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Recurring Habits Will Hurt Flyers in Long Run

10-9-2018_FlyersvsSharks_2ndedit_credKateFrese-51

(Photo: Kate Frese)

By Matt Mastrogiovanni, Sports Talk Philly staff writer 

Many say that old habits die hard. For the Philadelphia Flyers, that's just the case.

After an embarrassing 8-2 loss in their home opener on Tuesday, the team's flaws proved to be their downfall once again.

To kick things off, goaltender Brian Elliott was hung out to dry like a wet towel by his teammates. Sure, eight goals against a goalie looks bad, but the onus isn't fully on the netminder.

Failure to clear the defensive zone, turnovers and overall poor play let the Sharks turn the game into a shooting gallery against Elliott. As many shots as he faced, the veteran goalie somewhat held his own in making 40 saves.

Special teams also contributed to Philadelphia's woes. Offensively, the Flyers went 2-for-6 on the man advantage Tuesday night, including one rather meaningless goal in the final 90 seconds of the game, rendering the power play almost powerless. Last season, the team struggled on special teams offense, boasting one of the lower tier power plays in the league.

The offseason addition of James van Riemsdyk was meant to boost productivity, yet he's now out of commission for the next five weeks. With players like Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Wayne Simmonds and Shayne Gostisbehere on the top unit, there's no reason the power play should struggle, regardless of injury.

The Flyers power play, which was just 3-for-13, did go 2-for-7 in Wednesday's win in Ottawa and sustained pressure throughout, so maybe that gets them clicking after a rather ragged start. 

On the defensive side, the Flyers' penalty kill didn't look too sharp either. After going scoreless on their first 10 power plays of the season, San Jose potted two goals on five opportunities on Tuesday. Lowly Ottawa scored on three of seven opportunities on Wednesday, a total of five power-play goals allowed in two games. After starting the season 6-for-6 on the penalty kill, Colorado's late power-play goal seemed to open the flood gates again for the Flyers. They are just 7-for-13 on the penalty kill since.

It seems that Philadelphia wanted to give the Sharks a little man advantage confidence. At No. 29 in the league with a 75.8 percent penalty kill last season, things looked like they didn't change much based on the last two nights.

Overall, the same things that plagued the Flyers last season came back to bite them on Tuesday and could have on Wednesday, despite the win. Sloppy play, poor special teams and the inability to support the goaltending let the Sharks have a feeding frenzy at the Wells Fargo Center and kept the Senators in the game.

If Philadelphia isn't able to tighten up going forward then they'll find themselves in an extremely difficult spot in terms of fighting for a playoff spot down the line. 

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