The Flyers rallied back from a 3-0 defecit with five unanswered goals but were unable to make the lead stick in a 6-5 loss to the Predators on Tuesday night. Here are five takeaways from the game.
1. Dave Hakstol cost his team a point, and maybe more
Hakstol’s offside challenge of Scott Hartnell’s game-tying goal at 5-5 was a bad one. The penalty for losing the challenge put his team down two men for a second time with less than two minutes left. Fillip Forsberg went on to score the game winnerwith 36 seconds left and the Flyers’ penalty kill looked absolutely gassed.
Though the replay looked close as to whether or not Hartnell was offsides, it’s too close to challenge given what the penalty would be if they were wrong. Without the challenge, the Flyers were down just a man with a little over a minute left. Sure it’s no guarantee to get to overtime, but it’s way better than going back down two men with the penalty kill already tired.
It was a high-risk gamble by Hakstol and his staff, and they got burned bad. The Flyers carried play most of the game and should have been rewarded with at least one point out of their effort, but their coach essentially took that away from them.
2. Don’t underestimate the value of being able to roll all four lines in any situation
Down 3-0, most teams need to shorten the bench, but the Flyers have gotten effective play from all four lines to start the season and could continue to roll lines normally. Scott Laughton and the fourth line started the comeback with a good shift ending with an Andrew MacDonald goal to make it 3-1.
The so-called third line of Nolan Patrick, Dale Weise and Travis Koencny would get in on the second goal with Weise hitting Patrick in front from behind the cage for Patrick’s first NHL goal to make it 2-1.
It’s been no secret that Dave Hakstol has gotten a more consistent effort across all four of his forward lines—at least to start the season—and it shows with a pair of goals from what you might call the bottom six to get the Flyers back into the hockey game.
Last year chances and goals from the fourth line were unthinkable, but this group is making a big difference early on in the season and it gives coach Hakstol more flexibility with how he deploys his lines that a year ago.
3. The rookies continue to make progress
All the focus will be on Nolan Patrick, who notched his first goal, but fellow rookie Travis Sanheim was very solid once again on defense.
It looks like the rough first game in Los Angeles is firmly behind the 21-year-old, who made a few nice subtle plays in limited action. In the first period, he absorbed a big hit by Cody McLoed in order to make a pass in the neutral zone. In the NHL you hear the term “take a hit to make a play,” and that’s just what the rookie did, staring down one of the tougher customers in the league. Sanheim didn’t shy away from the contact and made the play instead of trying to be too cute and create a giveaway in a dangerous area.
Patrick’s line was all over the Predators in this one, with each of his line mates posting at least a 50% Corsi For. Patrick drove the net on more than one occasion, showing the desire to go to the so-called dirty areas to score. Some veterans don’t go to those areas, so it’s great to see a rookie not afraid to make the net drive and potentially pay the price.
NOLAN PATRICK WITH GOAL #1 IN THE NHL #flyers pic.twitter.com/4yHguxM83u— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) October 11, 2017
4. The Konecny - Patrick - Weise line was very good
Konecny got his well-deserved first goal of the season with a perfect shot on a breakaway to give the Flyers a 4-3 lead. It was a good chip off the boards by Shayne Gostisbehere, but it was Konecny’s burst and speed that got the second-year forward in alone on Pekka Rinne.
Travis Konecny goes upstairs where momma hides the cookies!— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) October 11, 2017
4-3 #flyers pic.twitter.com/WR5PiRY9Ya
I touched on Patrick earlier, but he really has looked great playing with Konecny and—yes—Dale Weise. Weise made a great feed to Patrick on the goal and the line possessed the puck well all night.
5. Filppula gets comfortable on the first power play unit
The veteran joined the first unit effectively taking the place of Brayden Schenn, and the early results weren’t promising but the Fin found the back of the net twice on the man-advantage against Nashville. In retrospect, fitting Filppula in on the first unit was going to take time considering how different he and Schenn are at this point.
Schenn spent most of his time as a basically stationary shooter from the circle, and that’s where Filppula spent some time through the first three games but against the Predators he moved off that spot and got rewarded.
On the second of the two goals, it was Claude Giroux dropping below the goal line and created an avenue for Filppula to get open. We almost never saw Giroux—or any Flyer for that matter—dip below the goal line last season on the power play with any regularity so that could be a new wrinkle.
FLIPADELPHIA FOR THE 2ND TIME TONIGHT— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) October 11, 2017
5-3 #flyers pic.twitter.com/AtCOVXfNfd
Here’s Bill Matz of BSH Radio with his postgame reaction:
Posted by Broad Street Hockey: For Philadelphia Flyers Fans on Tuesday, October 10, 2017