The Philadelphia Flyers welcomed the Calgary Flames to the Wells Fargo Center for a Saturday matinee. It was a rude awakening for the Flames, as the Flyers jumped out to an early 1-0 lead, and then a 3-1 lead.
Point shots finally found twine for the Flyers as they got the bounces early on, and even did late with the Flames hitting the post twice in the 3rd period. However, a hodgepodge of a middle stanza ruined things for the Flyers.
Here are five storylines and a few final thoughts from the Flyers’ overtime loss to the Flames.
Another blown lead
The Flyers blew a two-goal lead once again on Saturday. Like Thursday, they got out to a two-goal lead in the 1st period thanks to goals from Brandon Manning, Sean Couturier, and Ivan Provorov to go up 3-1, but it wouldn’t last.
The Flyers were the better team at even strength in the 2nd period, as they scored at 5v5 play, but three goals on the man-advantage by Sean Monahan tied the game up at 4 after two periods of play. It’s tough to watch a team blow a two-goal lead, let alone two in as many games. They kept pushing hard, but it wasn’t enough as they could only muster one goal after the first 20 minutes of play.
There’s not one person you can single out to blame, but rather it’s just a team issue. On one hand a 1st period lead gives the opposition plenty of time to come back and score, but on the other hand they need to keep momentum going and try to build on their lead.
Depth forwards stepping up
For the first game in a while, besides the shutouts, the top line didn’t score a goal at even strength. Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek were on the ice to help set up Patrick’s, and Sean Couturier scored on the power play, but there wasn’t a goal scored with all three on the ice at 5v5. They weren’t really producing many chances either, as the top line was the worst in terms of shot attempt differential. Voracek (40%), Couturier (40.74%), and Giroux (44.44%) had the three lowest corsi for percentages for the Flyers.
While Nolan Patrick was the only depth forward to score a goal, the bottom-nine forwards did generate plenty of chances. In fact, the third and fourth lines generated goals – for defensemen.
The fourth line got a new member, as Jori Lehtera joined Scott Laughton and Taylor Leier. It was a great game for the fourth line. They won the faceoff that led to Ivan Provorov’s goal, and were easily the best line in terms of shot attempt differential. They had corsi fors of 91.67% (Leier), 78.57% (Laughton), and 71.43% (Lehtera). They had multiple successful cycles that created sustained zone time and pressure.
The new third line, with Michael Raffl joining Valtteri Filppula and Travis Konecny, also generated a goal. Raffl and Filppula got in on the forecheck, leading to a Brandon Manning point shot that banked in to open the scoring. They were right up there in corsi for percentage as well, with Raffl having a hell of a game as he showed why he deserves more playing time.
Patrick’s return to form
Nolan Patrick made his return on Thursday night, but he really returned on Saturday afternoon.
After playing just 7:58 on Thursday, Patrick played 13:52 as the second-line center on Saturday. The second and third lines were mostly interchangeable, but it was the second line in warmups.
Patrick needed a game to get back to form, but he looked to be back in rhythm against the Flames. Even with Dale Weise on his line he was able to create multiple scoring chances, and even got a goal. It came on a shift with Voracek and Giroux, but it was still a pretty nice goal.
Early in the game he showed off his solid two-way game with a good defensive play behind the net, then later in the game he turned it on offensively. He scored in the 2nd period, and nearly added a second goal later in the 3rd.
It’s tough to rely on a 19-year old to change your team’s fortune, but Patrick can help change the vibe a bit. He brings a lot of youth and skill to the lineup, which is an aspect that the Flyers need.
Inconsistent officiating leads to undisciplined play
Referees are like defensemen: when you hear their name a lot, it’s usually not a good thing. Tim Peel’s name was thrown around a lot on Saturday afternoon, and for good reason. The officiating was inconsistent at best between the Flyers and Flames.
The Flyers got a few early power-play chances, but things really turned in the 2nd period. Claude Giroux got boarded, which went uncalled, while the Flyers were called for a few penalties.
Shayne Gostisbehere was initially called for unsportsmanlike conduct, which was changed to a team bench minor, as there were multiple players and coaches yapping at the referees. Outside of that, they weren’t necessarily bad calls, but some were bad penalties taken out of frustration.
The officiating has been a storyline more often than it should be so far this season, and it shouldn’t be that way. It’s not really blaming the referees, but rather being frustrated with the penalties that are or aren’t called. There were two boarding plays (on Giroux, then on Konecny) that went uncalled, while the Flyers were called for a ticky tack hook in the 3rd period.
When it comes down to it the Flyers just need to be more disciplined, and they know it. That was one of the main focuses in the postgame quotes as Gostisbehere admitted he lost his cool, and a few other players touched on it as well. The referees are never an excuse, but they may have spurred some of the undisciplined play on Saturday afternoon.
Special teams swing
The referees aren’t to blame, because the penalty killers are. The penalty kill was on a great stretch prior to the Calgary game, but they cost the Flyers on Saturday afternoon.
The Flames went three-for-five on the power play, with Sean Monahan scoring all three goals in the 2nd period. The penalty kill has been a problem for the past few years, and it seems to be creeping up a bit again. Monahan scored on a deflection in front that he wasn’t really challenged on, a rebound in the slot, and then a one-timer from the slot.
The Flyers have one of the worst save percentages in the league on the penalty kill over the past few years. We thought that it was maybe Steve Mason’s fault last season, and he wasn’t great at going side-to-side, but the problem is persisting with Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth still.
While the Flames’ power play was converting, the Flyers’ was not. They scored on their first chance, but their second was negated by a bad penalty by Dale Weise (who shouldn’t be on the power play, or roster, in the first place), and the third late in regulation resulted in nothing.
The Flyers were the better team at even strength, out-attempting the Flames 52-41, including 40-21 in the 2nd and 3rd periods, and outscored them 3-1 at 5v5, but special teams was the difference.
- The Flyers are on a four-game losing streak, but it could be worse. They have gotten points in both of the past two games, and sit at 20 points in 20 games on the season. This young, growing team will improve as the season goes on. They just need to stay afloat for now.
- Firing Hakstol isn’t the answer. Bringing up an AHL forward isn’t the answer. This team will start playing better and string a few wins together.
The Flyers will return to action on Tuesday night against the Vancouver Canucks.
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