We reached the halfway point of the Flyers’ season this afternoon, and say what you will about it, but this sure does seem like a team that saves its best performances for good teams. (Which is probably why they played poorly last Tuesday against the Penguins, am I right?)
A game that featured Tyrell Goulbourne’s NHL debut saw the Flyers get out to a scorching-hot start (in no small part thanks to an outstanding first shift by Goulbourne), and the big guns would take over from there, pushing the Flyers to six goals for the second straight game en route to a 6-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues.
Sean Couturier would tally two goals (one an empty netter), setting a career-high in points in the process. Scott Laughton, Claude Giroux, Jordan Weal, and Wayne Simmonds would also score for the Flyers. Brian Elliott, up against his old team and playing in his 16th consecutive game, stopped 28 out of 31 shots against his old pals.
Re-live the magic with us below as I react minute-by-minute to today’s win.
12:52 p.m.: So I’ve been on vacation for the past week and a half and I saw about four minutes of Flyers hockey during that time. I followed along while I was gone (like vacation stops me from checking Twitter 83 times an hour lol), but I gather that in the past nine days, the Flyers split four games. During that time, it would appear that they laid an egg against Pittsburgh, lost to a bad Florida team AND beat the best team in hockey both within just over 24 hours, called up Tyrell Goulbourne for some reason or another, didn’t have Tyrell Goulbourne make his debut because a toilet on an airplane was broken, and have played Brian Elliott a lot.
Business as usual, then! And now they’ll face off with another one of the best teams in hockey. Good times.
12:58 p.m.: Goulbourne does NOT get the start in his first-ever NHL game, as we’ll get the top line and top pairing alongside Elliott in what is, I believe, his 462nd consecutive start.
Today’s starters…— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) January 6, 2018
1:03 p.m.: I’m not sure if you knew this, but Brayden Schenn used to play for the Flyers. Did you know that? A lot of people don’t know this. Anywho, Brayden Schenn (who used to play for the Flyers) (in case you didn’t know that) will start for the Blues.
1:09 p.m.: Goulbourne is wearing number 56. I’m OK with it! Also, we’re underway. Also also, Giroux sends Schenn to the ice
1:11 p.m.: Gotta say, I dig Jake Allen’s pads.
1:12 p.m.: lmaooooooooooOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO TYRELL GOULBOURNE MESSES UP TWO BLUES ON HIS FIRST NHL SHIFT AND SCOTT LAUGHTON DEPOSITS THE PUCK INTO THE NET IT’S 1-0 FLYERS
1:14 p.m.: Awesome. Also, not to be lost in all of this is a very nice shot by Laughton. Seems like he’s been up to some good things lately.
Goulbourne paves the way for Laughton to grab the opener!— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) January 6, 2018
That's how you make an instant impact. pic.twitter.com/ZpAxWtaB0J
1:17 p.m.: Jim Jackson mentioning how many guys involved in this game have played for both teams here. Schenn, Elliott, Jori Lehtera, Scottie Upshall, Craig Berube. Sharing is power.
1:19 p.m.: Them’s the breaks! An attempt at a pass by Giroux on a 2-on-1 bounces off of a prone Colton Parayko’s butt and past Jake Allen. 2-0 Flyers and we’re not even at the first commercial break. This seems good.
1:23 p.m.: The Blues finally get (I think? their first shot on goal as a long pass to Schenn leads to a close chance in front. Another, longer shot a few seconds later is held by Elliott and we’re at the first break of the game about halfway through the period. Flyers got the first seven shots of the game before those two by St. Louis. Quite a start.
1:24 p.m.: Here’s that second goal. Feel free to make your favorite butt joke here.
The butt goal!— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) January 6, 2018
Giroux banks it off Parayko's backside and into the net. pic.twitter.com/cyLXyFUHZR
1:27 p.m.: The Blues get the puck in their own zone aaaaaaand play is whistled dead as Wayne Simmonds is hurt back behind the play. I’d very much prefer he not be hurt. We’ll see what that was after the break.
1:29 p.m.: The Flyers did, indeed, air a Brayden Schenn tribute during the last TV timeout. That’s nice. (He used to play for the Flyers, in case you forgot.)
