The Flyers took care of business on the road with a 3-2 win over the Red Wings in overtime on Tuesday night; here’s what we learned from a game in which the boys earned an important two points in Detroit.
Travis Konecny does it again in OT
Great individual effort to make a play at the blue line, touch back up to make the play onside, and then rip a shot past Mrazek for his second game-winner in overtime in as many games. Both goals came just 27 seconds into the overtime sessions and the confidence continues to grow for the second-year forward.
TRAVIS KONECNY WITH THE OVER TIME WINNER, AGAIN! pic.twitter.com/HdXaKoqq7i— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 24, 2018
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol gets a ton of criticism for his lineups, but plugging Konecny in with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier has been a great move. Konecny has provided offense at even strength on the top line and has now helped create goals in all three of the Flyers’ most recent overtime wins.
Those are three extra points that could be massive later in the season in a playoff push given the competitiveness of the Metropolitan Division this season.
Ugly first period
The Flyers managed just five shots on goal through 20 minutes, and gave up an own-goal after a Jonathan Ericsson shot deflected off Brandon Manning and past Brian Elliott to make it 1-0 Red Wings.
It wasn’t a banner frame for the Red Wings, either, but the Flyers looked slow and uninspired despite riding a three-game winning streak into the Big Pizza Palace. The breakouts weren’t crisp, the passing wasn’t tape-to-tape, and it was just an ugly period to have to watch.
Hey, speaking of Brandon Manning
Manning was attempting to block the shot, but the reality was that it was a weak wrist shot from the blue line with no Red Wings in front to re-direct or screen Elliott. Instead, there was only Manning, who continues to provide zero reasoning as to why he’s penciled into the lineup sheet night-in and night-out.
Compounding the goal was the news that Travis Sanheim was sent back to the Phantoms. Manning and Sanheim have spent the season essentially being flipped back and forth in their role as the sixth and seventh defenseman, respectively.
The problem is still the same as has been for some time: we already know what Brandon Manning is and we don’t yet know what we have in Sanheim. At the end of the day Manning doesn’t help this team in the future while also being as good —if not worse— than Sanheim is at this very second.
Power play comes through after a quiet past four games
The big three gets in on the act with Jake Voracek’s go-ahead goal to end an 0-for-13 power play drought and take the 2-1 lead in the second. Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux picked up assists on Voracek’s ninth of the season. The passing was good, Couturier got to an open spot, and Jake moved in for the killshot.
FLYERS GOAL SCORED BY #93 JAKE VORACEK— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 24, 2018
2-1 FLYERS pic.twitter.com/PsJTAjurYk
Voracek showed patience to wait for some of the mess in front of Mrazek to clear before attempting to get the shot through. He also shot the puck, which is nice given his propensity to defer to his teammates in most of those situations.
The Flyers’ first power play wasn’t much to write home about, but they made their second chance count with a couple chances leading up to Voracek’s goal.
Flyers continue to dominate the second period
The flat first period was met with swift change in the second. The Flyers made a concerted effort to get pucks to the net and were rewarded with MacDonald’s goal. Michael Raffl setup a perfect screen in front of Mrazek and MacDonald hit the net with a well placed shot.
Andrew MacDonald scores his 2nd of the season, we're tied at one! pic.twitter.com/IUchJxufWM— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 24, 2018
That was a far cry from the first period, where the Flyers lurked on the outside far too often, only generating shots from the face off dots and out. Facing a hot goalie, that wasn’t going to get it done and the Flyers did a nice job changing the way they attacked at intermission.
The Flyers rank fourth in NHL with 59 second period goals this season, and have used the first intermission to adjust and regroup as good as anyone. Sure, you’d love to see the Flyers get off to better starts and not have to rely on the middle frame to climb back into games, but with how dominant the Flyers have been in the second 20 minutes you can live with them starting slow here and there.
Brian Elliott, with help from Tyler Bertuzzi, was huge again
The Flyers have gotten great goaltending in their four-straight wins since that 5-1 loss at New York back on Jan. 16, and Elliott was huge early on and down the stretch. There was nothing he could do on the first goal, just a rough bounce that happens but he recovered with a nice first period but was stellar in the second and third.
The veteran came up with a huge save on an Anthony Mantha deflection, then another big save on Tomas Tatar in second period as he kept himself in the game while the Flyers dominated action at the other end.
In the third Elliott came up with a massive stop on Martin Frk as the Red Wings were on a late power play courtesy of a terrible Robert Hagg boarding penalty. Elliott anticipated the cross-ice pass from Henrik Zetterberg and got over in time to get a piece of Frk’s rising shot. The stop allowed the Flyers to get a point and find their way to overtime, where Travis Konecny would tack on another point.
He also got some help as Bertuzzi missed two wide-open nets in the third period, which should have at least ended with one Detroit goal but didn’t.
Flyers penalty kill steps up
Detroit doesn’t boast one of the better power plays in the league (19th), but the Flyers’ 29th-ranked penalty kill has had trouble against anyone and everyone this season. But against the Red Wings the Flyers seemed to simplify things on the kill and just get quick clears whenever they gained possession.
They killed off both of the Wings’ man-advantages on the night and did so with relative ease. Detroit’s best chance on special teams might have been shorthanded, when Luke Glendening forced Brian Elliott to make a stellar save in the second.
Coming in, the Flyers had allowed power play goals in four of their past five —which puts any type of winning streak in jeopardy— and continues to be an issue even with a pair of kills in this one.
Inside the Flyers’ shot selection
After generating just five shots on goal in the first period as we noted above, the Flyers spent the rest of the night getting pucks toward the net often. They outshot the Red Wings by 11 in the second period (18-7) alone and got more pucks on net (31 to 21).
Facing a hot goaltender in Petr Mrazek, the Flyers needed to get more pucks to the net to create more chances and it’s easy to see how the thinking changed after the first 20 minutes.
Flyers get away with 20 minute effort for two points
The Flyers spent the first period digging themselves a hole, and a 1-0 deficit on the scoreboard. In the second the Flyers did what they’ve done all year and not only get back in the game, but take the 2-1 lead at that. Then they spent the third period giving all that momentum back.
Given the way that the Red Wings carried play in essentially two of three periods, it’s a semi-miracle that Travis Konecny even had a chance in overtime to give the Flyers a second point. But while Detroit did dominate play, they had just one more high-danger scoring chance on the night per NaturalStatTrick, and weren’t able to convert on some golden chances down the stretch that the Flyers more or less just survived.
It sure wasn’t pretty, but the Flyers will certainly take it given just how tight things are in their division right now. The win puts the Flyers back in a playoff position for the time being, but they’ll need stronger 60-minute efforts down the stretch if they have any hope of making the playoffs this season.
All of a sudden the Flyers have won eight of their past nine games with that Rangers clunker in-between two four-game winning streaks. They’ve climbed from the cellar of the division to a playoff spot and have done so while riding both goalies, giving valuable rest to Brian Elliott in the meantime.
They’re also doing all this without much help from the power play (1-for-13) or the penalty kill, which is impressive. In recent years the Flyers have been a frustrating team at even strength, but that isn’t the case this season and their success in that aspect has propped this team up in ways it hasn’t in recent years.