The Philadelphia Flyers put together a great effort to defeat the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday afternoon. Claude Giroux and Andrew MacDonald scored for the Flyers, while Petr Mrazek made 27 saves on 28 shots to get the victory.
Here are five storylines from the Flyers’ 2-1 win against the Jets.
A full sixty-minute team effort
Despite only winning by one goal, the Flyers put together one of their best efforts in a while to get the win against the Jets. All 12 forwards and six defensemen played to their potential or above, and they stayed at that level for almost all of the 60 minutes. Yes, there were a few shaky moments here or there, but for the most part the Flyers played well to get the win.
The Flyers started out well against the Jets, jumping out to a 12-5 shot attempt advantage in the first half of the 1st. They couldn’t get anything going on their power play, which seemed to negatively affect their momentum, but they kept the Jets to the outside enough and when they did get chances, Mrazek had the answer.
Unlike previous games where the Flyers would play decently enough in the first period and give up a late goal, they remained scoreless after one period. They could’ve conceded a goal at some points, but the luck didn’t go against them this time and they headed into the locker room scoreless.
The second period saw the Flyers turn on the jets. Once again they couldn’t do much on a power play, but it didn’t slow them down. Claude Giroux scored a few minutes later on a delayed call after a good cycle by the third line to open the scoring. It was a good showing of patience by Valtteri Filppula, and then by Giroux who picked his corner with Wayne Simmonds providing a great screen in front. Simmonds deserved an assist for his screen, and actually picked up the secondary assist anyway.
It didn’t take them long to strike again. The second line was buzzing in the offensive zone all game long, and they finally produced a goal in the second period. Sanheim kept the puck in at the blue line to start the cycle, and his defensive partner, MacDonald, ended it with a goal after good plays by Lindblom, Voracek, and Patrick. It took a review to confirm the goal, but MacDonald did indeed put the puck over the goal line.
The Jets pushed back after that, but Mrazek shut them down to take the 2-0 lead into the locker room.
The Flyers then played a great third period with a lead. They didn’t sit back conservatively, but rather got pucks in deep and grinded out shifts. I don’t think that’s necessarily a change in plan, but moreso an increase in execution.
Patrik Laine made it a one-goal game with a power-play goal off Konecny’s bad penalty in the neutral zone. But that was all they could get.
All four lines, minus Konecny who was benched for Voracek after his penalty, had good shifts late in the third period to close out the win. Jori Lehtera was one of the under-the-radar guys to step up, as he killed off plenty of time with a few strong shifts in the offensive zone.
The Flyers took a step in the right direction on Thursday night despite the outcome, and they continued that on Saturday afternoon. They put together a great team effort, made very few mistakes, aggressively killed penalties, and got great goaltending to close it out. It was also a good showing for Hakstol, who tinkered with the matchups in-game depending on the situation.
Hakstol’s line matching plays in Flyers’ favor
After a few games of questionable line matching that turned out to burn the Flyers, Dave Hakstol played his cards right against the Jets. Winnipeg is a deep team with three good lines when healthy, but the Flyers caught a bit of a break with Mark Scheifele being injured. That gives the Jets two great top lines, but an average third line. Hakstol played the matchups beautifully.
Paul Stastny, the Jets’ first-line center with Nikolaj Ehlers and Patrik Laine, played 14:55 at 5v5. Most of that was against the Flyers’ top defensemen (10:34 vs. Gostisbehere) and forwards (8:36 vs. Couturier). Stastny also saw time against Filppula (4:55), but most of that came in the first two periods while the Flyers were looking for more offense.
Matching up Filppula against Stastny wasn’t too bad for the Flyers. Stastny had a 54.55 CF% (6-5 shot attempts) against Couturier, and a 66.67 CF% (8-4) against Filppula. That allowed Couturier and company to see time against some of the Jets’ bottom-six guys. Couturier played 8:36 against Stastny (45.45 CF%), and 3:19 against Copp (66.67 CF%).
That time shifted around a bit once the Flyers got a lead. It may have been coincidental, but in theory it limits the Jets’ firepower by playing a shutdown center like Couturier and Giroux against them, while relying on the bottom-six to take care of the Jets’ bottom-six. All four lines played their role to near perfection in the game.
