I mean, come on, we all knew on Monday when this stretch of games began that it’d be a three-game sweep for the Flyers, right? That’s just how teams roll when they’ve lost 10 games in a row?
No? Well, it’s certainly how this team has decided to roll.
Another fantastic showing from the Michael Raffl - Valtteri Filppula - Jakub Voracek line led the way for the Flyers, Brian Elliott was excellent for the second straight night, and the Flyers slammed the door on Western Canada with a 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. The win was their third straight victory following the brutal 10-game losing streak that lasted for most of November.
You can re-live the final #FlyersAfterDark of the season (no more late starts after tonight!), courtesy of my minute-by-minute thoughts, below.
9:50 p.m.: So are they really gonna do this? After patiently waiting four weeks between wins, is this team really gonna sweep a 3-games-in-4-days swing out in Western Canada? Am I getting ahead of myself by asking that question? Why am I asking all of these questions?
Coming out and pulling together a second straight strong performance on the tail end of a back-to-back is never easy. But last night’s game was the best the Flyers have played since around Thanksgiving, and Vancouver is pretty bad. (Yes, I see their record, but, like ... come on. Look at that team.) So we’ll see how this one goes.
9:57 p.m.: The Raffl-Filppula-Voracek line and Provorov-MacDonald will be out to start this one. Given the praise that those units have received in the past couple of games, that should come as little surprise.
10:09 p.m.: We’re underway in #FlyersAfterDark for the final time this season.
10:10 p.m.: Iffy start there for the Flyers, as Provorov clears it right to a Canuck to set up a chance and then someone else loses his man in front to give them another one. Both just missed, but Vancouver’s got the better of the first couple shifts.
10:12 p.m.: And it’s not getting any better yet, as Jordan Weal (in his homecoming of sorts) is called for slashing.
10:15 p.m.: Penalty is done, but not by way of any particularly good penalty killing from anyone other than Brian Elliott. Good start to him on the second half of the back-to-back; hopefully he’s able to stay alert through the rest of the game.
10:18 p.m.: A 2-on-1 for Vancouver is slowly-developing-enough that Elliott is able to get over to shut down our old pal Sam Gagner, but the bad start continues for the Flyers. Vancouver has outshot the Flyers 9-0 through these first seven minutes. Elliott seems to have his legs under him; when will the skaters find theirs?
10:20 pm.: The Flyers have a shot! A half-decent one, at that, one that Markstrom has to slide around a bit on the ice to wrangle. More, please.
10:27 p.m.: A little more back-and-forth in that part of the period, and now the Flyers will head to the power play for the first time tonight as Alex Edler hooked Couturier. A goal here would go a ways toward erasing the bad taste from those first few minutes
10:29 p.m.: So do people actually think that power plays/penalty kills are significantly better on the road/at home? Just asking, because the broadcast crew is here talking about how much better the Flyers’ PP is on the road this year, and I have no idea if they actually think it’s tactically/systemically better or if they just think it’s a fun fact. Seems like a random thing to me. What do I know, though.
10:31 p.m.: No goals on that power play despite some solid pressure by both the first and the second unit. After the Canucks got the first nine shots on goal of the evening, the Flyers now have the next nine.
10:34 p.m.: And now the Flyers will head right back to the power play. A high-stick by Daniel Sedin, as Couturier (who miiiiiight have sold that one a little bit, though it was certainly still a legitimate penalty) draws his second penalty of the period and the Flyers will get their second shot at the man-advantage.
10:35 p.m.: Ghost from downtown! Or it’s deflected! Not sure! 1-0 Flyers.
10:36 p.m.: It was indeed deflected, but it appears it’ll remain Ghost’s goal
SCORES! 1-0 FLYERS! pic.twitter.com/8hEunxSCPA— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 8, 2017
10:37 p.m.: Things have taken little time to pick back up following that opening tally. Good chances on both ends of the ice in the minute or so since.
10:39 p.m.: Laughton is down on the ice following a very awkward collision. Goes for a hit on Troy Stecher near the boards, misses, and his face lands right on the referee’s hip. He’s up now, but is heading off the ice and it wouldn’t be surprising if he’s not seen again tonight.
Scott Laughton collided with the referee, was down for a min, walked into the locker room. Expect an update soon. pic.twitter.com/FnV3zwMOq4— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 8, 2017
10:43 p.m.: A little bit too much action in the Flyers’ end in the past couple of minutes, as Elliott’s been forced to bring back his early-period self in making a couple of scrambling saves.
10:45 p.m.: Fortunately we likely won’t see that again this period, as the Flyers will head to the power play with 2:01 left in the frame. Alex Edler is off for the second time tonight.
10:47 p.m.: That ... was not a good power play. But it does mark the end of the first period. Flyers will head in up 1-0; shots were 15-12 Canucks in the frame.
10:55 p.m.: Do you remember that game against Vancouver a couple of years ago where Bill Clement, for whatever reason, spent an entire intermission just ripping Vancouver and the Canucks and their arena and their fans? That was entertaining. (I have nothing against Vancouver. I’m sure it’s lovely.)
11:06 p.m.: We’re back at it as the second period starts.
11:06 p.m.: And it’s a goal! Michael Raffl appears to have done it again! 2-0, the Flyers.
11:07 p.m.: That ... is not a goal that Jacob Markstrom is going to want many people to see. Yeesh. Nice pass by Jake to get it on Raff’s tape, though.
LISTEN. MICHAEL RAFFL BABY! HE'S OUR BABY! pic.twitter.com/b3MZEkjcMr— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 8, 2017
11:14 p.m.: Scott Laughton is back on the ice, by the way. Great to see.