1:30 p.m.: Turns out Simmonds’ boo-boo was on his face, due to a high stick by Vladimir Sobotka. But he is OK, and the Flyers will head to the power play for the first time this afternoon. Can live with it!
1:32 p.m.: No goals on the PP. First and second units both had some pressure, and they held the puck in the zone for probably about 30 seconds after the PP ended. Just a lot to like from this first period.
1:35 p.m.: So Brandon Manning joined the second power play at some point while I was on vacation, it appears. JJ out here on the broadcast saying that it has something to do with a “shooting mentality”, which the beats are also saying. If you’re going to scratch Travis Sanheim (which, why?) and want someone who’s going to just fire the god damn puck, why not just put Gudas back there? No one loves to shoot the puck more than he does.
1:37 p.m.: Good shift for the Blues off of the faceoff coming out of the commercial break. That’s maybe ... the second good shift of the period for the Blues? That’s a fine ratio.
1:41 p.m.: Rebound on a point shot leads to Lehtera, of all people, getting interfered with in front of the net, and the Flyers will head to the power play. Come on, guys. You played with Jori Lehtera for three years. You know he’s not scoring there.
1:45 p.m.: That was a wholly uninteresting power play by the Flyers that is now over, as is the QUITE interesting first period. 2-0 Flyers after 20 minutes. Lots to like.
1:51 p.m.: Shot attempts that period were 24-13 Flyers overall, 19-12 Flyers at 5-on-5. Scoring chances were 12-4 Flyers overall, 9-4 at 5-on-5.
2:02 p.m.: Second period is underway.
2:07 p.m.: Flyers doing a fair bit of defending early on, but they get the best chance of its early minutes as Voracek and Filppula get a 2-on-1. Perfect pass by Voracek as he attempts to pad his league lead in assists, but Allen gets over in time to stop Filppula’s shot.
2:11 p.m.: Blues are definitely off to a better start than they were in the first. Flyers get a bit lucky when they can’t keep a puck in the blue line after some pressure, and the Flyers turn around and get a chance of their own. Still no score in the frame.
2:15 p.m.: Gudas makes a great play in the defensive zone to strip the puck away, then proceeds to meekly shoot it on Elliott. (He stopped it. No harm done.)
2:16 p.m.: First line gets a couple of swipes at the net. Travis Konecny looks nice and spry this afternoon.
2:18 p.m.: Jordan Weal with the power move off a give-and-go with Voracek! 3-0 Flyers! This is cool and good!
2:20 p.m.: Only get a brief look at Voracek’s assist here, but either way, great work by Weal to drive the net. That’s what made him successful last year; hopefully he’s getting going again.
The Weal deal.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) January 6, 2018
Nice move from Jordan to make it 3-0. pic.twitter.com/nENQEPznGC
2:23 p.m.: Giroux to Couturier. Couturier scores his 20th goal. Ties his career high in points. The Chicken Dance song is playing. Rout, for now, is on. 4-0 Flyers.
2:29 p.m.: Flyers nearly get another one, as Konecny gets in on a breakaway that doesn’t go and the top line holds some pressure for a bit longer. The Blues were pushing early in the period, but basically ever since the Flyers made it 3-0 they’ve been pouring it on. What a performance.
2:32 p.m.: Aaaaaand so ends the good stuff. (Momentarily.) Great pass from Tarasenko in his own end turns into a 2-on-1 for St. Louis, and Barbashev pops it backhand over Elliott. 4-1 Blues. AMac got caught pinching there and Tarasenko’s pass took him out of the play. He’s good, I guess. It happens.
2:36 p.m.: Scrum along the boards leads to some shoving and apparently Brandon Manning gets the only penalty out of that? Huh. Flyers will head to the penalty kill for the first time this afternoon with under four minutes left in the period.
2:37 p.m.: Did not know until this moment that the Blues have the 28th-ranked power play in the NHL. Brayden Schenn living in a world where he scores at evens but plays on a bad power play? That is wild to me. Anywho, here’s a fun experiment in Stoppable Forces and Movable Objects.
2:38 p.m.: Advantage goes to the Movable Objects, as the Blues pass the puck around a bunch but don’t get much in the way of actual chances.
2:40 p.m.: One last chance started by Voracek ends with Raffl just getting stopped by Allen and we’ll head to intermission up 4-1. Hell of a second period.
