In a stunning display of déjà vu, the Flyers once again suffered from a slow start in today's matinee against the Lightning. A giveaway at neutral ice by Nicklas Grossmann made the Flyers pay early. It was one of those plays that you can see developing even before it happens. You could see Grossmann's gears turning as he made the terrible choice to try to pass through two Bolts, you could see Killorn find the seam around Streit, and you just knew it was going in. The Lightning scored only 4:33 into the first and it set the tone for the rest of the game.
The Flyers managed to get some offensive pressure thanks to a 5-on-3 and eventually Jake Voracek netted a real pretty breakaway goal to bring the game within one, but it didn't mean much. Forty-four seconds later, Ryan Malone brought the difference again to two goals. Those kind of quick answers from the Lightning ended up killing the Flyers today. Voracek evened the game late in the second, but they couldn't keep it that way for long. By the end of the second period, the Lightning had brought their lead back to two goals and played comfortably for the rest of the game.
It wasn't a fun game to watch because it was so messy and emotional. There were moments in the second period where it appeared that they could overcome that sort of weak defensive play, but it wasn't meant to be. As time was ticking down in the third, there were chances and there was some good possession time, but none of their chances registered and all of the possession time in the world ended up making no difference at all.
Lots of things to discuss:
- Jake Voracek had a hell of a game. He contributed with two really nice looking goals to keep the team in the mix. For me, the high point of the game was his second goal. Just...lovely.
- Fourth line, from my perspective, looked strong. They had some nice possession and generated some good chances. Speaking of, Tye McGinn got promoted to the third line sometime late in the second. I don't know whether that says more about his good play or Steve Downie's bad play, but either way, good for McGinn for getting his shot. He had a beauty of a chance early on that rang off the post and he's got all sorts of jump. Flyers need more of that.
- Steve Mason was relieved of his duties during the second intermission. There were a couple of really weak goals for him, for sure, but I'm not sure about the decision when the Flyers are on a back-to-back. Still, what a bad day for him. He was definitely hung out to dry on a couple plays and had some nice saves early, but I'm afraid that at a certain point, you can't excuse a .706 save percentage.
- Really rough day from a defensive stand-point which has, at times, kept this team in contention. It was a massive breakdown of the system. Odd-man situations, giveaways, and some straight-up risky plays certainly didn't help on a day where Mason was clearly not his best.
- The Flyers had some plain ol' bad luck, too, hitting crossbar and posts, but you gotta hand it to Anders Lindback: he handled himself incredibly well. Lindback made some great saves and ended up stopping 34 of 37 shots. Good for him, I guess.
- The penalty kill, which has been excellent, has stayed excellent. The Flyers are riding a streak of twenty two kills. That's good.
The Flyers were bound to lose a game at home at some point, but this loss was frustrating. The game was within their grasp for a majority, but they let momentum escape them and let their defense fall hilariously low as a result.
They'll have to put this loss behind them and rebound quickly as they'll face the New York Rangers tomorrow night in an important divisional contest. Here's hoping for a tighter defensive game and a chance to make Henrik Lundqvist cry. Until tomorrow.