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Flyers 4, Leafs 2 : 1Couturier’s late goal leads Philly past Toronto

My first line center!

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

1st Period

Considering the amount of offense the Toronto Maple Leafs have, this game had a surprisingly slow start. The Flyers were doing a great job of keeping the speedy Leafs in front of them — not letting them to get around the defense by closing quickly when they did get the puck — while Toronto kept the Flyers to the outside for most of the early going.

Something that was extremely prevalent in the early going was the aggressive nature of the Flyers’ attack. As soon as the defense got the puck they were looking to make a stretch pass to get back in the offensive zone. The pairing of Radko Gudas and Travis Sanheim were certainly putting this on display. Despite the Leafs putting a stop to it more often than not, I liked the intent.

Then completely out of nowhere, captain Claude Giroux blasted one by Frederik Andersen off the face-off. Sean Couturier won it back and set it up on a tee for Giroux who wired the back of the net. 1-0 Flyers.

The Leafs would come right back and ... well, for as good as Brian Elliott has been, that’s a goal he’s going to want to have back. Patrick Marleau came streaking down the wing, shot one short-side on Elliott and the puck found its way through the Flyers goalie to tie the game. Sports are, indeed, bad.

The tight checking game quickly dissipated as the period progressed and the chances started to pick up mid way through the period. The Flyers got a power play shortly after the Leafs goal but were unable to do much of anything versus the aggressive Toronto penalty kill.

I thought Michael Raffl and Couturier stood out the most from the forward core in the period. Both doing great work in board battles to help set up offense. On the defensive side, Sanheim was excellent, playing confident and creating offense for the Flyers. He was also excelling defending the rush.

1st period heatmap/gameflow

2nd Period

To begin the next 20 minutes, the Flyers dominated play on the first shift. The second line of Valtteri Filppula, Jakub Voracek, and Raffl, were not only maintaining puck possession, they were getting shots in on Andersen.

The Flyers would control the flow of the game for most of the second period, but old problems re-emerged with too many of those shot attempts coming from the outside. They were generating offense, but for a goalie as hot as Freddy Andersen is right now, the shots have to come from higher percentage areas.

In typical Flyers fashion, they dominated the period, but left losing on the scoreboard. Also in typical Flyers fashion, a former Flyer had to score the lone goal. James van Riemsdyk tips home a point shot on the power play from Morgan Rielly and the Leafs head into the third period leading this one 2-1. How did the Leafs get this power play you may ask? I’m sure you figured this one by now as well...

2nd period heatmap/gameflow

3rd period


Early on in the final 20 minutes, the new look fourth line — featuring Travis Konecny swapping spots with Jordan Weal — got the offense going with a fantastic shift that resulted in the game tying goal. Konecny fired a shot on goal, and while it looked like it would be TK’s tally (it appeared to bounce off of Dominic Moore and past Andersen), the credit was given to Taylor Leier. Regardless, the Flyers consistent pressure had finally been rewarded.

After a few small bursts from each team, the second line was dominating yet again with just under five minutes to play in regulation. Ivan Provorov came close twice to scoring on Andersen sneaking in from his point position, and Voracek was dominating the possession game. At first the second line seemed like it could just feature too many pass-first players, but now it’s looking like a very solid second line.

As the game wound down it looked as though we were heading for OT, then Sean Couturier pulled off the snipe heard round the world. Going far side on Andersen on a beautiful goal, a goal that Flyers fans have been waiting for him to make, showcasing his finishing ability. If you haven’t accepted this man as your first line center then I don’t know what to tell ya.

Scott Laughton would add the empty net goal to seal the deal, the Flyers have won four consecutive games after losing ten straight. Only in Philadelphia.

Final heatmap/gameflow