Durso: Flyers need defense but must stick to plan

Luke Schenn and the Flyers defense have been a huge problem as the Flyers play elite teams early in the season. (Photo by Amy Irvin/38Photography)
The Flyers season is six games old. They have a 1-3-2 record. It could, and probably should, be a lot better.
The Flyers have played better than the record indicates. But losses are still losses and it's hard to ignore the glaring holes the Flyers didn't fill in the offseason that are ever present.
There have been calls for Craig Berube to be fired. There are some who think Claude Giroux isn't cut out to be captain. Those claims are utterly ridiculous. 
The Flyers problem has always been on defense. It is the six players they dress on the blue line on a regular basis. It is the forwards that struggle to play two-way hockey. And it is a helpless goaltender who does all he can to somehow survive a shooting gallery.
They need an overhaul. And believe me, it is coming. But there will not be a quick fix and the Flyers can't give into the temptation.

For once, a higher member of the Flyers front office didn't sugarcoat reality. Ron Hextall said the Flyers were not among the group of elite teams in the NHL. And for the first five games, the Flyers did their best to hide that. On Tuesday, it was impossible to hide.
On one blue line, there was Duncan Keith and Brett Seabrook. On the other, Andrew MacDonald and Nick Grossmann. There is no competition.
So the Flyers face both a serious lack of talent. There is a lot of it waiting in the minor leagues. The most notable of these prospects is Shayne Gostisbehere, who would almost definitely become a top defenseman on this team within a couple months.
But Gostisbehere has less than 10 professional games under his belt, and while his presence would be welcome on the blue line of the Flyers, his time in the minors is valuable too.
Hextall is in a tough spot, and honestly, I feel bad for him. He has to make up for some very poor decisions made by Paul Holmgren. The pieces are definitely in place. But his hands are tied, at least for this season.
A year is a lot to ask from Flyers fans. They expect a winning team. Chances are this season will turn out a lot like the others: a mildly good playoff team that gives you a few moments throughout the season, moments that allow the thoughts of deep playoff runs to creep into your head.
It won't be the disappointing season fans believe is coming. Even with a 1-3-2 start, the Flyers schedule becomes significantly less daunting when the competition levels out in November.
But it will certainly be a long season watching a defensive group that lacks the skills. The Flyers have always used little characteristics as bragging points. Grossmann is a shot-blocking machine. Luke Schenn just needs a change of scenary. But this is what you get. Reality bites sometimes.
If anything, the Flyers best decision of the season will be patience. It will be trying to get these players to stay at their highest level – which did help the Flyers recover last season from a 1-7-0 start – and back to playoff form.
It is a long road ahead for this Flyers team. But there is a lot of season left too.
There are better things coming regardless. You just have to wait for them. And it may be toughest for Hextall and the Flyers to be patient if this keeps up.
Kevin Durso is the Managing Editor for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @KDursoPhilsNet.