Capitals goalie Philipp Grubauer reacts after allowing one of the Flyers’ eight goals in Philadelphia on Saturday night. (Eric Hartline/USA Today Sports)

Madison Bowey's first welcome-to-the-NHL moment was the solo skate in warmups, when the Washington Capitals followed a tradition of having the rookie come out of the tunnel first to take a twirl around the ice alone before his first game. The second introduction to the big leagues came in the second period, when Philadelphia's Jakub Voracek deked around Bowey, who lost his stick as Voracek set up a goal by Wayne Simmonds.

The Capitals' 8-2 loss to the Flyers on Saturday night highlighted that the Capitals as a whole may require an exercise in patience. The team is forced to lean on inexperienced defensemen learning on the job with its blue line depleted, and rookie mistakes are understandable and expected. The forwards have had some issues with puck management through six games, and Saturday's game was Washington's worst showing in that area.

It’s one game in a long season — far from dire, but ugly nonetheless. It reinforced that the Capitals have more flaws than in years past when they were regular season titans, and it’ll take time to work through some of these deficiencies.

Goaltender Philipp Grubauer was peppered with 37 shots. The last time the Capitals allowed eight goals in regulation was on Jan. 25, 2006. Saturday night’s game in Philadelphia was an early-season test for the Capitals. While the Flyers were fresh and energized to play their home opener, Washington was playing its second game in two nights in the first back-to-back set of the season.

The turnovers increased in the second half of the game, just as players got tired, and it was a recipe for disaster.

“We were absolutely stupid with the puck,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “We deserved every ounce of that.”

This was also the team’s first game without top defenseman Matt Niskanen, who injured his left hand in New Jersey on Friday, and the Capitals’ blue line included rookies Christian Djoos and Bowey. Voracek burned Bowey on a power play 3:15 into the second period, with Simmonds’s goal lifting the Flyers to a 3-1 lead. They cruised from there, and Bowey was also on the ice for the Flyers’ fourth goal of the game, a redirected shot in front by Claude Giroux.

“It’s just something I can build off from here,” Bowey said. “It’s the first game of my career in the NHL, so obviously it’s uphill from here for sure and a lot to build on.”

Said Trotz: “That was a tough one. I won’t say anything until I look at it. That was a tough one. We might just junk this game, I don’t know.”

Bowey was far from the only player to struggle. Trotz was critical of Evgeny Kuznetsov’s line — “Giroux’s line just ate up Kuznetsov’s line,” Trotz said. Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin both finished with a minus-four rating.

Dmitry Orlov typically skates with Niskanen on a top pairing, but he seemed to skate most with Aaron Ness against the Flyers. With less than three minutes left in the second period, Simmonds got around Orlov at the half wall, feeding Jordan Weal at the side of the net. Ness slid in front of Weal to cut off his pass, but Weal maneuvered around Ness to set up Valtteri Filppula’s goal from the slot. That gave Philadelphia a 5-2 lead at second intermission.

Washington’s top defensemen were carrying a heavy workload even before Niskanen’s injury. The offseason departures of Karl Alzner, Nate Schmidt and Kevin Shattenkirk hurt their depth. With the third pairing lacking experience, the Capitals have leaned on their top four more, mixing the defense duos within games to typically have at least one veteran on the ice at all times. Entering Saturday night’s game, John Carlson had been especially taxed, skating an average of 26:11 per night, nearly two minutes more than his previous career high.

With Niskanen ineligible to return until at least Nov. 7, Trotz said Carlson’s minutes likely won’t be coming down anytime soon. “That’s also the next level for John, too, if he wants to be an elite defenseman in the league,” Trotz said before the game. “A lot of those guys carry those minutes and more, and they can carry them very consistently.”

Like the Capitals as a whole, Carlson struggled against the Flyers. He was on the ice for Philadelphia’s first goal, when Sean Couturier punched in his own rebound. On the Flyers’ second goal, Carlson’s pass during a Washington power play was picked off by Scott Laughton, who raced toward Grubauer on a breakaway. Grubauer came all the way out of his net, diving and swinging his stick to swat the puck away from Laughton. But while Grubauer got a piece of the puck, Laughton was able to regain possession before scoring into an open net.

Carlson was also called for two slashing minors, the second of which led to the power play where Simmonds scored Philadelphia’s third goal. The Flyers were able to roll from there.

“We’ve got a bunch of young guys, and [Bowey’s] first game, and I just thought I could’ve done a lot better myself and lead the way a lot more,” Carlson said. “You know, he’s resilient and he’s got all of the tools to do it. I would’ve liked to play a little bit better and make him feel a lot more comfortable. But we’ll get back to work.”