The Philadelphia Flyers have major issues.
The defense is weak. Goaltending remains a question, though there have been encouraging signs. Even the offense, thought to be a strength, has struggled at times in the first six games of the season.
With all that being said, the Flyers’ 2-4 start needs to be put into a little bit of perspective.
The schedule has been brutal thus far. All six games so far have come against the top two-thirds of the Eastern Conference according to last season’s final standings. The only non-playoff teams they have faced have been the Tampa Bay Lightning and Buffalo Sabres, both of whom they played on the road on the second part of back-to-backs.
The next two games are against the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals, both playoff teams from last season.
But then things should ease up a bit.
Starting Saturday, eight of the Flyers’ next 13 games will be against teams that finished in the bottom third of the conference last season.
There will be two games in eight days against the very beatable Carolina Hurricanes. Two each against the Winnipeg Jets and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Make no mistake: With a 48-game schedule that features no interconference play and is heavy on division matchups, the Flyers face a challenge playing in arguably the toughest division in the league. More than one-quarter of their schedule is against the Rangers (five games), New Jersey Devils (five) and Pittsburgh Penguins (four).
But they also get four games against the New York Islanders.
Excuses, excuses. I know. But this isn't to say the Flyers are playing Cup-level hockey right now. The point is simply that, as Flyers fans go into full panic mode, they should take a minute to consider this one factor.
Of course, it would be nice to win some against better teams. Thursday’s win over the Rangers showed that at their best, the Flyers are a Stanley Cup contender.
But it’s always important for teams to win games they should win - especially during an abbreviated season - and the Flyers will have some chances to do that soon.