Penguins won't bury Flyers yet
Claude Giroux doesn't have a goal. Peter Laviolette doesn't have a job. Do the Philadelphia Flyers have a prayer?
The Penguins aren't counting out their biggest rival. When they meet Thursday in Philadelphia, the Penguins have an opportunity to take a 10-point lead on the Flyers just two weeks into the season.
“I am surprised to see them with the record they have now,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said.
The numbers speak for themselves:
• At 1-6-0, the Flyers have the NHL's worst record and fewest amount of points (two).
• The Flyers have scored 10 goals in seven games, equating to the second-to-worst goals-per-game average at 1.43.
• Giroux, dubbed the “best player in the world” by then-coach Laviolette when the Flyers defeated the Penguins in the first round of the 2012 playoffs, has zero goals and two assists.
“It's fine (that they're struggling),” Penguins defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “I'm not sad about it. I'm not cheering for them to fail, but I'm not sad that they are, either.”
The Flyers are dealing with injuries — forwards Scott Hartnell and Vincent Lecavalier are unlikely to play Thursday because of ailments — but still showcase proven scorers like Giroux, Hartnell, Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds.
Former NHL coach Rick Tocchet, a standout forward with the Penguins and Flyers, told the Tribune-Review that Philadelphia's problems are mental.
“Their confidence level is really low,” he said. “That transpires into a costly mistake during a tight situation.”
“It's a long season,” Penguins right wing Pascal Dupuis said, warning that the Flyers are capable of heating up. “There are things in their system that they aren't doing right. I'm sure they're trying to address that, and I'm sure they're looking at this game as a stepping stone for them.”
A lack of scoring has been the Flyers' primary problem.
New goaltender Steve Mason's record is 1-4, but he has been stout between the pipes, boasting a .227 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage.
The team has just 10 goals thus far.
“The thing about this league right now is the parity,” Penguins defenseman Paul Martin said. “If you just have a little stretch where your team is off its game, you're not going to win many games.”
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.
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