Presented without comment:
1. Early promise
Heading into yesterday's game, it felt like it was going to be the real litmus test of where the team is at. A pretty deflated performance against San Jose could be blamed on fatigue, if it turned out to be an anomaly, but a similar performance after three days of rest would make for a different story.
And, for the first few minutes of the game, the Flyers looked strong. The energy was up, and they were looking dynamic. Simmonds's early fight sent an extra wave of energy through the building and the team, and while they weren't dominating play, they didn't look like a team rattled by a nine game losing streak.
But the energy didn't quite hold, or wasn't quite enough. The Flyers were outshot 15-8 in the first period, and would continue to trail for much of the rest of the game. The effort didn’t disappear entirely, but the necessary push just couldn’t be located.
2. Total breakdown around the Spooner goal
So the Spooner goal. What a mess.
Ryan Spooner's goal to make it 1-0. Terrible pass by Patrick and Amac got completely turnstiled. pic.twitter.com/5OIxhd6npY— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 2, 2017
Patrick’s no look pass was risky to begin with, and looks even worse when Spooner picked it up with a lot of space in front of him. Provorov couldn’t get to him fast enough to break up the play. MacDonald just isn’t fast enough, in general, and didn’t really ever stand much of a chance to catch up and try to disrupt the play, as they moved into the Flyers’ zone. And then it was just Spooner and Elliott, and Elliott just got beat.
So, suffice it to say, there was plenty of blame to go around, but beyond the ugliness that surrounded this goal, the aftermath was even uglier. From there on, the Flyers’ energy started to dip, and momentum climbed steadily in the Bruins' favor until well into the second period. A steady deflation, right before our very eyes.
3. Penalty kill on the up and up (sort of)
But we've been grumbling a lot, here. I mean, there’s a lot to grumble about, but we can swing into a positive for a hot second, here.
After looking pretty much awful through most of the losing streak, the PK showed some impressive flashes, especially in their first showing killing the Simmonds penalty, around halfway through the first period.
- Hagg working to dig the puck out of the corner and clear it, breaking up the extended push the Bruins had been sinking into.
- Raffl, in throwing the body around, keeping the puck tied up around the blue line before eventually clearing.
Of course, the PK getting itself together would come when much else seemed to fall apart. And it would be nice to see them playing more aggressively, going after the puck, rather than just getting set and hoping to make the stop. But we can at least praise their efforts and good work.
4. Matching up
We know the Flyers have leaned heavily on their top line. We know that secondary scoring has been an issue. And with the first line shut down, things got ugly.
By the end of the game, Giroux, Couturier, and Voracek were held to a combined nine shots on goal, even after Voracek received a few extra shifts in the third period, and had no goals to show for it. (Well, almost a goal. If you want to almost count Giroux’s disallowed power play goal.) With Boston’s first line doing some excellent shutdown work, the Flyers had to try to find somewhere else to lean. And it just didn’t happen.
But it wasn’t like the Flyers didn’t have their chances. Giroux nearly brought some scoring on the power play. Konecny nearly opened up scoring even earlier, but his breakaway was denied. They still registered 1.58 expected goals. So the issue wasn’t just not creating quite enough chances, but not finding ways or getting the bounces to finish them.
5. Let’s talk about the power play
With the penalty kill shoring up, it makes sense that the power play would then start to waver.
To be clear, it wasn't necessarily a horrendous showing for the two units--they were able to get some good looks, but just weren't able to capitalize on them. (Well, technically they maybe did capitalize on one of them. Probably, technically. But I frankly don't have the energy to have that debate again.)
But the question I posed about the power play a week of so ago still remains: WHY is Jori Lehtera still on it?
When Weal was out, and you're desperate to find someone to fill in, fine, put him there if you absolutely must. But Weal is back, and looking more or less solid. So why is he still being held off the second unit?
Obviously, I don't have an answer to that. But what I do know is that it's holding the unit back. Weal's speed is missed. Lehtera's presence in front of the net is much better filled by Patrick. Please put Jordan back, Dave/Kris.
6. Mixed game for Elliott
As the heading suggests, it was something of an up and down afternoon for Elliott. His showing in the first period was particularly strong, as he stopped 14 of the 15 shots he faced, and kept the goal deficit from being much more than one.
But the second period saw him slipping a bit, then allowing two goals on eight shots over the period. His positioning looked not as sound, but his support also wasn’t fully there. He was able to get back on track for the third period, but all the big saves and moments of solid effort were for naught. The team in front of him just couldn’t rally hard enough to make these efforts worth it.
And, let’s not forget that he swung into the locker room for his interview with his shirt on backwards. Which feels about right.
7. *intensifying* DISCIPLINE, DISCIPLINE, DISCIPLINE
My dudes, what did I just say?
Discipline has been a problem over this losing streak. It was a big problem against San Jose. And it continued to be a problem yesterday.
Once again, a power play opportunity was negated through the Flyers taking a penalty of their own. Yesterdayy’s culprit? Shayne Gostisbehere, with a crosscheck, as the Flyers swept into their own zone to retrieve a cleared puck. It was a frustrated, let-the-emotions-get-the-best-of-you move, and it was just bad.
To be fair to Ghost, he was able to draw a tripping penalty about three minutes later, leading to the power play chance that allowed for Giroux’s would-be goal. But the initial penalty never should have happened.
And, yeah, I get it. Everyone’s frustrated with the way these games are going. But, trying to make a play or not, you’re not making them any more winnable by making these repeated lapses in judgement.
8. Konecny Watch 2k17
So, we've seen Lehtera Watch 2k17 through the beginning of the season and preseason, as we worked to discern if he's good or not.
(Narrator: “he isn't.”)
But Konecny Watch, rather, started in the third period of yesterday's game, with me watching to see when the heck Konecny would finally get back on the ice.
After an initial 30 second shift inside the first minute of the period, Konecny found himself benched. Beyond two more shifts at the very end of the period that would get him to a total of forty two seconds played, the game was effectively over for him.
And, in a game full of ridiculous happenings, this was perhaps the most ridiculous. If nothing else, it's vintage Hakstol, swinging back around.
Through the first forty minutes of the game, Konecny led the team with four shots, double that of the nearest player behind him.
And, of course, there's something to be said if the team wants to double shift Simmonds in trying to spark something late in the game. Fine. But benching the player already leading in scoring chances is absolutely not the way to do it.
9. Sunday morning number
The Flyers have had six shutouts in 26 games played so far this season. If you’re not keeping track, that’s 23.08 percent. And that’s not great.
And sure, when a team’s in a ten game losing streak, a loss is a loss, and it might be hard to quibble over whether the loss involved goals scored or not. The results still stand. Point taken.
But the Flyers are going to dig their way out of this hole eventually. I don’t know what it will take, or how big of a shakeup will be had in the process. But they’re going to break through eventually. But even when they do, this figure remains. Maybe secondary scoring will pick up, and that’ll be what pulls them out.
If not, they’re going have to take a long look and find a way to make sure this trend doesn’t continue.
10. The only damn thing I know
Second intermission. Freezing cold inside the Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers are down 3-0 and we still have to watch another period of what looks like will be stale hockey.
I'm looking up game stats on my computer. They are not good.
And at the bottom of the page--an ad from Stubhub trying to sell me Sixers tickets.
"Get out of here, dude. Save yourself while you still can."
But the time has passed. The Flyers have dug in their claws and I can't get out. I'm withering away. A shell of my former self. Dead inside.