10. Straight. Losses.
The Philadelphia Flyers lost again on Saturday afternoon, extending their losing streak to double digits. Tuesday night’s loss to the Sharks was embarrassing, but somewhat understandable in a back-to-back. Saturday’s effort was inexcusable.
The Flyers were shut out by the Bruins, 3-0, with all three goals coming off of unforced errors. I take a deeper look into those, as well as Dave Hakstol’s insistence on playing the veterans more than the young guys to try to dissect the loss.
Here are five storylines from the Flyers’ 10th-straight loss.
Hakstol’s over-reliance on veterans
Dave Hakstol is playing the offensive (causing someone to feel deeply hurt, upset, or angry) players instead of the offensive (actively aggressive; attacking) players.
If a player makes a mistake, and you want to bench him for that mistake, that’s fine. But keep it the same or at least similar across the board. There shouldn’t be a double standard depending on a player’s experience.
Saturday’s game, and recent games, have been perfect examples of that. Travis Konecny was benched in the third period despite leading the forwards in 5v5 scoring chances through two periods of play. He had four shots on goal and towards the end of the second period the broadcast played a package of how well he was playing in the game. Nolan Patrick was even underplayed in the latter stages of the game, though he was let off the leash a bit in the third period.
Relying on “safe” veterans instead of playing promising young players is one of Dave Hakstol’s main problems. Most coaches do it, but there is no need for coaches to do it. Hakstol was given a chance to coach the Flyers despite having no professional experience. He should be more lenient and understand that players coming into the league are going to make mistakes, and that they need to be thrown back into the fire to learn on the job. Benching someone without a great reason doesn’t make sense.
In the second and third periods it seemed that Valtteri Filppula and Dale Weise were getting double shifted at times for Patrick, Konecny, or Jordan Weal. Patrick only had two shifts early in the third period, but eventually got more as the period moved along. But let’s shift the focus onto Konecny and Weal.
Konecny “didn’t earn ice time” in the third period, so he played just 36 seconds. He played 4:35 in the second period for a total of 5:01 over the final 40 minutes of the game. In those two periods Jori Lehtera played 7:52, Dale Weise played 9:05, and Valtteri Filppula played 10:28. Filppula is probably the least fair comparison due to center vs. wing, but playing Weise for nearly double the amount of time as Konecny in a game where the Flyers are looking for offense is atrocious. Benching Konecny in the third period is inexcusable.
Weal finally got back into the lineup on the second line after being moved to the fourth line and being a healthy scratch, but he didn’t play all that much. He played 2:23 in the second period and 2:06 in the third period for 4:29 in the final two periods. That is three and a half minutes less than Lehtera, and less than half of what Weise and Filppula played. The main sticking point here again is Weise, who has shown nothing this season to warrant playing time.
Patrick, Konecny, and Weal aren’t lighting the world on fire by any means, but we’ve seen flashes from them and they have at least been generating scoring chances. Putting young, speedy forwards on the ice that have a knack to create offense would be ideal in a situation like the one the Flyers are in.
Dave Hakstol was brought in to develop young talent. He needs to do that if he wants to save his job. The veterans may be the “safe” option as they’ve “been they’re before,” but the creative young players with offensive talent are going to be the ones to dig you out of the hole. Let the kids play, and give them the ice time they deserve.
Now, having said that, let’s take a look at a few of the rookie mistakes (and continued veteran mistakes) that plagued the Flyers on Saturday.
Patrick’s poor pass
The Flyers and Bruins were going back and forth in the first period for the most part, with play swinging Boston’s way in the latter half. That swing was sparked by unforced turnovers by the Flyers.
Ryan Spooner’s breakaway goal was the direct result of a poor pass by Nolan Patrick, and the defense getting caught a bit.
Patrick got the puck from Jordan Weal just over the blue line. Weal and Jake Voracek (with Wayne Simmonds in the box) were both streaking down the ice towards the net, hoping for a pass in front, rebound, or just a cycle in deep. However, Patrick elected to drop the puck to Ivan Provorov at the blue line.
In the above shot you can see Weal and Voracek both making their way towards the net, with each of them possibly being able to get past the defenseman. Patrick’s pass to Provorov, who is just entering the frame, is a problem that the Flyers have had a lot recently. Rather than getting the puck in front and in the dirty areas, they are hoping that they can create something off of point shots.
Unfortunately Patrick’s pass was picked off by Spooner, and we all know what happened after that. You can place some blame on Provorov or Andrew MacDonald if you want, but it would mostly be aimed in the wrong direction. Patrick knows he has to be better here.
Rookies are going to make rookie mistakes, and Patrick made one that unfortunately ended up in his own net. We have seen him make passes like this in almost every game, and he usually completes them to create a scoring chance, but this one got picked off and the defense got caught flat-footed for a breakaway goal against.
