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Flyers vs. Flames recap: At least for a night, things are good again

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Contributions up and down the lineup gave the Flyers a good team win, as Anthony Stolarz performed well in his NHL debut.

NHL: Calgary Flames at Philadelphia Flyers
Anthony Stolarz, doing the disco.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been a stressful past couple of weeks in the wide world of the Philadelphia Flyers. The team is losing games it should be winning. The coach is making lineup decisions that the fan base hates. The goalies can’t string consecutive good games together. The top guys aren’t producing the way they probably should be. Guys are getting hurt. And the team is slowly falling down the Eastern Conference standings.

Things are stressful. And not fun. Really not fun. Which is a bummer, right? Hockey is fun, I think. That’s why we put up with all of this crap.

Thankfully, tonight, we got a reminder that hockey is, in theory, fun, because for a night the Flyers did all of the things that we know that they can do, shaking off two demoralizing losses earlier this week en route to a 5-3 win over the visiting Calgary Flames.

This was a pretty straightforward win for the Flyers, who were certainly the better team in most aspects of this one. They outshot the Flames 43-32, held the edge in 5-on-5 shot attempts, were getting high-quality chances to go along with that edge in volume, had a 6-1 edge in power play opportunities that seemed fairly justified, and were generally in control for almost the entire game outside of maybe a brief stretch early in the third period when Calgary seemed like they may claw back into the contest.

And, as you’d expect when you score five goals, a lot of players that we’ve been waiting for were out there making their presence felt tonight. Jakub Voracek had two points, including his first power play goal of the season and an absurd pass to set up Michael Raffl on the Flyers’ first goal. Raffl himself looked excellent on the top line with Voracek and Claude Giroux, giving fans some optimism that maybe things will get moving in the right direction soon for their star forwards.

But just as valuable tonight was the bottom of the lineup, which really put the Flyers over the edge. Roman Lyubimov, in the lineup for the first time in weeks, made his presence felt strongly, setting up Chris VandeVelde for a second-period goal and knocking home a rebound for a goal of his own in the third. The odd combination of VandeVelde, Lyubimov, and Brayden Schenn actually was one of the Flyers’ best lines on the night, which hopefully will lead to Lyubimov staying in the lineup moving forward.

Oh, and the goaltending fared well for itself too! After who knows how many NHL games spent sitting on the bench watching Steve Mason start, Anthony Stolarz made his NHL debut tonight and looked the part of an NHL goaltender. He shook off a pretty rough first goal against to make 29 saves on 32 Flames shots, including several very nice saves in which he showcased mobility that a guy his size probably shouldn’t have. If nothing else, he gave Dave Hakstol a performance that shouldn’t make him afraid to give Stolarz a few more starts moving forward while Michal Neuvirth is still hurt.

It wasn’t all perfect — the Flyers allowed two shorthanded goals, highlighting a problem for this team that continues to persist — but for the first time in a while, the Flyers won a game and there wasn’t really anything significant to complain about afterwards. And that’s pretty cool.

First showdown of the year against Boston on Tuesday. Go Flyers. Here are some moving pictures from this sports contest that you will mostly enjoy!