I'm usually one to get long-winded in my recaps, but the Flyers just wasted my and all of our Saturday nights and I don't feel like wasting a whole lot more of it, so, by my standards, this recap will be relatively brief.
Tonight the Flyers faced an already-not-very-good Florida Panthers team that was missing four top-nine forwards. They sleepwalked their way through the first period, were largely unimpressive still in the second, and had some chances in the third thanks largely to their spending about half of it on the power play or with an extra attacker. They scored their first goal of the game with eight seconds left, at which point this 2-1 loss was for all intents and purposes over.
Look: this isn't a great team. We know that. There are obvious limitations on the back end and in some spots up front, and as such, we know the team is due for some clunkers. But that issue gets compounded when -- to pull one out of the bottomless sports cliche well -- you play down to your competition. The Flyers came into tonight off of a decent effort where they came up just short against a darn good team on Thursday, and they followed that up by getting dominated in the first period against what's probably, top-to-bottom, one of the least impressive teams in the NHL. And they never really got it going until it was probably too late.
Sure -- let's give some credit to the Panthers, who showed up shorthanded and gave this team everything it could handle for 40 minutes. And especially to Roberto Luongo, who stopped 36 of 37 and kept the Flyers off the scoresheet entirely for 59:52 of this game. But this -- against a Panthers team without two of its best forwards -- is a game that an average-ish team like the Flyers needs to be winning if it wants to stay in the hunt this year.
But let's hope this one causes the Flyers to look in the mirror a little bit. They're not good enough to not take anyone seriously. If they didn't know that before, they do now.
* Steve Mason made his first start since October 21 for the Flyers. He played pretty well, stopping 28 of 30. Both of the shots he gave up goals on were long shots where the Panthers got some traffic in front (and may have had some help from Flyers defensemen screening him...), so ones that he had a chance on but aren't really ones you'd pin on him, per se. Fine effort for his first night back. My guess is he starts on Tuesday against Edmonton but what do I know.
* The Flyers had six (!) power plays that they failed to convert on tonight, including two in the third that briefly overlapped for a five-on-three. 15 shots made it on Roberto Luongo's net, so I wouldn't say they were just stinking it up out there, but sometimes the other guy stops you. Collin said this during the game, and it pretty much sums up what happens on nights like this for the Flyers:
PHI relies so heavily on their special teams to balance out their pretty subpar ev play. When PP hits a slump (1-16 currently), the team— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 2, 2014
can look downright awful. That’s the price of living & dying through special teams.— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 2, 2014
Meanwhile the Panthers scored on a power play late in the game, converting on one of their four PP opportunities
* Since so much of the game was played on the power play and/or with an extra attacker, there wasn't a ton of time to get a really good read on how the team's new second through fourth lines looked at 5-on-5, but to the eye, it seemed like -- stop me if you've heard this before any time recently -- the line that was doing most of the work offensively was the top line of Michael Raffl, Claude Giroux, and Jakub Voracek. (Voracek got another point in the game's final seconds when he assisted on Vincent Lecavalier's goal with the extra man.) The newly-formed second and third lines both seemed to have one or two decent chances but nothing special on the whole. Meanwhile...
* The fourth line is a problem again. In particular, Zac Rinaldo had a terrible hockey game, as he went all of 9:32 of his ice time without the Flyers sending a single shot attempt towards the Florida net (and, at 5-on-5, this is the second straight game where that's happened!). Yuck. He was also whistled for an embellishment penalty in the second period and was the only one who went off for it, and while yes, the call itself was kind of questionable, Rinaldo (and Berube, for that matter) knows he's never going to get the benefit of the doubt in those situations. Turns out that adding Pierre-Edouard Bellemare to that line did not do the trick.
* Something Nice To Say, I Guess: I thought Michael Del Zotto played well tonight. Definitely most impressive of any of the team's defensemen, as he made some nice plays to get out of his own zone and to try and get creative in the offensive zone. I've enjoyed him so far, I really have.
*No one else on the defense stuck out much tonight, though I thought Mark Streit has played better games (he was among the worst on the team tonight in possession and took a bad penalty late in the game that put Florida on the power play for the eventual game-winning goal).
* Willie Mitchell played 25:45 tonight for Florida. I don't really have anything to add to that. You lost to this team, Flyers.
Comment of the Night:
Voracek seems pretty angry that other teams even bother trying to defend him.
Edmonton on Tuesday, back at home. Nothing to it but do to it. Go Flyers.