Hagg’s rare hiccup
Patrick’s poor pass was just one of a few unforced errors that the Flyers made on Saturday afternoon. The next one was made by a usually solid defenseman in Robert Hägg.
With the Bruins up 1-0 midway through the second period, and it feeling worse, Hagg got the puck from Brian Elliott in the corner after a dump in. His defensive partner, Provorov, was behind the net if he wanted to change direction, Wayne Simmonds was on the boards, Nolan Patrick was finding a seam in the forecheck, and Weal was wide on the left side. But Hagg iced the puck.
Hagg had some pressure from the forecheck, but could’ve easily gotten it over to Provorov who wasn’t in danger, or he could’ve flipped the puck higher or softer for Weal to chase down. But he launched it down the right side of the ice for an icing, and the Bruins got their top line on the ice in a favorable matchup.
Patrick actually won the ensuing faceoff against Patrice Bergeron, but Brad Marchand beat Hagg to the puck and tapped it to David Pastrnak, who scored just three seconds after the faceoff. It was a horrible sequence for the rookie defenseman, and those things are going to happen at times. The icing is nearly inexcusable, but getting beat by a pesky forward like Marchand will happen. Provorov also played the faceoff poorly as Marchand got by him.
Two rookie mistakes, two pucks behind Brian Elliott.
Manning continues poor play with puck
While rookies are held accountable for their mistakes, a defenseman that hasn’t been is Brandon Manning. The Flyers are in a pickle right now with Radko Gudas suspended three more games, but the overreliance on Manning has been a problem.
In Tuesday night’s game he made a subtly bad play that led to a goal against, and once again he made a horrible decision with the puck that resulted in a goal. This one was a bit more obvious, though. Like Hagg, Manning took a really lazy icing that led to the third Boston goal.
Manning pretty much one-timed the puck up the ice as the Bruins were changing. There were four Flyers in the zone: Manning, Travis Sanheim, Jori Lehtera, and Scott Laughton. Great! That means there’s a forward up the wing he must be passing to, right?
Well, kind of.
He missed Dale Weise with the pass, or Weise couldn’t get to it, whichever way you want to slice it, and the puck went down for icing. That’s the Flyers fourth line on the ice after a relatively long shift, once again allowing an incredibly favorable matchup for the Bruins’ top line.
Also, let’s point out that even if the pass was right on the money to Weise, he’s still not in great position. At best he is in a one-on-two or three situation, and in all likelihood he dumps the puck in and changes. Manning could’ve held onto the puck, let the forwards change, and not ice it.
Here’s a good look at the full play.
Bergeron won the faceoff this time, and a board battle ensued. The Flyers and Bruins were even at two and then three players each along the wall, then the Flyers outnumbered them four to three. But still, the Bruins won the battle. That’s the difference between a top line and a fourth line. Boston won the battle, Marchand got free in front, and had all the time in the world to beat Elliott.
The Flyers could’ve won the battle, they could’ve tied up Marchand, but Manning iced the puck unnecessarily, then fell down in the defensive zone and the Bruins capitalized.
Three unforced errors, three goals against, and that’s all it took.
The referees were trying to make themselves a factor in Saturday afternoon’s game it seemed. It wasn’t the reason the Flyers lost, or anything close to it, but a goal taken away and a few penalty calls had at least some impact on the game.
Let’s get the goalie interference call out of the way first. Claude Giroux’s shot beat Tuukka Rask clean, with Simmonds providing a screen in front. It looked good on the ice, but after review I understand why they overturned the call.
Simmonds turned and appeared to either make contact or come close enough to making contact to make Rask flinch, which occurred on the edge of the blue paint before the puck crosses the line. There was no conclusive evidence from what I could see, and Simmonds said he didn’t feel his elbow make contact, but I understand the call. Reverse the situation with Marchand in front of Elliott in that spot and we’d all be calling for goalie interference nearly immediately.
I’ve seen less been called goalie interference, and I’ve seen more not been called. It all depends on the situation and it’s a case-by-case basis. It appeared to me that Simmonds impacted Rask’s ability to make the save. Would he have made the save anyway? Maybe not, but that’s not really a factor.
Giroux’s goal would’ve made it 3-1 late in the second period. It could’ve gave the Flyers momentum going into the locker room and into the third period, but it was overturned and the Flyers played uninspired hockey in the final stanza.
A few other calls I disagreed with in the game were Provorov’s hit on Marchand, which appeared to be clean and a result of a larger player hitting a shorter player that was also hunched over, and a non-call on Marchand hitting Gostisbehere up high. Gostisbehere eventually took his frustrations out on Marchand in retaliation, negating the second half of a Flyers’ power play.
Photo by Len Redkoles/Getty Images
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