The 2021 NHL season is only days old, and the Flyers are off to a 3-1-0 start.
It wouldn’t be a true Flyers season without quite a few bumps in the road, right?

That could hold true for any Philadelphia sports team.  The Flyers have once again been hit with the injury bug and will be missing team MVP Sean Couturier for at least two weeks.  Couturier’s replacement Morgan Frost may also miss time after being injured Tuesday night, going along with defenseman Phil Myers.

Both players exited Tuesday’s game and will be undergoing MRIs today, per coach Alain Vigneault.

So, what’s next?

Photo: Connor Bunnaman/JustSports Photography

As Kevin Hayes has mentioned multiple times, the team’s “Next Man Up” mentality sets them apart from the rest of the league.  Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon has given similar remarks regarding the Avalanche during their injury-plagued bubble experience in 2020.

In order for Philadelphia to be successful in the coming weeks, the team will have to adapt greatly to a difficult schedule and familiarizing some new faces with the system.

With Frost and Couturier out, expect to see Connor Bunnaman getting some minutes once added to the active roster.  Bunnaman played 21 NHL games last season while tallying 2 points. With the improvements we have seen this season from players like Nic Aube-Kubel and Nolan Patrick, Bunnaman’s production could certainly see an increase.  Despite the offensive firepower demonstrated during the season-opening Pittsburgh series, AV shuffled the lines around following Monday’s blowout loss to the Sabres. While Bunnaman will likely be relegated to the 4th line, we may see him paired up with 1st or 2nd liners to add some parity throughout the Flyers’ rotation.

The defensive side of the puck is in a more grim status at the moment.  Besides the Sabres blowout, the offense has gotten the job done with 14 goals in 3 games.  However, certain blueliners have failed to meet expectations thus far and must improve if the Flyers want to make a run this year.  New addition Erik Gustafsson has looked out of place the past few games and was involved in a few key giveaways that led directly to goals against.  As I wrote last week, this team needs to fill the hole left by Matt Niskanen, and that hole appears to be gaping at the moment.  Myers showed potential to be a top-pairing D in the first few games, but with his injury, Mark Friedman is next in line to be called up.  Given the fact that very few D combinations have appeared to mesh well thus far, it is unclear where Friedman would fit in the rotation.

With Shayne Gostisbehere’s future in doubt, the coaching staff will need to adjust and adapt, working Friedman into the lineup on a team that is already struggling defensively.

The best teams throughout history have endured hiccups throughout the season and overcome them.  For the Flyers, this is not a time for excuses, but a time for them to show off the depth they believe they have.  No matter how long the various players mentioned will be absent, the team must stick with the Next Man Up mentality as they continue to navigate these uncharted waters.

The regular season is nearly 10% complete; there is no time or wiggle room for the Flyers to fall into a slump in such a competitive division.

In order to cement their position as a top team in the East, Philadelphia must adapt and overcome the bumps in the road they currently face and will continue to face during this unprecedented season.

Featured Image: Connor Bunnaman/JustSports Photography
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