And it started out so well.
After taking a two goal lead in the first four minutes of the game, and holding a 3-0 lead with 13 minutes to play in the game, the Philadelphia Flyers somehow found a way to lose, falling 4-3 in a shootout to the Montreal Canadiens.
Goals from Wayne Simmonds (he had two of them) and Michael Raffl had fans believing that the Flyers would go into the second week of the season with a notch in the win column. Instead, the team totally fell apart in the third period, letting Andrei Markov, Tomas Plekanec and finally Alex Galchenyuk score three goals in a little over seven minutes of play.
It's expected for a team to be outshot when up by three goals in the third period, simply due to score effects, but the Flyers just sat back during the entire period and let Montreal spend what felt like an eternity in the Philadelphia zone. The Canadiens' comeback was no fluke - it was caused by poor hockey all around from the Flyers.
In overtime, Wayne Simmonds almost completed a hat trick during a late power play, but just missed the tip-in goal. Stuck at 3-3, the game went to a shootout, and after seven skaters were stymied on both sides, P.A. Parenteau finally beat Ray Emery to win the game for the Habs.
11 more observations on the game:
- The third period is obviously when everything fell apart tonight. The defense was allowing Montreal easy entry into the offensive zone on almost every shift, and the forwards were simply not doing a good enough job of backchecking to compensate. As long as Coburn is out (and possibly all season long), no lead is going to be safe with this defense unless the forwards are completely committed to covering for them.
- Following the two first period goals, the Flyers spent a ton of time either on the power play or shorthanded in the first and even into the second period. Considering Philadelphia's excellent special teams and historically-mediocre 5v5 play, they were surely content with that. But special teams time totally dried up in the third, and unsurprisingly, Montreal took full advantage.
- Andrew MacDonald had his first really bad game of the season tonight. He still gives up a ton of space to opposing forwards as they enter the zone, and his zone exits (usually a solid part of his game) were pretty spotty all night long. In his defense, he is saddled with Nick Schultz right now. But even score effects don't totally excuse a -20 Corsi.
- In the first period, the Rinaldo-Bellemare-Akeson line looked like a usual Flyers' fourth line for the first time this year, getting repeatedly pinned in the defensive zone by Montreal's scorers. They bounced back with a decent second period, and then didn't see the ice much in the third. Still, their weakest game this season by far.
- Looking for a bright side in tonight's game? Sean Couturier was absolutely all over the ice. He looked especially comfortable gaining the offensive zone with speed (and possession), and nearly scored a goal in the second on a beautiful move in front of the net, only to be denied by the post. Couturier took 11 defensive zone draws to only two offensive zone faceoffs, and finished with only a -2 Corsi. He was definitely not the problem.
- Ray Emery played a fine game in the first two periods, but was hung out to dry in the third by a team that simply could not clear the zone. The third Montreal goal maybe could have been stopped, but it looked like it changed direction prior to reaching Ray.
- Wayne Simmonds, Wayne Simmonds, Wayne Simmonds. The Flyers' winger scored two goals yet again tonight and was his usual force in front of the net on the power play all game long, nearly winning the game for the Flyers in OT. We've long viewed Wayne Train as something of a middle-six forward at even strength, but this season, he's showcased better hands and increased speed through the neutral zone in all three games. He didn't have a good third period, like most of his teammates, and he was understandably ticked off after the game (as he should have been).
- Michael Raffl scored his first goal of the season back with Giroux and Voracek, and Brayden Schenn didn't exactly impress, so Raffl may have earned an extended stay on the top line.
- Speaking of Schenn, what happened to the furious backchecker that we saw in the preseason? Brayden does not look strong on the puck at all and is failing to win puck battles, both in the defensive and offensive zones.
- I'd be intrigued to time just how long the Lecavalier line was pinned in the defensive zone prior to Montreal's second goal. They couldn't get the puck out for what seemed like an eternity, iced it, and even after a timeout couldn't clear it. It had to have been over two and a half minutes of pure torture.
Comment of the Night
Come home from dinner and the score is 3-0 with 13 mins left in the 3rd. Awesome. Go take a poop and come back to a 3-3 tie. Less awesome