Different day, similar outcome for the Philadelphia Flyers.
After finally getting a win on Sunday night, the Flyers once again fell back to their old ways of creating chances but not getting the bounces in a 4-1 loss to the Capitals.
The Flyers had one goal overturned for “goalie interference,” another one where it appeared to go in but hit the crossbar and had plenty of other great chances that didn’t go in the loss. Another game, another frustrating loss. It’s getting old at this point.
The Flyers won Sunday, so Dave Hakstol kept the winning lineup together, right? Wrong. Andrew MacDonald was back in the lineup and on the top pair with Ivan Provorov as Michael Del Zotto returned to the press box. Del Zotto didn’t play particularly well on Sunday, but you’d like to give him more of a look especially since he’s potential trade bait.
Jordan Weal practiced but was ruled out of the lineup, so the forward lines remained the same. However, the usage didn’t. The fourth line got much more than their fair share of ice time while the third line was relegated to the least amount of ice time. The third line is made up of three players that, while they are still bottom-six players, are miles ahead of the fourth liners. The usage is baffling at times.
The Flyers got off to a very strong start against Washington. They even scored a goal in the first few moments! However, it was called off due to goalie interference when Dale Weise braced himself on Braden Holtby’s shoulder. It was a questionable call, at best, since it came after review and not live on the ice. The momentum swing from that, as well as a lack of scoring in the first period despite great chances, drastically changed the game.
There was no doubt that the Flyers were the better team early on, but the Capitals went up 2-0 early thanks to a goal off a turnover and another snipe on the power play. The Flyers got one back of their own, a rare 5v5 goal from Schenn, but that would be all she wrote for the orange and black despite some strong pushes.
The third period was rather uneventful, with the Capitals eventually putting the game away after a failed power play by the Flyers.
- Primarly using the top two lines is ideal, but using the fourth line more than the third line is uncalled for.
- The first line was one of the lone bright spots in the loss to Washington. Brayden Schenn, Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds were the only three players to generate a goal while not allowing any. They had solid pressure throughout the evening and were playing with high intensity. Schenn got the goal, but it was a great night all around for the top trio. They generated a team-high 12 scoring chances (four high-danger) in their 16+ minutes of icetime.
- It looked like Giroux took it up a notch against the Capitals. He was playing physically, making good transition plays, and setting up teammates for scoring chances. One play in particular that showcased his effort came in the first period when he body checked the puck away from a man, spun and sent Simmonds & Schenn in on a two-on-one chance. They couldn’t convert of course, but it was a great setup by Giroux.
- Schenn finally scored a 5v5 goal again, his third of the season. He has five even strength goals now, with one of them coming in overtime (3v3) and one of them coming with the goalie pulled (6v5). It’s amazing that he can score so many goals on the power play and yet look so lost at times on the ice.
- It’s hard to say that a line “shutdown” a trio that scored two goals, but Sean Couturier and company did their part in keeping Alex Ovechkin’s line off the scoreboard. Backstom and Oshie each scored goals, but the first one was largely due to bad play by the defensive pairing, and the second one was once again on the defensemen and maybe Dale Weise a bit. Weise shouldn’t be playing on the second line anyway.
- The line created a fantastic scoring chance that looked like a goal. Weise picked up a stretch pass and dropped it to Jake Voracek who found a streaking Provorov for a great shot. Unfortunately the puck hit off the cross bar, not the back bar, and it was not a good goal.
- The Flyers have run into bad luck recently, but one man in particular had a tough luck night. Jake Voracek was on the ice for all three even strength goals against, which is rough. He helped created great scoring chances on the other end but they just didn’t go. He was also the one that scored the goal in the opening minute that was overtuned. Just tough luck all around for Jake.
- The third line didn’t create many memorable chances, but that could partly be due to their limited usage. They were the least used line by Dave Hakstol against Washington. The line that has been a consistent checking, cycling group was stapled to the bench for stretches throughout the 4-1 loss.
- The fourth line getting more icetime than necessary absolutely should not happen. Michael Raffl played the least amount of ice time for the Flyers on Wednesday night. Raffl is one of the Flyers’ best play-drivers at 5v5. While he may be in a goal drought, he offers a lot more than every member of the fourth line. As do Cousins and Read, who both saw less ice time than the fourth liners at 5v5.
- Andrew MacDonald might need some more rest. While none of the goals against were his fault, that is simply due to Michal Neuvirth bailing him out multiple times. There were a few straight shifts in the first period where MacDonald either got skated around, turned the puck over, or failed to tie up a man in front of the net. Neuvirth had to come up with some big (unnecessary) saves early to keep his team in it.
- On the other hand, we have the golden boy Ivan Provorov. Provorov once again carried around MacDonald like an anchor while playing great defense himself. He was rubbing out people along the boards, breaking up odd-man rushes (caused by MacDonald), and nearly had himself a goal.
- The numbers are deceiving for the second pair. They were perhaps the worst pair on the ice on Wednesday night, as Brandon Manning was nearly-directly responsible for two goals against. His failed clear, and failure to win a puck battle along the wall led to Backstrom’s opening snipe, and then on their fourth goal he got skated around by Ovechking and failed to do anything in front of the crease as Oshie came in to tap it home.
- Radko Gudas didn’t do him any favors either as he was out of position on the fourth goal, and was screening Neuvirth as the puck went through Radko’s legs to open the scoring.
- The sheltered pair got plenty of usage in the third period while trying to mount a comeback, but neither Mark Streit or Shayne Gostisbehere were able to help. Gostisbehere played over 20 minutes following his first career three-point night, which is a great sign, and Streit didn’t look any worse for wear in his 19 minutes of ice time as potential trade bait.
The Flyers went back-and-forth with the Capitals all game in shot attempts, but Washington simply had better scoring chances and got the bounces. The Flyers still had too many point shots, especially early on, before eventually getting a deflection goal (on a point shot, of course).
An exciting first and second were followed by a dull, score effect third period.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick
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Sons of Penn Radio (January 23rd)
On this week of SOP Radio, we celebrate a thrilling overtime victory, discuss Dave Hakstol’s coaching decisions, and forecast potential trade opportunities and prospect development.