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Rangers 5, Flyers 1: What we learned from a frustrating letdown

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Your typical Flyers/Rangers game I suppose

Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

All stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick and Corsica.hockey

Corsi Report:

Flyers raw CF% leaders vs. NYR

Player TOI CF CA CF% CF% Rel
Player TOI CF CA CF% CF% Rel
Jordan.Weal 12:40 12 3 80 26.67
Nolan.Patrick 12:31 12 4 75 20.76
Wayne.Simmonds 12:42 12 4 75 20.76
Shayne.Gostisbehere 18:49 21 8 72.41 22.41
Ivan.Provorov 17:40 21 10 67.74 15.47
Michael.Raffl 12:39 8 4 66.67 9.52
Jakub.Voracek 13:55 13 7 65 8.64
Sean.Couturier 14:04 15 10 60 2
Brandon.Manning 15:10 15 12 55.56 -4.86
Claude.Giroux 14:00 15 13 53.57 -8.13
Valtteri.Filppula 13:15 8 7 53.33 -6.67
Travis.Konecny 14:01 12 11 52.17 -9.36
Jori.Lehtera 10:13 9 9 50 -11.4
Robert.Hagg 16:58 10 10 50 -11.82
Radko.Gudas 14:24 11 12 47.83 -15.64
Taylor.Leier 10:58 9 10 47.37 -15.13
Scott.Laughton 11:15 9 11 45 -18.64
Andrew.MacDonald 18:10 8 10 44.44 -18.71

Flyers xGF% leaders vs. NYR

Skater TOI xGF xGA xG +/- xGF%
Skater TOI xGF xGA xG +/- xGF%
JORDAN.WEAL 12.7 0.85 0.13 0.72 86.73%
WAYNE.SIMMONDS 12.7 0.86 0.18 0.68 82.69%
SHAYNE.GOSTISBEHERE 18.8 0.69 0.16 0.53 81.18%
NOLAN.PATRICK 12.5 0.85 0.22 0.63 79.44%
IVAN.PROVOROV 17.7 0.68 0.38 0.3 64.15%
MICHAEL.RAFFL 12.7 0.15 0.19 -0.04 44.12%
TRAVIS.KONECNY 14 0.34 0.45 -0.11 43.04%
RADKO.GUDAS 14.4 0.54 0.72 -0.18 42.86%
CLAUDE.GIROUX 14 0.37 0.5 -0.13 42.53%
BRANDON.MANNING 15.2 0.64 0.87 -0.23 42.38%
VALTTERI.FILPPULA 13.2 0.15 0.21 -0.06 41.67%
ROBERT.HAGG 17 0.37 0.59 -0.22 38.54%
SEAN.COUTURIER 14.1 0.37 0.66 -0.29 35.92%
ANDREW.MACDONALD 18.2 0.3 0.55 -0.25 35.29%
JAKUB.VORACEK 13.9 0.18 0.36 -0.18 33.33%
JORI.LEHTERA 10.2 0.28 0.64 -0.36 30.43%
TAYLOR.LEIER 11 0.26 0.65 -0.39 28.57%
SCOTT.LAUGHTON 11.2 0.26 0.71 -0.45 26.80%

Oh hello there. So uh... what do I really say about this game? The Flyers got off to a decent start, controlling most of the scoring chances and offensive zone time. The back-breakers for the orange and black however were the number of defensive breakdowns and the inability to get a clutch save from Brian Elliott. A lot of the numbers above are inflated due to the Rangers sitting back in the third period with a four goal lead, but the performance of the Nolan Patrick line and the top defense pair really sticks out.

Outside of those two, there weren’t too many positives to takeaway from last night. The Brandon Manning and Radko Gudas pairing was atrocious despite solid metrics. Rick Nash’s breakaway goal should never have happened and I think Manning and Gudas are still trying to catch up to him.

