Among the biggest problems this season for the struggling Philadelphia Flyers has been offense, namely a lack of it.
The Flyers continue a five-game road trip, interrupted by the holiday break, with three games in California — beginning with a Thursday night game against the San Jose Sharks.
Offensively challenged Philadelphia is seeing improvement in that area. It’s a small sample size, but the Flyers have scored 13 goals in their past three games and three or more in each of their past four.
“The results haven’t been there … but I think our game is coming along,” center Scott Laughton said. “Defensively, we’re way better. Obviously we’re having a tough time scoring, but I think the belief in the room is a lot different than it’s been the last couple years. And that goes a long way.”
The Flyers return to action for the first time since taking a 6-5 road loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday. They have lost two straight games and on a 2-5-2 skid.
Still, with a need for a better attack, the team with the fifth fewest goals in the NHL has some players finding their game, notably forward Travis Konecny, who leads the Flyers with 15 goals and 32 points. Konecny has netted 10 goals over his past 15 games and has collected two points in each of his past three games.
Philadelphia received good news before heading to California. Barring a setback, No. 1 goaltender Carter Hart — who was injured in the Carolina game — is expected to start Saturday’s clash with the Los Angeles Kings. Rookie Samuel Ersson is scheduled to face San Jose.
“I was going to play Ersson in San Jose anyway to give Carter time (to recover),” Flyers coach John Tortorella said. “I wanted Ersson to get another start after his (strong) third period in Carolina.”
The Sharks return home after a 6-2 road loss the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday, a result that has San Jose on a 1-3-1 slide. San Jose was down 2-1 early in the second period and had a couple of chances to pull even but saw the Canucks pull away instead.
“It was just sloppy D-zone coverage,” Sharks coach David Quinn said. “It’s something we just can’t have happen at that point in the game, or really at any point.”
The Sharks are struggling to win, but they do have a couple of players rolling on offense. Timo Meier, who scored both goals in Vancouver to reach 300 points in his career, has tallied six times and added three assists in a five-game streak.
Meanwhile, defenseman Erik Karlsson continues to hit the scoresheet. He added a pair of assists against the Canucks to give him 48 points on the season. Only three defensemen in NHL history — Bobby Orr, Paul Coffey and Al MacInnis — have collected more points in his team’s first 36 games.
Karlsson is on a 10-game point-scoring streak in which he has collected two goals and 14 assists.
“Erik’s on a completely different level right now than what I’ve seen in this league in a long time,” San Jose captain Logan Couture said.
Sharks defenseman Matt Benning was injured in Vancouver and is questionable for the Thursday game. Benning briefly skated during Wednesday’s practice.
San Jose is expected to start Kaapo Kahkonen in goal.
–Field Level Media