The Flyers have been snake-bitten in the goal column of late despite outplaying their opposition on an almost nightly basis. Thursday saw luck finally fall their way in a remarkably even match up with the Blues.
St. Louis is among the top teams in the Western Conference by just about every measure, and the Flyers traded chance for chance with them in a tight checking affair.
Home/Away Chance Locations
Matt Read and the Flyers' second line had a stellar game at both ends of the ice. They were the only group up front to have sustained offensive success, dominating the chance battle and combining for both Flyers' even strength goals. Even after Berube swapped out Jakub Voracek with Wayne Simmonds on the right wing, this line kept churning out shift after quality shift.
The third period line juggling may have had something to do with a rare off night from the top line. To his credit, Voracek was a creative force on both lines.
It was surprising to see Giroux used primarily against the Blues most dangerous offensive threat in Vladdy Tarasenko. Couturier saw a ton of ice time against David Backes, who is more conventionally thought of as Hitchcock's go to "shut-down" center. It's a bit unusual to see shut-down on shut-down from both coaching staffs. You can read that either as the Hitch respecting Read, Couturier, and Voracek or Berube not respecting Schwartz, Lehtera, and Tarasenko.
After a shaky opening period the Schultz/Streit pairing locked it down and put up a quality game. They were the only pairing to boast a positive chance differential. Andrew MacDonald and Carlo Colaiacovo struggled at both ends of the ice even with a large share of the offensive zone starts. But by far the most defensively suspect pairing was the recently reunited duo of Del Zotto and Schenn. They made up for it by bringing oodles of offense to the game but you'd like to see them tighten up a bit in their own end.
No surprise to see everyone and anyone who was used on the 2nd line at the top of the list. But again, I want to single out Matt Read for a terrific offensive effort. Though he was only officially credited with three scoring chances, he could have had a half dozen more. The game winning goal was almost entirely thanks to a fantastic shift from Read.
Read makes two plays in the d-zone to initiate the breakout, wins a battle in the neutral zone to transition the puck up ice, and patiently waits for the trailing Mark Streit to set up this goal.