After some surprisingly good play as of late, the Flyers regressed right back into mediocrity, losing to the Nashville Predators due in large part to a serious lapse in special teams play.
Obviously, the narrative going into tonight was focused on the Flyers facing their former head coach Peter Laviolette for the first time since his departure last season. Laviolette has done pretty well in Nashville since taking over, and his successor in Philly has done….well….
Anyway, this was the first chance for Laviolette to show the Flyers why they were wrong to get rid of him. So how did that work out?
Well, there's no doubt that the Predators came out looking like the better team tonight. Throughout the first period, they controlled possession pretty handily, and were definitely getting the majority of good scoring chances. Sure, the Flyers had a few instances of good play, but it was very clearly Nashville's game.
I'll chalk that up to Nashville having six defensemen that are arguably better than anyone on the Flyers defensive corps. Ugh.
The Flyers entered the second period down 1-0, but started it with a two-man advantage. Unfortunately, some good penalty killing (and some damn good saves by Pekka Rinne) kept them off the board. But just when I thought the Predators were going to take the game by the horns, Claude Giroux ripped a beautiful shot past Pekka Rinne to tie the game.
However, we can't have nice things, and in the second half of the period, the Predators found themselves with their own two-man advantage. And unlike the Flyers, the Preds were able to cash in for their first five on three goal of the season. Of course that happened.
Oh! And then Nashville scored on the five on four just a few seconds later. WOOOOO! That goal proved to be the last of the period, and the Flyers entered the locker room down 3-1.
The third period was one prolonged fart that was capped off with a Predators' empty net goal. I don't want to talk about it. The Flyers lost.
Here are some of Al's Amazingly Accurate Observations™:
- Filip Forsberg is really damn impressive. In the first period, he not only was the driving force behind a zone entry for the Predators, but he also scored on that same shift. He then added an assist on the power play in the second. The kid is looking more and more like a star every day, which makes it even more hilarious that the Capitals gave him up for Martin Erat.
- The refs were pretty liberal with the whistles tonight -- they had called five penalties by the end of the first period. More importantly, some of the calls were certainly #bad and not #good. Wayne Simmonds was given a "slashing" penalty at one point that made….very little sense. Bad calls were made in the Flyers' favor, too, but who cares about that?
- And if you couldn't tell already, all of those penalties ended up being a bad thing for the Flyers. Their special teams tonight were nothing short of piping hot garbage -- they surrendered three power play goals and failed to cash in on any of their own extra man situations. A team this mediocre just can't let special teams play like this if they have any hope of making the playoffs, so maybe Berube should make that a focus going forward. What do I know, though?
- It didn't seem like the Predators were going to have to lean on Pekka Rinne too much tonight, but he showed some flashes of brilliance. Perhaps the most impressive was a point blank save on a Chris VandeVelde backhand shot that absolutely should have gone in the net. A guy like Rinne will do that to you, though, so throwing pucks on net should have been a bigger priority tonight (and every night, for that matter).
- While we're on goaltending….Emery looked pretty shaky out there. There were multiple times during the game where he flubbed a rebound and just couldn't locate the puck, including a scrum in the second period that surprisingly didn't result in a Nashville goal. Here's to hoping for Steve Mason's return.
- The fourth line continues to be a bright spot for this team. It's almost like having skilled players instead of #heart guys in the lineup helps your team play better hockey.
- Shea Weber is still not a Flyer after tonight. Come on, Hextall.