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Flyers vs. Leafs recap: Flyers wake up just a bit too late, lose 4-2, still are not .500

Started well, fell asleep, got back into it just a bit too late. Still yet to reach the .500 mark this season.

But there were no goals for that guy. Moral victories still count, right? Please let them count.
But there were no goals for that guy. Moral victories still count, right? Please let them count.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Well, at least they made it close at the end?

I guess that's what makes it frustrating. A giant lull in the Flyers' effort took up about half of the game, and even though things were looking up when Scott Hartnell buried the first goal of his injury-shortened season late in the second period, James van Riemsdyk and the Leafs were able to keep their distance through the rest of the way and held off a late Flyers charge to keep the orange and black below .500 again. Blah.

Thoughts in bullet form:

* We've seen a lot, in recent games, of the Flyers getting beaten every which way in the first 10 minutes or so of the period before ultimately finding themselves in a hole. They did find themselves in a hole again tonight, but it wasn't for a lack of effort to start the game, as they picked up eight shots in the first 10 minutes or so and won most races to the puck and towards the net.

* Naturally, those shots didn't lead to points, and then the Flyers fell asleep. Things got really, really, reeeeallllly slow, at they picked up a total of six shots in the 28:34 between that eighth shot and Scott Hartnell's goal at the end of the second period. In that time, Toronto scored two goals and wouldn't trail the rest of the way.

* Particularly noticeable on those first two goals from Toronto: the Leafs were just quicker. On the first goal, Phil Kessel just raced past Kimmo Timonen (who didn't exactly have his best night), and on the second one Nikolai Kulemin snuck through everyone and turned a great pass from Nazem Kadri into a breakaway. In a somewhat similar vein, the third goal--right after a Leafs power play expired--came down to Mikhail Grabovski just beating the Flyers' defensemen to a rebound in front. Some of that (i.e. your overworked 37-year old defenseman getting outraced by Phil Kessel) is going to happen. Meanwhile, some of it is fixable. At least fix what you can, whether the adjustments being made are personnel-wise, conditioning-wise, or tactical. It's not like the fastest NHL-ready player in the system is sitting in Glens Falls right now or anything, so OH WAIT HE IS. Miss you, Eric Wellwood.

* Last year, in October of 2011, a slumping Scott Hartnell got his first goal of the season at the Wells Fargo Center against the Maple Leafs, and that sprung him to a career year. Tonight, a recently-returned-from-injury Scott Hartnell got his first goal of the season at the Wells Fargo Center against the Maple Leafs, though things are obviously a bit different now. Let's hope he gets on another hot streak soon.

* Not for nothing, because the Flyers went on the PP six times and were pretty bad on all but one of them, but a fairly obvious call on Dion Phaneuf for playing the puck with a broken stick with ~2 minutes left would've been nice, eh?

* Despite the loss, NHL First Star of the Week Jakub Voracek is still awesome. A wonderful assist on Hartnell's goal, and a power play tally in the third. Claude Giroux also moved his point streak to five with a pair of helpers.

* Bryz was whatever. Left enough room for Kessel to snipe the first one past him far side, and he'd probably like that one back, but he was OK otherwise, I thought. Second goal was off a breakaway but he could've played it better, and the third came after a very nice save when no one cleared the rebound. Not his best night, but not why they lost. Could use a nice showing from him on Wednesday against Washington.

* Erik Gustafsson (20:08) had more ice time than any defenseman not named Braydon Coburn (20:17). Clearly Laviolette thinks highly of what he's doing out there, even though he spent most of his ice time on the third pairing (with Gervais) and on the PP.

* Zac Rinaldo, who's been receiving a lot of praise over the past few days for being...a bit less insane than he typically is...undermined that point a little bit by telling Phil Kessel he was gonna take his head off. That happened. Though Kessel went on to score a goal and appears to have not been decapitated so I guess he kinda won that one. Rinaldo did, though, manage to draw a penalty--without committing any--and pick up six hits in his 7:49, which is probably about as much as we can ask of him.

* Lastly, and by far most importantly (because it's all we have at this point), James van Riemsdyk was held off the scoresheet and only put one shot on net. And he took a very silly pair of separate penalties late in the game the put the Flyers on the PP for four minutes and helped make the game close. So at the very least, no nightmarish scenes that we'll be seeing in our minds for the next two weeks. Little things.

* Oh and while the game was happening the Flyers traded Mike Testwuide to Calgary for some center named Mitch Wahl. There's that big move we were all looking for. Cup-bound, baby.

Questions to Answer
  1. Can the Flyers shut down the Leafs top line, especially, for embarrassment's sake, van Riemsdyk? Phil Kessel opened up the scoring in the first, but otherwise pretty quiet. JVR had one shot and no points and gave the Flyers a four-minute PP late. About as good as we could ask for.
  2. Can Jakub Voracek keep up the hot streak? One goal, one assist. Six straight games with a point. Hot streak continued.
  3. Special teams have been great lately. More of the same? PP looked pretty awful until their goal late in the game, and had some chances after that. PK looked good, only allowing one shot on four tries and no goals allowed.
  4. A .500 record. (Okay, fine, an NHL-defined quasi-.500 record.) Can it happen, finally? Aw, that's cute.

Comment of the Night:

Someone needs to pluck a few strands of [Voracek's] hair and synthesize whatever in it makes it magic, then feed it to the rest of the team.

Washington on Wednesday at 7:30 on NBCSN. In the meantime, go check out Pension Plan Puppets for the Toronto side and/or for a GIF involving Luke Schenn and JVR, I assume. Also scoring chances for the game over at The Leafs Nation if you're interested.

Go Flyers.