Flyers trying to solve problem of starting games slow

Philadelphia Flyers Robert Hagg

By now, you’ve probably heard Flyers GM Ron Hextall, coach Dave Hakstol, and nearly every player on the roster give a reason for why the team has a maddening penchant to start games slowly.

Well, all parties are either wrong in their assessment, or they have failed to execute its solution. Or worse, it’s both.

Through the first weeks of this season, and dating back to at least last year, the trend has perplexingly continued to plague the Flyers. When the Colorado Avalanche scored the game’s first goal – en route to a 3-1 victory – on Monday at the Wells Fargo Center, it was the eighth time in nine games that the Flyers have yielded the opening tally, and it set the foundation for a lackluster 20 minutes.

The issue then led to a deluge of questions from reporters on what is causing the slow starts to keep occurring and how does the team plan to remedy the problem.

Here’s a sampling of the responses.

“I think it’s just a mindset,” defenseman Travis Sanheim said. “I think coming in we got to be more mentally focused and ready to go when the puck drop starts.”

Nolan Patrick, who scored the lone goal, feels the team is too reactionary as it waited until the Avs took a 3-0 lead to start playing well.

“You see the way we play when we get down, we dominate the game,” he said of a 10-minute stretch in the third period. “That’s kinda something we need to do for a full 60 minutes. We can’t wait until we’re down to start making a push like that.”

Then, there’s Robert Hagg, who offered a tactical fix.

“I think it starts from the defensemen back down,” the second-year defenseman said. “I mean, we need to play the puck, [and] it seems like we’re holding on to it too much. The forwards are stretched out to the red line and then we don’t have anything to play. So I think we have to start back there and move it up quicker up ice.”

OK, interesting. However, forward Wayne Simmonds went in a different direction.

“We have to get the pucks deep and look to make plays after that,” he said. Not as detailed as Hagg, but simple enough.

The coach talked about consistency since the Flyers played a strong first period over the weekend against the New Jersey Devils but didn’t carry it over to the next game. When asked how to reverse it, he responded, “You address it directly and keep pushing on it. I liked our start [against the Devils] and then we come out [against the Avs] and we’re not sharp, we’re not ready and we’re not crisp with the puck and that puts us back on our heels.”

The overarching concern, though, is the coach and team has addressed it for the first month of this season and a large chunk of last season without getting any consistent degree of a different result.

The Flyers can only hope that the latest concepts and ideas shared on Monday night lead to a cure, starting with Thursday’s game in Boston.

Otherwise, it will trigger another round of questions in what has developed into a process of rinse and repeat.

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