When the Flyers let a point slip away to Sabres on Thursday, a prescient Craig Berube said in his post game press conference "anybody can beat anybody in the league". In almost shocking fashion, the Flyers would go on to completely show up the Nashville Predators, who hold the league's best record and 5v5 numbers befitting one of the elite teams in the league.
Nashville was out-chanced in this one by a tune of 21-10. For the first 40 minutes of this contest, the Predators were held to just 3 scoring chances on Rob Zepp.
It wasn't until the 3rd period that the Predators finally began to show some life and force overtime.
Home/Away Chance Locations
Pekka Rinne had to stand on his head to keep this game close, with the Flyers shooting from literally anywhere and everywhere.
Chief's lineup changes paid immediate dividends as the newly formed top line with Wayne Simmonds was nearly flawless. Don't let the scoresheet fool you with Claude Giroux . He deserved some slump busting points, keying in on glorious chance after glorious chance.
The only line to remain intact through Berube's whole sale changes was Umberger/Schenn/White trio. I'm not sure if you call them a checking line, an energy line, or just the lightning in a bottle line. They've been a complete surprise and one of the team's most effective offensive forces in recent games.
Jakub Voracek's reassignment to the shut-down line with Sean Couturier and Matt Read didn't fare quite so well. I wouldn't call them "bad" in this game, but they were virtually the only unit to get exposed in the defensive zone. And they don't have a tough assignment to blame for their poor numbers.
Before this game, the media was speaking in hushed, reverent whispers about Shea Weber and the Flyers match up issues. Claude Giroux ended up obliterating both the Predators top line and their "top pair" defensively, drawing an assignment we'd typically see Sean Couturier handle.
Well over half of the Giroux line's offensive chances came against Shea Weber and Roman Josi, who finished the game an underwhelming +4/-9 and +4/-10 respectively.
Conversely, the Couturier line saw uncharacteristically muted defensive minutes. They still ate up a lot of time against the Preds' Top-6 overall, but they weren't glued to a particular match up as we might typically see.
It was a tale of two halves for the Coburn/Del Zotto pairing. They started out the game incredibly impressive before faltering in the 3rd period in their own zone. Some of that is due to their brutal zone starts and good old-fashioned mistakes with the puck.
Even still, we got a glimpse of what the Flyers can do when they have a pairing with two competent partners with complementary skill sets. It shouldn't surprise you that Giroux's line spent a significant portion of the contest being backstopped by this pairing.
The rest of the defense had varying levels of success in less prominent roles. Grossmann and MacDonald both posted positive chance differentials but with some relatively sheltered minutes. Schultz and Streit cut way down on their defensive zone miscues and delivered a solid two-way performance in middle of the road usage.