At this point of the season, we’re mostly looking for moral victories.
The Flyers lost their third straight game tonight, by a score of 5-3 to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Their playoff hopes, which were hanging on by a thread but still vaguely realistic at this time a week or so ago, are basically dead in the water. Things are generally not fun.
And in these last few games, we’re bound to get some reminders of why and how we ended up here. In some ways, there’s no still image that better encapsulates this Flyers season than the following one, from approximately two seconds before Cam Atkinson would double the size of the Flyers’ first-period deficit:
Yes, that’s the team we’re still talking about here.
So as we watch this team try to play out the string, we’re forced to look for victories beyond the scoreboard. Reasons to keep watching beyond the love of the game and of that orange and black sweater that we see 82 times a year.
And hey, tonight we got at least one of those! For the Flyers, tonight was the Travis Konecny show, in a way we haven’t quite seen since those first few weeks of October when Konecny really started his NHL career out with a bang. The recently-turned-20-year-old had the first multi-goal game of his Flyers career, and the two goals he’d get came on two very nice shots:
Konecny has three goals in the five games since his return from injury, and it’s great to see him doing what we know he can now that he’s back in the top-9. With the actual wins and losses meaning less and less with each passing day (as they pertain to the standings), the development of guys like TK will be among the most important things to watch for in the final month of the season. And when he has a game like this, it makes it easier to stomach the disappointment that may come elsewhere.
But! Since we are of course talking about the 2016-17 Philadelphia Flyers, that disappointment is going to exist. And beyond the bumps in the road that come with the aforementioned development of those young players (read: Konecny’s roughing penalty in the third period that led to Columbus’ game-winning goal), there were several points of frustration in tonight’s loss.
Such as ... the power play! The Flyers were given power plays that they proceeded to fail to score on seven times tonight, a season-high (season-low?) in terms of power play lack of productivity. Only a second-period goal from Brayden Schenn prevented the night from being a total 0-fer with the man advantage, and in any case it’s really tough to take away zero points from a game in which the other team only had four skaters on the ice for about a quarter of the length of the game.
And since it’s the Flyers, we don’t need to tell you that the four non-empty-net goals that they did give up would all make you want to bang your head against a wall, for different reasons. The reverse clown car that was that 2-on-0 pictured earlier in this article was the worst offender here, but we were also subject to a bomb of a goal in the high slot from noted recent Flyer and current-bounceback-season-haver Sam Gagner, a long point shot from Zach Werenski that had help from as many as five different players standing in the sightline of Steve Mason, and the power play snipe from Dubinsky that came after Konecny’s penalty. Bad breaks and untimely lack of execution have largely been the name of the game for the Flyers this year, and tonight — a fairly even, well-fought game against one of the East’s best teams this year that ended in a loss — was no exception.
Oh well. 14 games left. Let’s find a way to enjoy them. Back at it on Wednesday night against Pittsburgh. Go Flyers.