2:49 p.m.: Shots were 13-9 Flyers in that period, 9-6 at 5-on-5. Game kind of went into cruise control once the Flyers went up 4-0, but you can see the Blues’ early push and the Flyers’ in-kind response. Overall shots are 29-16 Flyers, which is quite an impressive edge considering that the Flyers have led wire-to-wire.
2:58 p.m.: Third period is underway and uhhhhhhhhh the Blues have a goal. Tarasenko with a ridiculous drive around Provorov at the blue line, goes to the net, sends it across to Stastny, and he taps it past Elliott. 4-2 just 12 seconds into the third period. Let’s not with this?
3:01 p.m.: Blues are pressing hard. They get two decent shots on Elliott within 90 seconds of that goal. Gotta push a bit here in the third; this team has too much talent to think it just won’t score.
3:04 p.m.: Big shot there by Nolan Patrick, in what is I think the first time I’ve noticed him today.
3:12 p.m.: We get to our first commercial break with 11:23 left in this one, which is crazy, because I think I’ve been watching this third period since I woke up this morning.
3:14 p.m.: NBCS Philly showing us Carter Hart highlights as they come back from intermission. I approve of this action.
3:15 p.m.: Blues nearly get within 1 on two separate chances there following a great move by Parayko to enter the zone. Clock is ticking, but still a pretty uneasy period.
3:17 p.m.: St. Louis is back and pressing again annnnnnnnd there’s a penalty. An offensive zone penalty by the visitors! Looks like another Jori Lehtera drawn penalty! That’s a good thing! Holding along the boards, and the Flyers will get a chance to possibly ice this one.
3:20 p.m.: And they do. A few seconds after Simmonds can’t find the puck in front of an open net, a Ghost shot is deflected by the Wayne Train in front and it’s 5-2.
3:22 p.m.: Classic Shayne and Wayne. That’s some hustle by Claude to get the puck out to exactly where Ghost needs it, too.
Just Wayne at work in his office. pic.twitter.com/ErHaeQi2qC— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) January 6, 2018
3:23 p.m.: And here come the woos. Know what? Why not. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
3:23 p.m.: Vladimir Tarasenko, who has done some freakishly good things in this game, gets called for, uh ... lightly tapping Sean Couturier with his stick in front of the net. That is a horrendous call. And I’m OK with it! Flyers back to the power play.
3:25 p.m.: Take it back take it back this has been a very bad power play. Most of this first minute has taken place in the Flyers’ own zone, and after a stoppage they’ll get the top unit out.
3:26 p.m.: Simmonds almost gets his second goal of the period as he drops to a knee with a shot from the slot, but Allen gets over in time, Much better effort once the first unit comes out, but no goal as the man-advantage expires.
3:27 p.m.: Flyers ice the puck with just under six minutes left, and the Blues go straight to the extra attacker. Know what? I like the idea (for them, at least). Gotta score somehow.
3:28 p.m.: Eep. Flyers can’t clear it, and a long shot from Parayko at the blue line sneaks through traffic and past Elliott into the top corner. 5-3 with 4:31 left. Breathe. Just breathe.
3:30 p.m.: Simmonds has been getting shifts with the fourth line in Goulbourne’s place this period, and that line manages to stall a bit and keep the puck in the offensive zone. Blues get it back with about three minutes left and pull Allen again at that time.
3:31 p.m.: Simmer, who was stuck on the ice without a stick, recovers to get the puck out to the neutral zone, where Laughton just misses on an empty net goal. Hagg ices it from there, but the refs then send the faceoff out to center ice. Just about two minutes left in this one.
3:33 p.m.: Top line (with Voracek in Konecny’s place) takes the defensive zone faceoff, clears, and misses on about four different chances at the empty net, but they manage to kill off about a minute in doing so.
3:34 p.m.: FINALLY. After about 45 more seconds of several different Flyers trying and failing to hit an empty net, Couturier finishes it off, and he’s got a career-high in points. 6-3 is your final. Good win. Good welcome-back from vacation to me, so thank you for that, the Flyers.
And with that, we are now at the halfway point of this Philadelphia Flyers hockey season. Time flies, doesn’t it? Buffalo tomorrow, and then we head to the bye week. Just do this again? Please? Go Flyers.