When the Flyers and Capitals get together, the last thing people expect is a low-event game -- but that's exactly what we all saw this afternoon. Even classifying the game as "low-event" is being pretty generous, as each team finished with only 41 attempts and Philadelphia held Washington to 11 even-stength shots in what turned out to be a weird, weird game. Suffocating neutral zone play and stifling defense aren't exactly what Philadelphia has been known for these past two seasons - but that's what we got today.
Like Charlie mentioned after the Flyers' shootout loss to the Islanders this past Thursday night, we're at the point in the season where results outweigh process. It's too late in the season and the Flyers are too far behind in the playoff race to appreciate games in which the Flyers are unable to come away with two points. We just can't.
Thankfully, today, we got the best of both worlds. Regardless of whether or not the Flyers can actually catch up to a team like the Capitals, two points on the road against a (better) divisional opponent ahead of them in the standings is satisfying -- especially given how the Flyers have played on the road this season.
Even more surprising - the Flyers had control at even-strength throughout a good portion of this game, and they never seemed to relinquish it despite the numerous penalties (both warranted and un-warranted) they were given by Tim Peel and his crew.
Today could quite possibly be one of the Flyers' best road wins of the season (not like they have a lot of those to choose from). Philadelphia won the scoring chance battle, the special teams battle, the even-strength play battle and, most importantly, the game.
A few more observations on the game:
- Let's get the bad news out of the way: Steve Mason left the game in the second period, as he injured himself stretching against the boards as a television timeout expired. From what it looked like on replays, Mason took a drink a water, put on his helmet, went down into a stretch and immediately grabbed for his right knee. He had to be carried to the locker room, and, afterward, Frank Seravalli mentioned the team announced it as a lower-body injury and that Mason wouldn't be returning to the game. No surprise there.
- Brayden Schenn didn't get annihilated today, but Tom Wilson took another dumb penalty in the offensive zone with the Capitals down a goal and an extra man on the ice. But, hey, size and toughness and all of that.
- The Capitals had 7 (SEVEN!) shot attempts in a little less than 11 minutes of power play time. That's... incredibly horrid. Over the past five seasons, the PHI penalty kill has been elite/near league-best at shot suppression. While they haven't been that good this season (middle-of-the-pack), it was nice to see the unit as a whole get back to that type of play. Third-best power play unit int the league looked awfully amateur today.
- Wayne Simmonds had himself quite the third period. Aside from the eventual game-winner, Simmonds was the instigator of a couple of decent shifts in the offensive zone. If he's going to be more of a contributor at even-strength, he'll need to continue to control the cycle game and use his body in a more effective manner. The team got that from him this afternoon.
- Can we officially put the McDavid sweepstakes thing to rest? This team is better than bottom-five in the league, and, thoughts on "tanking" aside, there's too much skill in place for that to be in the discussion. Mason's injury will certainly stifle the recent run a little bit, but they'll even out from 10th-14th, which I think is an accurate representation of where they stand.
The Flyers continue their four-game road trip in Montreal on Tuesday night. We'll make sure to have updates on Steve Mason and the impending Flyers goaltending carousel over the next couple of days. Go Flyers.