10 observations from Flyers first week of 2018-19 NHL season

Philadelphia Flyers Sean Couturier NHL

The start to the season could have gone better for the Flyers, but it also could have gone worse. They persevered through a two-game western road trip to open the year, an embarrassing home loss, then had to trek to Ottawa but still emerged with a respectable 2-2 record.

Not great but, again, not bad. Although it’s not a big sample size, here are 10 things we’ve learned about the Flyers in the first week of the season.

1. Slow starts still an issue

The Flyers were notorious for beginning games poorly last season when they allowed the first goal the majority of the time, and the trend has carried over into this season. They have given up the first goal in each of their first four games.

2. Inconsistency still an issue

Just like last year, you never know which Flyers team will show up from game to game.

3. PK needs improvement

The Flyers’ penalty kill was ranked 29th out of 31 teams last year. Heading into Wednesday’s game, the Flyers unit had surrendered the most power play goals (3) and was ranked 25h.

4. Defense needs improvement

Only the lowly Senators have allowed more goals than the Flyers, who are committing too many turnovers, unforced errors, and making poor decisions.

5. They are resilient

One day after suffering an 8-2 loss to the Sharks in the home opener, the Flyers rebounded to defeat the Senators, 7-4. The players showed they were able to put an ugly loss quickly behind them.

6. Postgame interviews are now rated-R

Keep the earmuffs handy when children are present for those interviews. Shayne Gostisbehere and captain Claude Giroux each dropped expletives while answering reporters’ questions after the loss to the Sharks.

7. Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier are healthy

The veteran forwards were each recovering from offseason surgeries during the preseason and their only preseason appearance was in the final exhibition game. Through the first week, though, the two alternate captains look like they are 100 percent. Simmonds (three goals, one assist) is stronger and faster with the puck, while Couturier (two goals) is moving smoothly on the ice.

8. James van Riemsdyk and Nolan Patrick are on the injury list

The Flyers will be without the services of JVR, who was signed to a $35 million contract in July, until mid-November after suffering a lower-body injury (he was hit in the knee with a shot) against the Colorado Avalanche over the weekend. Patrick left Wednesday’s game in the first period with an upper-body injury and his status is unknown. It’s a tough early blow for the offense, whose depth will be tested.

9. Defense providing offense

While the backline needs to do a better job of keeping pucks out of their own net, the defensemen have done a stellar job supplementing the offense. Surprisingly led by Radko Gudas (four assists), they have 12 points so far.

10. Fans like Gritty

In dramatic fashion, the team formally introduced their new mascot before the home opener. Gritty was propelled down from the rafters to the ice and greeted by – gulp – a loud ovation. It’s amazing how quickly fans have embraced the orange creature after many on social media following his unveiling two weeks ago vilified him.

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