Simply put, the Philadelphia Flyers have gotten their 2013-14 season off to an atrocious start.
The Orange and Black dropped seven of their first eight games, and didn't manage more than two goals in any contest until their 10th outing.
But signs of encouragement have appeared in the last two weeks, as Philly has posted a 4-3-1 mark over its last eight games. Excluding a 7-0 dismantling at the hands of the Washington Capitals, the Flyers have surrendered just 13 goals over their last seven contests.
Still, they remain in last place in the Metropolitan Division and third-from-last in the Eastern Conference. If Philadelphia is to make a run in the standings, it will have to come with the help of some of its young stars who have yet to fully deliver on their hype.
Brayden Schenn was acquired by Philadelphia in a blockbuster swap with the Los Angeles Kings in June 2011. Schenn, Wayne Simmonds and a second-round pick in the 2012 draft were sent to the City of Brotherly Love in exchange for former Flyers captain Mike Richards.
The exchange was part of a drastic cultural shift for Philly, which moved Richards and fellow former first-round selection Jeff Carter in a span of just 24 hours. Carter had just inked an 11-year, $58 million extension with the Flyers in November 2010, and Richards had signed a 12-year, $69 million extension with the club just three years earlier.
Schenn was the prize of the massive re-tooling, as Philadelphia was able to pry the previously untouchable prospect from the Kings.
The fifth overall selection in the 2009 draft, Schenn entered his NHL career as a bona fide scorer.
In two seasons with the Brandon Wheat Kings before being drafted by the Kings, Schenn produced 60 goals, 99 assists and 159 points in just 136 games. During the 2009-10 campaign, the Saskatoon native recorded a jaw-dropping 34 goals and 99 points in just 59 games.
All signs pointed to that sort of consistent offensive production continuing at the NHL level. But that hasn't been the case for Schenn.
In 126 outings with the Flyers, Schenn has mustered just 23 goals and 54 points.
During his first full NHL campaign in 2011-12, the 6'1", 190-pound forward managed just 12 goals and 18 points in 54 games. Schenn then produced a paltry eight goals and 26 points while playing in all but one game of last year's lockout-shortened 48-game season.
Schenn may be tied for the team lead in scoring this season, but that's a rather dubious distinction on a Flyers squad that has an NHL-worst 26 goals in 16 games.
Schenn is a critical cog to the future plans of the Orange and Black. He needs to begin realizing his full potential if the Flyers are to be counted among the NHL elite.
While Brayden Schenn was added in the exchange that sent Richards to Los Angeles, Sean Couturier was garnered as a result of Philadelphia sending Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
In the swap, the Flyers received Jake Voracek, along with the eighth overall pick in the 2011 NHL draft, which quickly became Couturier.
Like Schenn, Couturier was a scoring machine in junior hockey.
In three seasons with the Drummondville Voltiguers of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the Phoenix native registered 86 goals, 137 assists and 223 points in 184 games. He managed back-to-back 96-point campaigns in his final two seasons there and earned both the Michel Briere Trophy, as the QMJHL's most valuable player, and the Michael Bossy Trophy, as the league's top professional prospect during his final junior season.
But that level of scoring hasn't continued at the NHL level.
Couturier got off to a nice start in his rookie campaign with 13 goals and 27 points in 77 games, but managed a paltry four goals and 15 points in 46 games a season ago. That included a stretch of 15 games—from Feb. 21 to March 28—where he didn't manage a single point.
This season, the 6'4", 190-pound forward has tallied just three points in 16 games. Still in search of his first goal of the season, Couturier has managed just one point in his last 11 outings.
At just 20 years old, Couturier is still incredibly young, but he needs to begin producing again if he's to remain part of Philadelphia's future.
Luke Schenn was originally plucked by Toronto with the fifth overall pick in the 2008 NHL draft, but came to Philadelphia in a one-for-one swap in June 2012 that sent James van Riemsdyk to the Maple Leafs.
Schenn was a defensive beast with the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League before advancing to the professional ranks.
In three seasons in Kelowna, the Saskatoon native recorded 12 goals, 56 assists and 68 points in 189 games while developing into a high-end shutdown defender. In fact, entering the draft, Schenn projected to be a can't-miss, top-pair blueliner.
Unfortunately, the 6'2", 230-pound defenseman has battled consistency issues since joining the NHL. Schenn has struggled mightily, particularly in the City of Brotherly Love.
In 60 games since joining the Orange and Black, Schenn has managed just four goals, eight assists and 12 points. This season, the former fifth overall pick has produced one goal in 13 outings while compiling a minus-seven rating. Even worse, Schenn has been a healthy scratch in three of Philadelphia's last four games.
Meanwhile, van Riemsdyk has compiled 25 goals and 45 points in 63 games since joining the Leafs.
Schenn will never put up the kind of points van Riemsdyk will, but he needs to establish himself as a genuine shutdown NHL defender or the exchange of a year ago will end up being a royal bust for the Flyers.