On Tuesday afternoon, Chuck Fletcher sounded a lot like the general manager that spoke at the end of the 2018-19 season, the general manager that was about four months on the job, ready to retool, fix and essentially restart the Flyers.
The Flyers are not at the beginning of their process anymore but Fletcher on Tuesday was back to mentioning how his club at times has unnecessarily made life hard on itself through the first 10 games of the 2020-21 season.
He highlighted the inconsistent decision-making of the forwards having a trickle-down effect on the entire team, an issue that was called out by head coach Alain Vigneault just three days prior when he benched Travis Konecny.
"Our group of forwards to me haven’t played to the level they need to play at," Fletcher said. "I think they’ve made the game extremely difficult for our defensemen and for our goaltenders."
As a whole, the Flyers on Wednesday night made the game extremely difficult on themselves in a dispiriting 4-3 overtime loss to the Bruins at the Wells Fargo Center. The finish to the third period was the perfect summation of why the Flyers haven't shaken the criticism or concern through their 7-2-2 start.
They have beaten themselves.
They did so in the worst way Wednesday night by committing three penalties over the final eight minutes of regulation and asking one of hockey's scariest power play units to take the game from them. The Flyers, who looked like a true contender when they seized a 3-1 lead, created their own collapse. David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and company delivered three power play goals to stun the Flyers, who got what they had made.
"You feel you’re in real good shape, but then you let elite players — by taking penalties — make a difference," Vigneault said Wednesday night after the loss.
"Gave an opportunity to their top players to step on the ice here. They’re elite players and they found a way to make a difference in the game.
"It’s a lesson that we’ll learn and we’ll get ready for the next game. ... You've got no time to feel sorry for yourself, you've got to get right back at it and that’s what we’re going to do."
Through three matchups, the Flyers are 0-1-2 against the Bruins, who are probably their biggest competition in the realigned East Division. The Flyers have allowed nine third-period goals to Boston and have coughed up a pair of two-goal leads in the final stanza. In their other eight games, they've yielded a combined six third-period goals.
The Flyers entered Thursday putting up the NHL's fewest shots per game (23.7), allowing the third-most shots per game (33.8) and surrendering the fifth-most power play goals per game (1.09).
They allowed the NHL's fewest shots per game last season and played like a different team over a much larger sample size of 69 games.
The Flyers are 7-2-2 and know they can be significantly better. There's no Matt Niskanen and Sean Couturier has been out. But there's no excuse for beating yourself like the Flyers did Wednesday night.
"A 56-game sprint to try to make the playoffs and any time you can bank 15 points over your first 10 games, you have to be happy with the results," Fletcher said Tuesday. "I’m not sure the process is where we want it to be, I’m not sure we’re playing at the level we want to be, and I think it’s a good thing — I don’t think anybody in our room is fooled by our record. I think our coaches understand the work that we need to do to get better and we’re going about working on the things we need to work on to get better.
"What I respect about this group is we find a way and the will to win is high. Again, there are certain areas of our game that clearly need to get better, but every night somebody steps up or some element of our game allows us to get the win."
The Flyers allowed a game to get away Wednesday. They've got the Bruins again Friday night. There isn't a better time for them to show just how much better they can be.
Fletcher and Vigneault would like to see it just as much as the fan base.
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