The Flyers may have gotten their first win of the 2013-14 season out of the way on Tuesday, but the club is still searching for goals in the early going.
Headed into Friday’s matchup against the Phoenix Coyotes (2-2-0), the Flyers (1-3-0) have netted just five goals in four games.
With puck drop set for 7 p.m. on CSN, here are five things you need to know for Flyers-Coyotes:
1) Get “G” going
Claude Giroux, who has led the Flyers in scoring the past three seasons, has struggled to find his offensive game so far in this campaign. He has fired 10 shots on net, but has zero points in the team’s first four games.
Giroux on Wednesday said his hand, which required surgery in August to repair severed tendons from a freak golfing accident, isn’t bothering him but his confidence is (see story).
“The confidence is not there,” Giroux said. “I don’t think it’s the hand -- the confidence is just not there. I will be fine. A few bad games, you always have a stretch like that during the season. Going day by day. We have a new system today and guys did a good job working it. It’s an ugly win, but we’ll take it.”
Although Giroux netted two markers in the Flyers’ first two games last year, the 25-year-old didn’t get off to the best start. He had just two assists -- both in a 7-1 rout of the Florida Panthers on Jan. 26 -- in the club’s next six games.
Giroux isn’t the only forward struggling to find the back of the net, but if the Flyers want to be successful they’re going to need their captain -- and main offensive weapon -- to find his confidence soon.
Is 22-year-old Brayden Schenn finally poised for a breakout season?
It sure looks like it through the first four games. Schenn has registered 11 hits, seven shots and three points and has shown some chemistry with first-year Flyer Vinny Lecavalier on the Flyers’ second line.
The young forward hasn’t quite lived up to his much-talked about potential since being acquired by the Flyers as part of the Mike Richards trade in 2011. In his first two seasons in orange and black, Schenn scored 20 goals and assisted 26 more in 110 games.
Schenn’s contract expires after this season. In the preseason, he said he wasn’t worried about his contract situation and was more focused on finding “consistency.”
The season is still young, but don’t be surprised if you see a lot more from No. 10 this year.
3) Between the pipes
Steve Mason has the hot hand in net as the Flyers prepare for Phoenix. Granted, Mason has started three of the Flyers’ first four games, but the netminder has put up impressive numbers (.936 save percentage, 2.02 goals-against average) and was the main reason why the Flyers came away with a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.
New head coach Craig Berube hasn’t named a No. 1 goaltender and isn’t expected to any time soon. He reiterated earlier this week that the goaltending situation will “work itself out.”
The Flyers enter their second back-to-back situation this season with the Coyotes in town Friday and a matchup with the Red Wings in Detroit on Saturday. It’s likely Mason and Ray Emery will split those games.
4) Catching up with the Coyotes
Thanks to last year’s lockout-shortened season, in which teams played only within their conference, the Flyers have not played the Coyotes since Dec. 3, 2011. The orange and black won that game, 4-2.
The last time the Coyotes traveled to Philadelphia was Nov. 17, 2011. The Flyers handed Phoenix a 2-1 loss at Wells Fargo Center on that night.
The Coyotes went 21-18-9 and finished 10th in the Western Conference last year, failing to reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2008-09 season.
5) This and that
• In 2011-12, Matt Read collected two goals and two assists in two games against Phoenix. Giroux and Scott Hartnell added a tally and a helper each in the season series.
• Coyotes captain Shane Doan has had plenty of success in his NHL career, but not against the Flyers. In 21 regular-season games against the orange and black, Doan has just four goals and is a minus-9.
• Zac Rinaldo is averaging less than 10 minutes per game, but has registered 24 hits in the Flyers’ first four games.