The Philadelphia Flyers have won a hockey game! The Flyers have been hard on their luck recently, but they finally got the bounces in a thrilling 2-1 overtime win. They even scored both of their goals at even strength (5v5 then 3v3)!
Ivan Provorov and Wayne Simmonds were the goalscorers for the orange and black, while Michal Neuvirth backstopped them to victory.
Dave Hakstol threw the lines into a blender after another disappointing loss on Thursday night as all four lines saw changes. He made great use of his newest forward, Jordan Weal, placing him as the second line left wing with Sean Couturier and Jake Voracek. The trio had a dominant game.
Claude Giroux also got two new wingers alongside him, but they were familiar faces. Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds joined Giroux on the top line, reuniting the line that helped the Flyers’ second half surge last season.
The bottom-six got a shakeup as well. The third line is now a strong checking trio with Michael Raffl, Nick Cousins and Matt Read all in their ideal roles as third line forwards. Last, and least, The Untouchables got a new winger as Dale Weise replaced Roman Lyubimov in the lineup.
Hakstol put a good lineup together, and also made a great call to challenge a Sharks goal in the first period. Chris VandeVelde had the puck go in off his stick on the penalty kill, but Kevin Labanc interfered with Neuvirth as he tried to get across the crease.
The Flyers continued their consistent strong defensive play that they’ve gotten used to of late, but also added some offensive pressure to go along with that. There were times throughout the game that they were playing well in all three zones; executing breakouts and getting through the neutral zone to eventually get a cycle going.
The top three lines all generated great chances in the game, with the second line’s hard work paying off for the 5-on-5 goal.
The teams traded power play chances early in the game before the Flyers took over the period. In a similar fashion to Thursday night, the Flyers dominated the first period to the tune of 14-4 shots on goal (10-4 at 5v5) and 19-2 scoring chances (14-2 at 5v5). But also similarly to Thursday night, the Flyers couldn’t score at even strength or at all in the first period.
The Sharks pushed back hard in the second period, and Michal Neuvirth had to come up with a few big saves to keep the game scoreless. The Flyers didn’t really have too many scoring chances or any sustained pressure in the period, but they kept the Sharks at bay to go into the final stanza with a 0-0 score.
The third period had a little of each of the first two periods in it. The Flyers dominated for short stretches, but then the Sharks immediately pushed back. Couturier’s line created great sustained pressure that led to the opening goal for the orange and black, but then the Sharks scored on a power play to tie it.
The teams didn’t play too aggressively late in the third period as they seemed content with at least getting a point, and it turned out to be a positive thing for the Flyers. Brent Burns fumbled the puck as he moved up the ice in overtime, and Simmonds was right there to pounce on it for the breakaway. The rest is history.
- Much like the Flyers, the top line had spurts of greatness and times when they weren’t too noticeable on the ice. Fortunately the greatness far outweighed everything as Wayne Simmonds’ overtime goal, as well as his fantastic move around Brent Burns early in the game, were the highlights of the day.
- Claude Giroux can’t do it all as a center, so he’s going to need his wingers to step up. Simmonds did that on Saturday, but Schenn left much to be desired.
- No, that’s not a typo. The second line finished with upwards of 85% corsi for; Weal and Couturier were 18-2, while Voracek was 18-3 in shot attempts. They dominated in every category: 15-2 unblocked shot attempts (fenwick), 9-1 shots on goal, 11-1 scoring chances, 6-1 high danger chances, 1-0 goals.
- You may look at their offensive zone starts and think that it was an easy game in terms of deployment, but their usage and matchups were as tough as you can get. Then didn’t have any defensive zone starts, but they started four of their seven shifts in the neutral zone and they were playing against the Sharks top guys.
- Couturier and company were tasked with taking on the top line of the Sharks, and they dominated. The top line got just two shot attempts against Couturier in over seven minutes, while the Flyers had 12 shot attempts during those minutes. Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Melker Karlsson, Brent Burns and Paul Martin were the most often adversaries for the second line, and the Couturier line took them to school.
- The three members of the third line each bring a solid skillset to a checking line. They’ve all been playing in the top-six recently, but ideally they’re all perfectly suited for a third line. Michael Raffl is great in one-on-one battles in the corner and cycling, Nick Cousins is a two-way pest and Matt Read is the team’s best play-driving forward this season.
- The line generated their best pressure of the game in the first period when they had a few cracks at the net on one shift. They were the worst possession line for the game, but don’t expect that to happen very often with this group.
- The decision to scratch Roman Lyubimov instead of Chris VandeVelde is a puzzling one. Lyubimov is better in every facet of the game yet Hakstol continues to ride VandeVelde and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. Dale Weise is an ideal fit on the fourth line, but with Bellemare and Lyubimov not Bellemare and VandeVelde.
- The good thing is that Hakstol realized his top three lines were getting the job done and used the fourth line sparingly. They hardly had any ice time through the first period and ended with less than eight minutes in the game.
- It was a solid game by the defense as they limited the Blues to a season-low 16 shots, including just one in the first period.
- Andrew MacDonald has had a pretty okay week. He was good (by his standards) against St. Louis, decent on Thursday, and then good again on Saturday. He of course had the assist on Provorov’s goal as MacDonald’s shot rang off iron before bouncing to Provorov who sniped it for the goal.
- Speaking of Ivan Provorov, he had another great game on Saturday. He got his first goal in quite some time as the only 5v5 goal of the game and played well defensively too.
- The Brandon Manning – Radko Gudas pairing has been holding their own recently. Manning’s struggles are evident at times, but on this team they have been a solid second pair.
- The Flyers’ sheltered pairing had a good game against San Jose. Shayne Gostisbehere and Mark Streit each played well offensively while not being too much of a liability in their own end.
- Gostisbehere had a few turnovers which of course get pointed out, but he also made so many subtle plays to help create offense and those should overshadow the minor errors. In fact, Gostisbehere looks more confident after returning from his stint as a healthy scratch. He fired 10 shot attempts himself in the game: four on goal, four that were blocked and two that missed the net.
The Flyers of course had some of their attack come from the point, but they really got to the dirty areas in front of Aaron Dell. Each of the top three lines had memorable chances in close: Simmonds’ goal and Dell’s robbery, Couturier’s multiple chances, and Cousins’ chance.
The Flyers have been coming out hot to star games recently but they’ve fizzled after being held off the scoreboard in the first stanza. That rang true again on Saturday but luckily they still were able to hold San Jose off the board for the most part as well in the 2-1 win.
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.