Prior to this evening, all-world Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price hadn’t allowed more than two goals in any appearance this season. Tonight, he allowed four. This happened in a game in which the Flyers outshot the home-team Canadiens by a count of 38-17 (including 29-9 in the final two periods), scored twice on the power play, re-introduced their ice-time leader from last season into the lineup, and all in all played what seemed like one of the better 60-minute efforts they’ve had this season. Also, Chris VandeVelde scored a goal. Yes, another one.
All of those objectively good things happened, and yet the Flyers actually lost tonight’s game in Montreal by a final score of 5-4. For the second time in two weeks, the orange and black will leave the Bell Centre with a close loss in a game where they can reasonably feel like they deserved a bit better, after a pair of backbreaking mistakes put the game out of reach and the Flyers couldn’t muster their third straight final-minute comeback.
It really does feel like this team’s in a stage right now where nearly every big mistake it makes is ending up in the back of the net. Think about the two sequences on which the Canadiens scored in the third period: a Michal Neuvirth misplay behind the net that gave Montreal’s Phillip Danault essentially an empty-netter, and a puck along the boards on the power play that skipped past Jakub Voracek’s stick, only to be picked right up in the offensive zone by Tomas Plekanec and wired through Neuvirth’s five-hole for a shortie.
Two incredibly unfortunate sequences, and in a game where the Flyers played what seemed like one of their best games of hockey of the season, they would end up making the difference between zero points and at least one. That’s hockey, baby.
And really, it feels like this is the third time in the past two weeks where a similar sentiment could be expressed about a Flyers game — last week’s losses to Arizona and Pittsburgh come to mind. While the optimist in me says that eventually some of these bounces are going to end up going the Flyers’ way and the otherwise-fairly-strong play we’re seeing is going to lead to more points in the standings, it’s frustrating as hell to watch right now.
Michal Neuvirth, who was playing in his fifth straight game for some reason, was only really at fault for that fourth goal, and even that was more a product of a massive brainfart than poor goaltending. And frankly, he got screwed on the first one, which is probably waived off on account of goaltender interference in 29 out of the NHL’s 30 arenas. But the fact is that when you allow five goals on any number of shots it’s hard to say you had a very good night, and when you consider that those five goals came on 17 Montreal shots, it’s more or less impossible.
All of that, basically — unimpressive goaltending and the worst breaks at the worst possible time — are how you squander an opportunity like the one the Flyers had tonight, one that they created for themselves. A lot of good things happened in this game (MDZ came back and looked solid! Konecny/Couturier/Voracek line was great again! Power play is dynamite! VandeVelde!), and if the Flyers play the way they did tonight again on most nights, they’re probably gonna win nine times out of ten.
But the same could’ve been said about those Arizona and Pittsburgh games, and I think we’re all just getting really friggin’ tired of watching that one game play out. It’s easy to sit here and say “the mistakes and goaltending will start to even out and the Flyers will win a lot of hockey games,” but it’s also getting pretty easy to say “sure, but when are we going to start seeing that, y’know, actually happen?”.
Basically, it’ll get better before it gets worse. I feel pretty confident about that. And maybe I should be a little more cheery after the Flyers had won three games in a row, including two with game-tying goals in the final minutes. Still, it stinks right now to watch a game like this slip through your fingers.
Comment of the Night:
This Habs team looks pretty well rested.
Almost as though they didn't play yesterday.
— ACaseOfTastyKakes, because we will get our laughs in at Montreal losing 10-0 no matter what the final score tonight is
Back at home against Detroit, again, on Tuesday. Time to keep the home winning streak against Detroit going. Go Flyers. Here are your highlights from tonight.
Flyers are challenging this for 'goalie interference' pic.twitter.com/SMmJI4NUkV— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 5, 2016
CHRIS VANDEVELDE JUST SCORED ON CAREY PRICE— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 5, 2016
THIS IS NOT A DRILL
THIS IS REAL LIFE pic.twitter.com/g8vX5JKJK2
Not one, but two first period goals!— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 5, 2016
Ghost puts the Flyers on top pic.twitter.com/T8os1AjNiz
>Flyers dominate period— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 6, 2016
>Habs with second shot in twenty minuets
>Habs lead 3-2 pic.twitter.com/HrlrmfTzXZ
(This next one is not a highlight and is, in fact, actually bad.)
Canadians goal scored by #30 Michael Neuvirth pic.twitter.com/2ClsTyXDs8— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 6, 2016
They're at it again!— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 6, 2016
Wayne Train pulls the team within one! pic.twitter.com/5op8iXxTtj
(This, too, could be considered “bad”.)