11:18 p.m.: Raffl threatens again after some Canucks zone time, as he takes the shot on a 2-on-1 with Voracek but is snuffed out by Markstrom.
11:25 p.m.: Giroux is tackled by Sven Baertschi in the faceoff circle and the Flyers hit the power play for the fourth time tonight.
11:27 p.m.: Ooooooooooooooooooooooh that’s a classic Giroux power play snipe. 3-0 Flyers.
11:28 p.m.: This is some straight-out-of-2012 stuff right here. Claude Giroux being really good again is fun.
CAPTAIN CLAUDE SCORES!— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 8, 2017
3-0 FLYGUYS pic.twitter.com/7KxdGwTnja
11:28 p.m.: Welp, when you get four power plays in half of a game, the refs are gonna be watching you. Vancouver will get its chance when we come back from the break as Leier is called for slashing.
11:30 p.m.: As the NBCS Philly broadcast just informed us, Jakub Voracek currently leads the NHL in assists. The entire NHL. That’s cool.
11:33 p.m.: Pretty solid penalty kill for the Flyers, as Vancouver wasn’t able to get much going until there were about 40 seconds left on it. Nice save by Elliott on Gagner at one point.
11:35 p.m.: Some drama in front of Elliott as Vancouver’s getting some pressure going in the Flyers end annnnnnnnnd it’s now stopping as the Canucks are called for too many men on the ice. So that’s how they were able to keep the puck in like that. Cheaters.
11:40 p.m.: That was not a particularly strong power play. Flyers led it with the second unit, probably in an effort to get them going in what’s slowly becoming a bit of a low-risk game. (It didn’t work.)
11:44 p.m.: And that was probably inevitable. Vancouver’s been testing Elliott for much of these first 40 minutes, Elliott loses track of the puck after an initial save, Boeser beats Hagg to the rebound, and it’s 3-1 with 19 seconds left in the second period. That’s a buzzkill.
11:46 p.m.: Hmm. Dave Hakstol is challenging this for goaltender interference. On replay, Sven Baertschi’s stick is clearly being held above Elliott’s blocker arm, right above which Boeser fired that puck. Not a bad challenge, solid risk to take. Let’s see what they say.
11:48 p.m.: Goal call stands after a lengthy review. Meh. Not surprising. 3-1 Canucks after two periods. Much more to like from the team in orange that period, but Vancouver has controlled far more of this game than they probably should have. You’ve got four days off after this one; no reason not to go all out in this third period.
11:57 p.m.: Through two periods, overall shots are 28-17 Vancouver, while shots at 5-on-5 are 16-10 Canucks.
12:08 a.m.: Third period is underway, and Henrik Sedin threatens Elliott in close just 68 seconds into the period as a couple of guys in orange lose sight of the puck. Gonna be one of those periods, huh.
12:11 a.m.: Weal gets a partial breakaway in on Markstrom after Gagner runs into his own guy along the boards in his zone. Hey, we never accused Sam Gagner of being very good defensively.
12:13 a.m.: The more you know: according to the broadcast crew, the Flyers have the best record in Rogers Arena of any visiting team in the NHL. Good omen?
12:17 a.m.: Adventures in goaltending! Markstrom leaves his crease and gets tied up with Scott Laughton next to his net, but no one’s there to take advantage. Seconds later, at the opposite end of the ice, Brian Elliott kind of just falls down chasing down the puck, but again, the Flyers are there to clean it up before it becomes dangerous.
12:21 a.m.: Man, Voracek and Raffl are good tonight. Nice shot by Jake is stopped by Markstrom.
12:24 a.m.: Gah. Great play towards his own blue line by Simmonds is quickly flipped into a 2-on-1 by Couturier and Giroux, but G’s pass is cut off. Flyers are pushing a bit now, content to not sit back while up 2.
12:26 a.m.: Hectic sequence continues up until a shot is blocked out of play. Flyers still up by 2 with under 8 minutes left on the road trip (hopefully).
12:29 a.m.: Filppula, while screaming* “I AM NO THIRD WHEEL ON THIS LINE!”, pushes the puck up-ice and starts an odd-man rush with Raffl and Voracek. Raffl just pushes it through the crease, but a penalty is called (on Edler, for the third time this evening) and the Flyers will get a great chance with 6:40 left to play some keepaway at worst and widen the lead at best.
*Filppula may not have actually screamed this.
12:33 a.m.: Efforts to play keepaway have not been particularly successful, as Vancouver has actually had two semi-rushes and an offensive zone faceoff during this Flyers power play. Not great! But the penalty comes and goes. Four and a half left in this one.
12:37 a.m.: Every single time something good happens to the Flyers tonight it’s that Filppula line. They just had another odd-man chance that didn’t go. And then the pressure from that entry turns into a solid chance from the slot for Robert Hagg to score his first NHL goal, but Markstrom shuts that down as well.
12:40 a.m.: Canucks, with the extra attacker, just miss out on a Sven Baertschi goal that would’ve cut that lead in half.
12:41 a.m.: And that’ll do it! For the second night in a row, Wayne Simmonds slams the empty-net goal home, following a great defensive play in the neutral zone by — who else? — Michael Raffl. The Flyers will sweep this Western Canada road trip, less than a week after losing their 10th consecutive game. This sport is so stupid.
12:42 a.m.: Elliott makes one last strong save for good measure. Can’t possibly ask for more out of him than what he gave the Flyers tonight, on a back-to-back. 4-1 is your final, and the Flyers will get four days off before heading back on to the ice next Tuesday against Toronto. (With 100 percent more Radko Gudas at that point, too!) Go Flyers.