Filppula’s line was the only forward line with a corsi for under 50% at 41%. They limited the Jets well enough, allowing the other three lines to generate offense. The fourth line had a corsi for near 70%, the top line hovered around 60%, and the second line was around 55%.
Patrick and his linemates also did an admirable job against the Jets’ second line of Kyle Connor, Bryan Little, and Blake Wheeler. They fought punch for punch against them and generated the MacDonald goal.
Filppula still isn’t an ideal shutdown center, but giving him wingers like Simmonds and Raffl certainly helps. All four lines played their roles on Saturday afternoon and it resulted in a win against one of the best teams in the league.
Mrazek bounces back to shut down Jets
Mrazek’s first few weeks with the Flyers were a rollercoaster. He was 3-0-0 with 72 saves on 76 shots (.947 SV%) and a shutout in his first three starts, but was 0-3-1 with an .854 SV% in his next four starts. He got a breather on Thursday night in Boston, and those two days of rest paid off for him.
Mrazek stopped 26 of 27 shots he faced, with the lone goal being a one-time blast from Laine that was near-impossible to stop. Mrazek stopped all six high-danger shots he faced, six of seven medium-danger shots, and all 15 low-danger shots, according to corsica.hockey’s tracking.
It was a rough stretch for Mrazek during the Flyers’ losing streak, but he put a new mask on his shoulders and turned the page. Mrazek was the goalie that we saw in his first few starts with the Flyers, and if he plays like that the team could do some damage down the road and in the playoffs.
Giroux comes up clutch
During the Flyers’ winning streak it seemed that Claude Giroux would always find a way to make a difference. Whether it be the breakaway goal in Ottawa, the goal off a turnover against Columbus, or various other plays, he got the job done. He did that again against the Jets.
While it wasn’t a high-leverage situation in the third period or anything, Giroux opened the scoring for the Flyers on a delayed call. The Flyers had failed to score on their first two power plays, and were unable to generate many chances at all, but he hopped on the ice during a delayed call and went to work.
Giroux collected Filppula’s tipped cross-ice pass, waited three seconds in the circle, then stepped up and fired a shot on the far side of Connor Hellebuyck. He was looking pass the whole way, but with Michael Raffl, Brandon Manning, and Wayne Simmonds lined up in the slot, he patiently found a shooting lane and beat Hellebuyck through the screen.
Giroux opened the scoring for the Flyers and played solid two-way hockey the whole game. He had a corsi for over 50% against the Jets’ top pair and line in over seven minutes against them. He limited the top line to zero shots on goal in nearly eight minutes of action.
The Captain now has 81 points on the season. He is riding a six-game point streak, has points in 10 of 11, and points in 14 of 16. He has 23 points (9 goals, 14 assists) in his last 16 games.
Sanheim shows he belongs
Travis Sanheim was called up due to an injury to Robert Hägg after spending nearly two months in the AHL, and he came back with a vengeance. He made great plays from the get go, only had one or two bad shifts, and those shifts weren’t even particularly that bad.
Sanheim was sent down to mature, get his confidence back, and refine his game, and it looks like he did just that. Well, at least through one game back with the Flyers.
I’ll get more into it in a later piece, but Sanheim was arguably the Flyers’ best defenseman in their win against the Jets. He made plays in all three zones and even made a play to directly create a goal.
Sanheim made a nice play at the blue line to keep the puck in the zone prior to MacDonald’s goal. Off the faceoff he calmly kicked the puck to his stick with Blake Wheeler bearing down on him. He then got the puck in deep and stayed in the cycle on the goal.
He showed off his offensive upside with a great stretch pass and good pinches in the offensive zone, but his defensive game was improved as well. He did the little things right to step up and disrupt some plays in the neutral zone, which keep the Jets out of the offensive zone and keep the Flyers on the attack.
Sanheim played 5:58 in the first period, which was definitely his best stanza, then 3:12 in the second period and 3:34 in the third period. The two latter totals were mostly due to special teams play jumbling things up, and Sanheim being the odd man out.
Sanheim should get a good two-week look here with Hagg out, and the Flyers play six more games during that span. If he keeps this up he could earn himself a spot on the roster for the stretch run and the playoffs.
Photo by Fourth String/Sons of Penn
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