After a few solid games, the Andrew MacDonald and Robert Hagg pairing had a horrific game, even before adjusting for score. Hagg ended with a 45.34 CF% after adjusting for score and venue, and MacDonald...well he posted a 40.18 CF% after the adjustment. The more frustrating aspect of this is, despite the pairings struggles, and despite this line being a “shut down pairing”, they both received over 16 minutes of ice time in a 5-1 game.

The second line had an okay game but again, their metrics are inflated by the fact the team was trailing almost the entire night. Even after adjusting for score they had an okay night, but the Rangers were in such conservation mode that I don’t think any amount of adjusting could give us a true judge of how the lines looked.

Team Metrics/heatmap

The Flyers beat the Rangers in almost every single important metric other than expected goals-for. They out-corsi’d them 44 to 31 and led the way in scoring chances-for. The issue for the Flyers was 21 of those 44 unblocked shot attempts came in the third period, where the Rangers were already preparing for their next game vs. Buffalo. Through two periods the Flyers were only leading 23-22 in CF, and SCF 14-12.

They lost the expected goals-for battle 2.62 to 2.02 despite having not the worst shot selection in this one. A lot of shot attempts did come from the point but there were also a lot generated from the home plate area. The Rangers, however, dominated that area of the ice and were generating essentially all of their opportunities from that spot. The problem the Flyers have of limiting chances from that area bit them yet again.


Five Takeaways:

1. That was the most typical Rangers/Flyers game I’ve ever seen

There’s been a consistent theme of Flyers vs. Rangers games over the past few years and OH BOY was it prevalent in this one. The Flyers handle the puck on Madison Square Garden ice like Andrew MacDonald handles the puck anytime he has it. It was hard to find a single pass in this game that was crisp and on the money. The Rangers scored on a few breakaways and their power play goal was a deflection on a simple wrist shot from the point. It’s the same storyline as any other Flyers/Rangers game just different characters!

2. Brian Elliott looked not good!

It’s hard to place too much blame on a goalie for breakaways and the amount of defensive breakdown the Flyers had last night. With that said, Brian Elliott did not look ready for this one. He looked completely clueless on the breakaways, his positioning was all over the place—particularly on the fourth Rangers goal by Michael Grabner. Who knows if this was just him being tired (which is completely reasonable because Dave Hakstol) or it was just an off night.

3. We need to talk about Kris Knoblauch

Kris....my boy...actually scratch that you’re not my boy because why is Brandon Manning on your second power play unit? Manning getting second power play unit time over guys like Travis Konecny, Travis Sanheim, Michael Raffl, etc. is ridiculous. There is no good reason why Manning and Jori (Jorald) Lehtera are allowed to play on the second power play unit over younger, better players. I expect this from Hakstol by now, I even accept it, but if Knoblauch is in control of the power play units? What the actual hell are we watching with Manning and Lehtera out there? I haven’t even mentioned Manning getting torched for a short handed goal yet! Yes, Jordan Weal fell down on that play and is the reason the Rangers came away with the puck. However maybe if we had an actual mobile defenseman back there instead of Brandon Manning...maybe it’s a two on one instead of a breakaway!

4. Dave Hakstol needs to learn to adjust

This has been a theme for a while now, but why does a NHL head coach not understand the aspect of mid-game coaching adjustments? Now, I’m not saying go full on Peter Laviolette and change every single line over the course of a game, but at least do something! Robert Hagg had 16:58 5-on-5 time on ice, and Andrew MacDonald had 18:10, in a game where you were trailing 3-1 at the end of the first period. Why is your shutdown pairing getting that much ice time when you need goals!

This was one of those games where I’d be fine with the Giroux - Couturier - Voracek line being brought back just to light a fire. There was none of that from Hakstol, he pulled Brian Elliott during the second intermission, but waiting until then essentially killed the impact of pulling the goalie, so he didn’t even do that right! Patrick was having a fantastic game, and yet still only got 12 minutes of 5-on-5 TOI; maybe give him an expanded role if only for a period or two. There needs to be something done to get the guys going, sitting back and doing nothing should not have been the option.

5. Question of the game, how far did you make it?

Changing it up a little bit because I don’t want to waste more words on that performance, how long did you make it last night before turning the game off?