Flyers having trouble taking flight

AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:03 AM ET

The Philadelphia Flyers were supposed to be a powerhouse this season.

And they may still be.

They showed flashes of brilliance at times last night.

But the rest of the night, the Maple Leafs were more than a match for them and came away with a 4-2 victory, handing the Flyers their second loss in three games.

Once again, the Flyers got off to a sluggish start. Every game so far, they've fallen behind -- and played poorly in the process.

"I think that's probably a fair assessment," Flyers captain Keith Primeau said. "And I wish I had an answer. We're just not finding any kind of rhythm right now early in the games.

"We come with lots of expectations and teams are going to be prepared for us. We've got to be prepared to meet their effort."

The Leafs came out with a rush and, considering the heat they've been taking locally and their previously winless record, that was no surprise.

"They had to come out and play strong in the first," said Philly defenceman Eric Desjardins. "There's no reason we started slowly. We just have to make sure we come out better. It's not a matter of getting used to new rules. We've played enough games now.

"I think it's going to get better, but that's no excuse. We were fine going into the third but couldn't seem to find a way to score the big goal and stop them scoring on the power play."

The teams traded goals in the first period, and in the second Kyle Wellwood converted a neat Matt Stajan pass to put Toronto in front with his first NHL goal.

That goal seemed to sting the Flyers, and suddenly all the action was at one end.

Had it not been for some astonishingly inaccurate shooting by the Flyers, the game quickly would have become a blowout.

The Flyers shot from every angle while the Leafs stood around looking shell-shocked and waiting for rebounds. Unless you're one of those unfortunate people who has to use Pearson Airport, you're never likely to see more white-shirted people standing around doing nothing.

But the Flyers got only one goal, from Simon Gagne, thanks to some fine work by Mikael Tellqvist.

"He made some unbelievable saves," Flyers forward Brian Savage said. "Especially on the power play."

The Air Canada Centre ice was horrible as usual, and both sides were having trouble corralling passes, but despite their relentless attack, the Flyers seem to have a lot of trouble during that second-period barrage.

"You've still got to take advantage," Primeau said. "The puck was bouncing all night, but even so, I didn't think we had a lot of sustained quality pressure.

"There was that stretch in the second period where we had a lot of quality chances and started to come at them, but other than that, I didn't think we really threatened."

In the third period, the Leafs finished off the Flyers with a pair of goals, the first on a power play, the second as a power play ended.

Jeff O'Neill got his first goal as a Leaf, then just when Gagne's penalty for inducing Tie Domi to perform a half-gainer wound down, Eric Lindros snapped a nice shot past Robert Esche.

The Flyers were quick to give credit to Tellqvist and the Leafs' early effort, but even so, they feel they're a long way from playing the way they think they can.

"That's part of a lot of new faces," Primeau said. "Not only guys from other teams around the league, but a lot of new young faces. This is a tough league at the best of times, and when you're dressing a lot of new young faces and a lot of veterans as well, you've got to find ways.

"Early in the season, we haven't found ways."

But the Maple Leafs, finally, did.


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