clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Senators 4, Flyers 0: 10 things we learned from yet another loss

New, comments

After two straight defeats in extra time, the Flyers found a way to fall in regulation. We break down the loss.

Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Morning Observations is a new feature, where we break down the previous night's game with an analytical eye.

  • This recent losing streak definitely has a different feel to it than the disastrous west coast road trip. In those games, the Flyers were totally outclassed, bleeding shots and scoring chances against. Over the past three games, Philadelphia has actually played quite well for stretches - they just can't seem to put the puck in the net. Last night, the Flyers carried the majority of play in the first two periods, as they out-Corsi-ed Ottawa 41-32 and won the scoring chances battle 16-13. But all it earned them was a 3-0 deficit.
  • Looking for a reason for the team-wide lack of scoring? Last night, it can at least partially be attributed to lots of missed and blocked shots. Ottawa kept the overall shots on goal relatively close - the game finished with Philadelphia ahead 36-31 - but were way behind in overall shot attempts, as the Flyers struggled to hit the net all night long. Philadelphia's shot attempts either were blocked or missed the net a whopping 45 times. Sure, some of that was due to the team taking lots of shots from the outside. But Philadelphia is also missing the net on rushes and in prime scoring areas.

  • I have no statistics to back this up, so for now, it's just a theory. But it sure seems like the Flyers have been worse this year in executing rushes in transition. Obviously, quick rushes up ice have a higher likelihood of resulting in scoring chances, as the defense scrambles to get back in position and the goaltender is forced to track quick-moving forwards. This season, Philadelphia just seems slower and less efficient in their rushes, often failing to generate even one shot on net.
  • On Friday afternoon, I broke down Sean Couturier's recent scoring woes, and noted that they could be partially attributed to a decline in his personal shooting rates so far this season. Last night, he may not have scored, but Couturier was definitely looking to take the shot. He finished tied for second on the team with seven individual shot attempts, and even generated two high-danger scoring chances. Couturier also posted yet another dominant even strength puck possession game, finished with a 69.7% Corsi For percentage. You have to believe that the points will come eventually for Couturier - he's just doing too many other things right in his game.
  • Steve Mason was in top form leading up to last night's game, but regressed a bit against Ottawa. He had no real chance on Mika Zibanejad or Mike Hoffman's goals, but I'm sure he'd love to have the final two Ottawa goals back. He was in decent position to stop both, but Milan Michalek squeaked one past Mason glove side, and Kyle Turris beat Mason from the right faceoff circle on the power play. Both goals came from prime scoring areas, but the Flyers goaltender had enough time to line up both shots. He just failed to make the saves.
  • One bright spot last night was the play of Michael Del Zotto, who continues to be this team's most consistent defenseman. He posted a 68.29% Corsi For, and that was despite a number of questionable decisions by his partner, Radko Gudas. Del Zotto is playing in a system this season that fits his talents perfectly from a defensive standpoint - he can be aggressive in the neutral and offensive zones without worrying about potential repercussions from a conservative head coach. His microstatistics are fantastic across the board, as he is one of the team's best defensemen both in terms of defensive zone exits and at defending the blue line. I'd categorized Del Zotto as a fourth or fifth defenseman on a good team this past offseason, but in 2015-16, he's played like an above-average second pair blueliner.
  • Shayne Gostisbehere was a difference-maker on the power play yet again, but we did see some of the drawbacks of his aggressive play at even strength. His reads in the neutral zone were inconsistent, and resulted in a few odd-man rushes for the Senators. He was also criticized for an offensive zone pinch that resulted in Michalek's goal, but that one didn't bother me so much. At the time, Chris VandeVelde had position on the trailing Senator forward, leaving Luke Schenn to deal with only one Ottawa player if the pinch failed. Unfortunately for the Flyers, VandeVelde lost his man, Schenn struggled in rush coverage, and then Mason allowed a stoppable goal. That's a lot of things that had to go wrong in order for the pinch to be considered "ill-advised."
  • I suspect that coach Dave Hakstol was disappointed in the effort from his team in the third period. The Flyers had a few solid shifts, primarily from the Bellemare line, but for the most part, lacked any real energy once Turris scored to give Ottawa a 4-0 lead. The game was likely out of hand, but that's no excuse to stop skating. The first line especially was invisible in the final stanza, and that's the only line over the past week that has delivered any real offensive production. If they disappear, the chances of Philadelphia scoring even one goal decrease to almost nothing.
  • Wayne Simmonds is one of many Flyers forwards having a down season so far - he's on pace for 12 goals, his lowest total since his rookie season. One of the big reasons for his early struggles has been a lack of production on the power play. So far, both goaltenders and defenses have neutralized a key play for Simmonds with the man advantage - his "spin and shoot" tactic right in front of the net. Defenses are collapsing on him as soon as he touches the puck, and goalies are anticipating his shot rather than playing the pass. Simmonds is still doing a solid job of creating screens and general havoc in the crease area, so I'm not suggesting that he be removed from the top unit. But Simmonds will need to adjust, just as penalty killers have to him.
  • The early injury to Scott Laughton forced the Flyers to shuffle their lines all night long. Laughton may not have been receiving much ice time at even strength, but he remains one of Philadelphia's quicker forwards, and an extended absence would hurt the team. The easiest choice to replace Laughton would be Vincent Lecavalier - he's already on the roster, and wouldn't be receiving much ice time anyway if he simply slots into Laughton's spot on the "third" line. More ambitious choices would be Nick Cousins or Petr Straka, two players off to great starts in the AHL. Straka in particular is intriguing. He leads the AHL in goals, and is in the third season of an entry-level contract. GM Ron Hextall mentioned that he'd prefer Straka to develop a bit further, but time is running out for the Czech forward. If he does not establish himself as an NHL option this year, there's no guarantee he will be property of the Flyers next season. I'd be inclined to give him a shot now.