Pablo Picasso once said that the meaning of life is to find your gift, and the purpose of life is to give it away. In this case, the meaning of the Flyers collective life is getting mad goals. You can figure out the rest of this metaphor.
Tonight was annoying for a lot of reasons. For one, I had to dedicate time to getting my hopes up about the Flyers winning a game and then seeing those hopes dashed in about five minutes’ time. For two, we saw the Flyers outplay Toronto. For three, nothing in the world is good.
To start, the Flyers immediately fell behind. True masochism, I think. Nazem Kadri got behind Michael Del Zotto with frightening ease, slipping the puck past Steve Mason and giving the Leafs the quick lead just three minutes into the first. Just a minute later, it looked like the Leafs might tally again, applying significant pressure with quick neutral zone transitions. The Flyers closed in, though, and former Flyer and New Jersey Native James Van Riemsdyk ended up tripping noted good boy Shayne Gostisbehere, giving the orange ones a chance to put the power play to work early on in the game.
Before anyone had a chance to wonder if the power play would stay hot but not particularly bothered, Claude Giroux won a faceoff, controlled the puck long enough that Wayne Simmonds could screen Andersen, and Simmonds managed to tie this fucker up. Drinks were drained, and joy was had.
Not to be outdone, only a minute later, Travis Konecny split nearly every Leaf on the ice, streaking down the ice in a blaze of glory, as is his wont. He scored neatly, the puck slipping past the Leafs goaltender’s skate as he went down. It was ... damn, I don’t know if I can properly describe its beauty. Please go watch it. Shit, it was really nice. Reportedly, Konecny was heard yelling, “Matthews who? Marner who? Nylander who?” after the goal. Seems a little braggadocious to me, but to each their own.
A flurry of goal scoring opened the game, but the teams seemed to settle into the pace as time passed. If you were wondering, the Flyers did continue to do that thing they love to do, where they turn the puck over in the defensive zone and then collectively shrug as though they’ve just realized that their lives are meaningless and that existence is an endless wasteland. I mean, existentialism is real and valuable, but contemplating it in the middle of a hockey game seems like the inopportune moment for everyone involved.
This was crystallized in one moment, as Sean Couturier took a penalty late in the first. Fine, whatever, I thought. No big deal. Our penalty kill will be fine, I thought. Then, oh gosh, you will not believe what happened. Chris VandeVelde forgot where he was in the world and what he was doing and just casually flipped the puck over the glass. Maybe he saw a child who was clapping his hands and looking for some merch. Who knows? I hope it was that, but I can’t know for sure. If it wasn’t, it was really, really ... uh, bad. Awful.
What better present to give to the Toronto Maple Leafs, a gang of oversized children plus Leo Komarov whose skill is only matched by their speed? A 5-on-3. For like, the full two minutes. Almost the most amount of time possible. That ended about as well as you could imagine. The Flyers brought a 2-2 tie into the second, despite having better play for the majority of the period. So it goes.
The Flyers opened the period as they prefer: at a disadvantage. Mark Streit got called for a bad thing he did, apparently. The boxscore tells me it was tripping, but I posit that Mark Streit has never done anything wrong in his entire life. He lost his penis for us.
Just when the fleeting oh great, the Flyers are playing better than the other hockey team and they will lose because life isn’t fair thought entered my head, Sean Couturier made an incredibly good play at the blue line to spring Wayne Simmonds. When I saw him skating like a stallion up the ice, except a billion times better because horses probably can’t skate well, my heart leapt into my throat. Simmonds scored short-handed, giving the Flyers their second short-handed goal this season. We might win, I thought. We could win, I stupidly thought.
Nursing their narrow lead, the Flyers started to sit back on their heels a bit, with the Leafs controlling play at the end of the second. When the Leafs swarm, boy do they swarm. Things will eventually go poorly if you spend too much time in the defensive zone, no matter how good your defense is. On top of this, how often do you hear this iteration of the Flyers being called “good”? Sure, they might pour on some goals, but defending? Could often be described as yikes.
The Leafs then scored four goals on six shots in the third period, goals I don’t want to talk about because they hurt me. The Leafs were very mean, and they bullied me by scoring goals on Steve Mason who really didn’t deserve that kind of treatment.
Bullet points for the sake of pointing bullets:
- Four separate Maple Leafs scored their first of the season tonight. As a gag. A hilarious joke. God really thinks that one is funny, but I, for one, am getting tired of it.
- Per David Strehle, Wayne Simmonds’s goal that opened up scoring for the Orange Boys tied Rick Tocchet for 12th all-time in Flyers history, his 64th power play goal. It was his 139th goal, putting him into 21st on the the all-time goal scoring list for the Flyers.
- Travis Konecny continues to be a fuckin’ monster. Thanks, Toronto. (I know we lost, but I still get to lord this over them.)
- Speaking of Travis Konecny, Roman Polak is now an enemy of the state and we’re fighting. All of us. It’s our responsibility to fight him. I don’t make the rules, I just enforce them, much the same way Roman Polak doesn’t make the rules of being a bad hockey player, but does enforce them.
- Steve Mason started his second straight game, which sounds funny, but to be honest, stringing together two starts has been hard. Mason didn’t face an excess of rubber tonight, but did have to deal with some of the most talented young skaters in the game at the moment. The save percentage or the scoreboard might not reflect it, but he played a good game. I’d only put one, maybe two goals on him. He made 17 saves on 23 shots. Let the boy live.
- Objectively speaking, Michael Del Zotto did not have a great first period. On the first goal, he gave up the blue line quicker than he gives up his number on tinder. Halfway through the period, a defensive breakdown led to him taking a penalty to avoid giving up a goal. Thankfully, it never translated into a goal, but he obviously needed to have a better final 40. I thought he was...okay? Not great, but better than the first.
- Raffl was a healthy scratch. I honestly don’t know how or why, but this has got to change. Change back. Do whatever. I don’t care. Raffl is too good to bench. His heart is too pure. He didn’t deserve this. Someone rescue him. (Not, like, another team. Someone in Philadelphia rescue him.)
Was this game winnable? I don’t know. I think so. Anything is possible. Why did the Flyers lose? It could be that God is displaying his disfavor for the city of Philadelphia or me specifically. It could be that the Flyers are bad sometimes. They do bad things. Like, a bad amount of turnovers. Odd man rushes that would make your mom cry, depending on the fact that she cries about this sort of thing. Giving up the blue line because honestly, who needs it? Goaltending that hasn’t been able to bail everyone out.
I believe the appropriate response to this game would be a shoulder shrug. A meh! Tomorrow is another day and while that day might bring terror and destruction, I don’t know, at least there are some cool things. Travis Konecny is alive. Wayne Simmonds is still shredding. My theory that G and Jake are brothers has never officially been proven false. We have beautiful things to fall back on.
The boys are back in town tomorrow against the Wild, from Minnesota. Could be fun. Could be bad. You’ll watch either way.