his first two NHL seasons. It’s an encouraging sign to see Provorov flashing his familiar form.

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YOUNG GUNS: The Flyers’ best line during their West Coast resurgence has been the line of Nolan Patrick, Oskar Lindblom and Jakub Voracek. The play of youngsters Patrick and Lindblom has been particularly effective.

Patrick scored the game-winning goal with less than two minutes remaining in the Flyers’ 3-2 victory over the Ducks. He scored again during the loss to the Sharks, with Lindblom assisting on two of the Flyers’ three goals.

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UPS AND DOWNS: Defenseman Travis Sanheim provides a spark when he jumps up into the playoff on offense, yet he makes far too many turnovers and mistakes in his own zone. One of the keys to Sanheim’s future is being able to develop more consistency and to reduce the frequency of his mistakes.

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ROSTER MOVES: After the Flyers dropped a 6-1 decision to the Islanders, extending their losing streak to three games, they sent preseason sensation Mikhail Vorobyev to the Phantoms and put Corban Knight on injured reserve. The Flyers recalled forwards Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Tyrell Goulbourne. Aube-Kubel has appeared in three games, so the new additions haven’t made much of a difference on the ice, but the message being sent was clear.

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SURPRISING STATS: After 14 games who could have imagined that Shayne Gostisbehere would have just one goal and Sean Couturier would only have one assist?

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LOOKAHEAD: The Flyers’ next two games are against the Coyotes. They finish their road trip Monday (9 p.m.) at Arizona, and then kick off a homestand on Thursday (7 p.m.) against the Coyotes. The homestand will continue Saturday (1 p.m.) against the Blackhawks, followed by games next week against the Panthers, Devils and Lightning.

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