CHICAGO - The Flyers are expected to struggle offensively and have solid goaltending in their 50th anniversary season.
So naturally they are scoring goals in bunches - 3.7 per game, tied for ninth in the NHL entering Wednesday - and among the league's worst defensive teams (4.3 goals allowed per game, 28th) after their first three games.
The sample size is small, of course, and the goaltending and defense figure to get much better.
As for the offense, it is about to get a major upgrade: Left winger Brayden Schenn, the team's second-leading scorer with 26 goals last season, is ready to join the lineup Thursday as the Flyers (1-1-1) host slow-starting Anaheim (0-3-1) in their home opener.
Schenn was suspended for the first three games because of a hit on Washington's T.J. Oshie in last season's playoffs.
To start this season, he sat in the press box and watched the Flyers defeat his former team, Los Angeles, 4-2; lose to his brother Luke's Arizona team, 4-3, in overtime; and drop a wild 7-4 decision in Chicago.
He has been participating in practices and doing draining "bag skates," basically wind sprints on ice.
"It's never fun to be out of the lineup. You always want to be out there, trying to help your team," Schenn said Tuesday before the loss to the Blackhawks. "I've been doing all I can to stay in game shape, stay ready. I'm looking forward to Thursday."
Schenn has been doing extra work with the coaches, including Ian Laperriere, to stay sharp.
"It's not fun doing the extra bag skates and stuff, but it'll be worth it when you're back," he said.
The 25-year-old Saskatoon native will rejoin center Claude Giroux and right winger Wayne Simmonds on the top line. The timing of his return is perfect because Michael Raffl, who had been in Schenn's spot, will miss 10 to 14 days with an injury suffered Tuesday when he was checked into the boards.
"We had a lot of chemistry when we were together last year, and I think in the second half, Schenner was one of our best players," Giroux said. "Obviously, we're excited to have him back."
Schenn, who had 14 goals and 33 points in his 35 games after the all-star break last season, was asked if he would be behind the other players because he has not seen any game action.
"It might take a period or so, but hopefully not," he said. "The wind will be there, the legs will be there. I've been skating a lot and it's just getting the timing down and getting the chemistry back."
Schenn is excited to return for the home opener, one in which the Flyers will have festivities to honor their 50th anniversary.
Without Schenn, his teammates picked up the scoring slack. Matt Read and Sean Couturier lead the team with three goals apiece, and Travis Konecny and Giroux have four assists apiece while Jake Voracek and defenseman Brandon Manning have three.
But they need to tighten things up down the other end.
"We know we can score goals; now it's time to lock it down," Simmonds said. "We have to make sure we keep it out of the back of our net."
Entering Wednesday, Konecny's four assists led NHL rookies. . . . In Tuesday's loss, the Flyers erased a four-goal deficit for the first time since they dropped a 9-8 decision to Winnipeg in 2011, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. That's the game when colorful Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov apologized to his teammates and fans, saying he had "zero confidence" and was "lost in the woods."