Granted, it’s an extremely small sample size, but the Philadelphia Flyers’ 3-1 start isn’t just encouraging because of their record.
It’s encouraging because of the intangibles — the fight and resiliency they’ve shown — and for the way the defense, power play, and goaltending have made strides.
Entering Friday, the Carter Hart-led Flyers are tied for sixth in the NHL in goals allowed per game (2.50); they finished 27th last season, permitting 3.59 goals per game.
Their power play is clicking at 25% — about double the production of last season, when they were last in the NHL at 12.6%. Entering Friday, they are tied for 13th in the league this season. Oh, and they had scored a power-play goal in each of their four games.
Again, it’s only four games, but John Tortorella and his staff — including assistant coach Rocky Thompson, who runs the power play — have things going in the right direction.
Next stop: Music City
The Flyers (3-1) will end their tough three-game road trip by playing Saturday night in Nashville (2-3-1), which is coming off Thursday’s 5-3 loss in Columbus.
The Predators blew a 3-1 third-period lead as Johnny Gaudreau sparked the Blue Jackets’ rally.
The Flyers will be trying to bounce back from their first loss of the season, a 4-3 defeat Wednesday in Florida.
Tortorella said the Flyers were “back on their heels too much” early in the game. “We just have to keep on working, but I was happy with the effort. I thought we got better as game went on,” he said.
After sitting out Wednesday’s loss in Florida, Hart will be back in the nets Saturday. Hart, 24, is off to an impressive start: 3-0 with a 2.00 GAA and .943 save percentage.
Among goalies who have played at least three games, he is third in save percentage.
Hart (3.16, .905 last season) is expected to face Nashville’s Juuse Saros (3.00, .897), who is off the a slow start.
The Flyers’ average age is 26.7, while the league’s average is 28.1. That makes the 3-1 start even more noteworthy.
In five-on-five play, Flyers goalies have an eye-opening .940 save percentage, which is well above the league average (.918) at even strength. … Travis Konecny and Kevin Hayes lead the Flyers with six points apiece. Konecny also tops the team in goals (4), shots (15) and shooting percentage (27.7%). … Ivan Provorov has a team-high 15 blocked shots, and Nick Deslauriers leads the Flyers with 13 hits, even though he averages just 8:21 per game. … James van Riemsdyk has five points in four games and leads the Flyers with a plus-4 rating. … Saturday’s 8 p.m. game in Nashville will be shown on NBC Sports Philadelphia+.