3 Flyers thoughts: The 8-3-2 start, Jay O'Brien's progress, Lake Tahoe outdoor game

Jordan Hall
·5 min read

Debating 8-3-2 team, an update on 1st-round pick, more in 3 Flyers thoughts originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Flyers are at a COVID-19 standstill and aiming for a return to practice on Monday.

With all four of their games this week postponed, let's get into our latest three Flyers thoughts.

1. What's Bru-ing with the Flyers?

The Flyers are 8-3-2 and got off to their best 10-game start since the 2002-03 season.

But the sense is a good portion of the fan base has been concerned with how the Flyers have played. The concern is justifiable. The Flyers have not featured the goal-prevention and shot-prevention strengths that were a staple of the team's run down the 2019-20 regular-season stretch.

The Flyers entered Thursday putting up the NHL's fewest shots per game (23.7), allowing the third most (33.2) and surrendering 3.08 goals per game. They've been outshot in 11 of their 13 games, with eight of them by double-digit margins.

In 2019-20, the Flyers permitted the league's fewest shots per game (28.7) and yielded 2.77 goals per game. Through their 69 regular-season games, the Flyers were outshot by a double-digit margin only eight times.

Perhaps the Flyers' style has changed with different personnel. The Flyers might be a more opportunistic, offensively-built team in 2020-21. But then again, 13 games could be a small sample size of a team, following an unusual offseason and a significantly shortened training camp, still figuring it out but finding a way.

And are the Flyers all that far off or flawed?

Consider this:

The Bruins opened the weekend with a 9-1-2 record and an NHL-best .833 points percentage.

The Flyers are 8-1-0 against teams excluding the Bruins. They're 0-2-2 against Boston, held a third-period lead in three of those four losses and didn't have Sean Couturier for any of the matchups.

Expectations are higher and the Flyers need to play better, but the team is not in alarming shape.

2. 'He looks much more confident'

In his first year with Boston University, Flyers prospect Jay O'Brien has six points (three goals, three assists) in eight games. Five of his six points have come on the power play. The 21-year-old sophomore has topped his totals in goals and points from his freshman season at Providence.

That's solid and notable progress for the 2018 first-round pick. O'Brien went through a challenging transition to the college game in 2018-19 (two goals, three assists in 25 games) and required a change of scenery. Last season, he had a productive stepping-stone year in the BCHL with 66 points (25 goals, 41 assists) in 46 games.

O'Brien went scoreless in the Terriers' past two games. He'll be back in action this weekend when B.U. visits Vermont for games on Friday and Saturday.

"I didn’t see the last two games but he had a decent start offensively," Flyers assistant general manager Brent Flahr said Thursday to NBC Sports Philadelphia. "It’s been a mess of a season for B.U. with all the shutdowns and games missed, so it’s hard for them to get in much of a rhythm, but he looks much more confident and ready to contribute at that level right now. He’s playing a lot and in offensive situations, so he should only grow from here."

Update: O'Brien had a four-point weekend, including a hat trick Saturday night, giving him 10 points (six goals, four assists) in 10 games this season.

3. Building the show at Lake Tahoe

The Flyers have one game before their Lake Tahoe spectacle against the Bruins. The team's next scheduled game is next Thursday against the Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers are then scheduled to travel to Stateline, Nevada, to face Boston in the NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe event next Sunday.

Of course, the NHL has a close eye on the Flyers' current situation.

The two games should be a treat for all those involved, especially photographers.

"They’re all special and it’s an honor to play in any one of them," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said on Feb. 2 about outdoor games. "This one, I know our group is really excited about the opportunity to go there. It’s going to be essentially a rink in the middle of a pastoral setting with the mountains in the background, the lake in the background. There won’t be fans. It’s going to be a completely different experience. It’s going to be fascinating to see, it should be beautiful. The Bruins are a great opponent. It’ll definitely be a unique experience, playing an outdoor game without people, without fans in the crowd. We’re looking forward to it. Anytime the league asks you to participate, it’s an honor."

Here's a peek at some visuals from Lake Tahoe at Edgewood Tahoe Resort:

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