The Philadelphia Flyers are playing for pride as this point, but they are still putting together strong games and had another one on Tuesday night. A 3-2 shootout win showcased some great play from two of the Flyers’ future pieces that are due for contracts this offseason. Both Shayne Gostisbehere and Jordan Weal continued their strong months with fantastic games against the Senators.
Gostisbehere, a restricted free agent, will no doubt be a part of the Flyers’ future plans. However, Weal is a unrestricted free agent and eligible to be selected by Vegas in the expansion draft. He is proving himself in these final weeks and the Flyers would be smart to lock him up and protect him for next season.
It was a bit of a high-paced first period, but there wasn’t exactly much action to it. Each team had a few chances here and there in transition, but it was rare for a team to get camped out in the offensive zone for any extended period of time. Things calmed down a bit later in the period due to penalties, and the two teams each scored a power play goal to knot things up after one.
The second period was similar to the first, but you also saw some sustained pressure in there. The Flyers and Senators each had strong pushes, but neither team was able to find the back of the net.
It wasn’t until the third period that the goal light turned on again. After the Flyers had some great pressure in the offensive zone, the Senators skated down the ice and scored rather easily. Two Flyers defensemen fell to the ice to leave a wide open man in the slot for the goal. Fortunately for the Flyers, however, they got it right back off of a bad turnover by Craig Anderson, but a nice play by Jordan Weal.
The teams slowed down for the rest of regulation, but each team had a a few great scoring chances in 3-on-3 with the game leaning the Flyers’ way. It kept leaning that way in in the shootout as Jordan Weal scored the lone goal and Steve Mason stopped all three Senators en route to the 3-2 victory.
- It’s frustrating to still see Travis Konecny on the fourth line. However, it was a refreshing change to see him moved up in the lineup in the third period. He got a shift on the second line, and then a handful of shifts on the top line.
- The top line was arguably the worst line on the evening for the Flyers. They got out-attempted pretty heavily, but were at least able to keep the Senators to the low danger areas. Claude Giroux had a 40% corsi for (10-15), but a 55.56% scoring chances for (5-4), including two high danger chances for and just one against. He also picked up an assist, his third in the last two games, to inch closer to that 60 point mark. He has 56 points with six games remaining.
- It was good to see Dave Hakstol recognize that the top line was struggling and make a much-needed swap in the third period. Travis Konecny offers so much more than Matt Read on the top line and these last handful of games would be a great trial period for the kid on the top line. If Konecny and Read swapped in the lineup the Flyers might be icing closer to their best possible lineup.
- Jordan Weal is a player. He might not be a bonafide top-line winger, but he’s the Weal deal and deserves to stick in the top-six of this lineup. Weal was arguably the best player on the ice for both teams on Tuesday night, and he was definitely the best Flyers forward.
- Weal had a team-high 65.38% corsi for (17-9) and single-handedly made the game-tying goal happen. He was all over the ice and could have easily had multiple points in this one. He also showed off his shootout chops with the lone goal in the skills competition.
- Valtteri Filppula isn’t lighting the world on fire, but he has provided much needed depth to the Flyers’ top-nine. You don’t have to worry about him defensively, and he seems to always be calm, cool and collected with the puck. Having that solid second-line center opens up so much more for the Flyers.
- The third line had a great all-around night. They didn’t get on the scoreboard but there were plenty of chances where they missed by just inches. Couturier had a 57.69% corsi for (15-11), but a 66.67% scoring chances for (12-6) and the line could’ve easily had a goal or two if the puck bounced their way.
- Brayden Schenn has struggled at 5v5 this season, but he has been brought along by the Flyers’ best 5v5 player in Sean Couturier and another good play-driver in Dale Weise. The three have combined to be a consistent force for the Flyers recently.
- The fourth line were their usual selves against Ottawa. The only saving grace is that Konecny finally got some ice time with competent linemates in the third period.
- Like with the forwards, it would take just one switch to have the ideal defensive pairings. Swapping Gudas and MacDonald would give the Flyers their best pairs of the season.
- The top pair weren’t at their best on Tuesday night. However, like the top forward line, the numbers make them look worse than they were. Ivan Provorov had a 35.14% corsi for (13-24), but broke even with a 50% scoring chances for (8-8), including five high-danger chances for and just two against (71.43%)
- I said in the forward section that Jordan Weal was arguably one of the best skaters on the ice for either team. Well, here is your argument. Weal was the best forward without a doubt, and Shayne Gostisbehere was absolutely the best defenseman. He looked fantastic throughout his team-leading 23:03 of ice time.
- Gostisbehere has had a few great games in a row now and you can only wonder if he’s finally healthy and confident after surgery last offseason. That’s definitely not an excuse, but it’s good to see Gostisbehere back in form. He scored on Sunday night and followed that up with a power play assist on Tuesday night. He and Michael Del Zotto have combined to make quite the pair. Del Zotto had a good overall game as well, but he took out Manning on Ottawa’s second goal that nearly cost his team the game.
- It’s fun to watch Gostisbehere with a good defensive partner after he’s spent most of the season with Brandon Manning, Andrew MacDonald, and most recently Nick Schultz.
- It’s a shame that Radko Gudas has gotten demoted to a third-pairing role with the second pair thriving. He played another good game on Tuesday night and has been one of the Flyers’ top two or three defensemen all season long. It would make sense for the right-handed Gudas to be paired with Provorov on the top pair to test things out moving forward, but it seems that MacDonald has that locked up. Hopefully we can at least see it for a game in these final few weeks.
The Flyers have been making a conscious effort to get shots from the slot and high-quality areas. It’s refreshing to see less point shots and more pucks on net from dangerous areas.
The Flyers let up as the game moved along, but they still man-handled the Hurricanes in shot attempts. They had as many shots on goal as the Hurricanes had shot attempts, and only 10 less scoring chances than Carolina’s shot attempt totals.
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.