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The Flyers are already good, just imagine if they can remedy their slow starts

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It’s December and Alain Vigneault’s team still slumps in the first period, but they sure do ramp things up in the next two periods.

NHL: NOV 30 Flyers at Canadiens Photo by Vincent Ethier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

A lot has gone right for the Flyers thus far, and while their record portrays that, there’s still work to be done in order to go to the next level.

Teams can make leaps from good to great in a matter or time, but it’s almost always a progression and doesn’t happen overnight. Much like a game is progression from puck drop through two intermissions to the final horn. In terms of game progression, the Flyers’ bugaboo has been the very start of games —and the first period of games to be specific.

When you breakdown the Flyers’ work over the course of a game the results end up being pretty cut and dry.

In the first period the Flyers are both outscored and outshot (all situations), though they close both those gaps by the end of the second period. In the third period, the afterburners are activated and the Flyers are straight-up hammering opposing teams into submission.

Scoring by period

Overall First period Second period Third period OT Total
Overall First period Second period Third period OT Total
Flyers 25 24 37 2 88
Opponent 27 22 25 0 74
Via Hockeyreference

Through two period the Flyers are even scoring wise having given up two more goals in the first and scoring two more goals in the second. But in the third period the numbers jump dramatically in terms of differential with a +12 for the Flyers. Throw in the two overtime winners and none in the loss column and the Flyers are +14 in winning time down the stretch of games. The Flyers trail just the Bruins in terms of third period goal scoring (39 to 37).

The shot totals bear this as well, as the Flyers ramp up their production as the game goes along and peaking late in games. After getting marginally outshot in the first period, the Flyers tilt the ice shot-wise in both periods two and three.

Shots by period

Overall First period Second period Third period OT Total
Overall First period Second period Third period OT Total
Flyers 272 319 307 26 924
Opponent 277 258 257 27 819
Via Hockeyreference

While we’re talking shots on goal only here, the Flyers have also been a top-10 Corsi For team this season per NaturalStatTrick. That means that we’re talking real attempts on net, and not ones into shin pads. From the first intermission on the Flyers are controlling the puck, generating shots on net, and the goals are following.

The reason the Flyers close so strong? Credit Alain Vigneault and the coaching staff for a tough practice regimen that has been bearing the fruits of their labor.

Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov have both commented on how the Flyers’ practices under Vigneault and his staff have contributed to them wearing down opponents as games go on.

“There’s a very high tempo, and there’s not a lot of breaks,” Konecny told Philly.com before a game against Montreal in early November. “And even the breaks we do get, we’re doing laps in between. It’s little things that people laugh at and don’t really understand the logic behind it, but look at the third periods and we’re outskating teams.”

Ivan Provorov echoed that sentiment and since then the Flyers have been one of the NHL’s best teams, going 8-2-3 in that span to vault themselves into a playoff position.

Vigneault and his staff have push nearly all the right buttons through the early part of December, but the Flyers still aren’t quite putting together 60-minute hockey games just yet. Given the success they’ve had despite their slew of slow starts, they’re going to be a very dangerous hockey team when they do find a way to get going right from opening puck drop.


*All statistics generated before puck drop in games on 12/5/19.