726 - the number of seven-game stretches the Flyers have played in the regular season since the last time they gave up 31 goals in a seven-game span, the way they have in the first seven games of the 2018-19 campaign.
To find the last time the Flyers were quite as bad defensively as they as a team have been so far this year, you have to go back a decade — almost a decade to the date — to the first seven games of the 2008-09 campaign. On October 24, 2008, the Flyers played their seventh game of the season, a 6-3 win over the Devils. That capped off a seven-game stretch that saw the Flyers give up 32 goals — at least three in each game, and at least five in four games — and not once since then have the Flyers seen pucks go into their own net at this rate.
Yes, not once in any season between 2009-10 and 2017-18 did the Flyers display quite the level of overall defensive ineptitude that they have so far this season. Quite the feat.
Why is it so bad? You tell me. This is basically the same roster that was, believe it or not, a decent-ish defensive team last year (the Flyers were 16th in goals allowed in the NHL last year, so essentially league-average, and that was even with a porous, near-league-worst penalty kill). Coaches care a lot about defense, more than they usually do about offense, and we know how much this has to be killing Dave Hakstol. But he doesn’t seem to have the answer, nor does anyone else on this team right now.
If you want some cause for optimism through all the dreck here, that 6-3 win was that team’s first win of the season — they started 0-3-3 on the year — and they rallied to a final record of 44-27-11 (99 points) and a safe playoff spot. So no, the season isn’t over, nor should anyone be saying it is. Still, having to go all the way back a decade to answer the question of “when was the last time it was this bad?” is not something you want to be doing two weeks into the season.
And since the Flyers actually had a pretty solid first game defensively (remember that win over Vegas? Man, that feels like ages ago), a poor defensive performance on Saturday could give the Flyers an even more impressive seven-game stretch of defensive futility. History: let’s not make it.