After the 8-2 throttling the Flyers suffered at the hands of the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, the boys in orange and black rebounded with a 7-4 over the Ottawa Senators last night. With the win, the team moves to 2-2-0 on the season, and don’t play again until their Saturday matinee vs. the Vegas Golden Knights. So without further adieu, let’s get into what we learned from a wild 7-4 victory.
All stats are courtesy of Natural Stat Trick and Corsica.hockey
1. Scoracek nets two (should have been a hat trick)
Jakub Voracek hasn’t exactly gotten off to the greatest of starts despite having three assists in three games, but he really stood out in this one. Voracek had five points on the night, with two goals and three helpers, one coming with the empty net as everyone shouted a collective “SHOOOOOOOT” at their TV’s. His first goal came via a beautiful redirection off a Shayne Gostisbehere point shot on the power play, while the second was a 2-on-1 five hole snipe on Craig Anderson. I think I can speak for most Flyers fans here when I say I fully expected Voracek to pass to Giroux on the odd man rush. It’s just how he plays. But, it was nice to see him get aggressive and make sure to get a shot on goal, especially after seeing the result.
Back in the lockout shortened 2012-2013 season, quite a few of Voracek’s 22 goals that year came off of five hole shots on odd man rushes. He’s clearly able to surprise the goalie with this kind of shot, surely large in part due to his propensity to pass, but it’s something I’d like to see Jake do a bit more offensively.
2. A strong night for the second line
Although Nolan Patrick suffered an injury shortly into the game, Travis Konecny and Oskar Lindblom did a fantastic job carrying the second line against Ottawa. Even when Jori Lehtera was slotted up to the second line in Patrick’s absence (because you know, who else would take his spot??), the line generated solid scoring chances. Konecny hit another post in this game, because apparently he’s just not allowed to score this year. Once TK gets his first out of the way, a case of the floodgates opening could very well happen for the speedster winger.
The line was easily the Flyers best in regards to driving play. Lindblom came in at a 71.72 score & venue adjusted Corsi-for percentage, good for best on the team, and Konecny at a 63.87. Surprisingly enough, Lehtera even did a solid job of driving play posting a 59.12 SVA CF%. Lehtera also may have tried to kill a man in retaliation for a dirty hit on Lindblom. Considering the circumstances, I think we can let him slide with this one.
Not only was this line driving play, the chances they were generating were high quality ones. The trio of Lindblom, Lehtera, and Konecny were the top three Flyers in expected goals-for percentage.
Formenton's hit on Lindblom. pic.twitter.com/4ujshWKYXY— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) October 11, 2018
3. Flashing back to 2004, baby!
Speaking of rough stuff, there was a good deal of it in this one! For whatever reason, it always seems like the Flyers and Senators get into these ordeals every few years, and they did it again last night. It really all started with the high stick on Patrick earlier in the game, and seemed to snowball from there. The Sens are a young, feisty team trying to prove a lot of people wrong, so naturally one of the ways to do that is to play super aggressive. That aggressiveness lead to 24 penalty minutes for the Sens, which turned out to be the exact same amount for the Flyers.
While these mini-scrums kept landing the Flyers on the penalty kill, which we’ll get to in just a second, it was nice to see the players sticking up for one another. Sure, Lehtera’s penalty was probably not the smartest to take, but he was sticking up for his teammate and it’s hard to fault that. In hindsight however, maybe next time just fight the guy, Jori?
Flyers vs Sens (mini) brawl.— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) October 11, 2018
Where have we heard this before? pic.twitter.com/z9uFBD6kuB
4. The penalty kill...not good, folks!
After a decent first two games for the penalty kill, things have taken a bit of a nosedive. The Sharks game can somewhat be written off because, well, I really don’t want to even think about that game anymore okay? But against Ottawa the Flyers gave up three power play goals and the same kind of system flaws reared their ugly heads. The passiveness on the penalty kill has plagued them, and not doing really anything to change that this offseason hasn’t helped matters. Sure, they killed four out of the seven power play chances, and there are some positives, but overall we simply can’t see a repeat of last year or the year before that or...you get the point.
5. Nolan Patrick
A slow start, and now another injury. Patrick left last night’s game with an upper body injury and one would be presumed to believe it occurred on this play:
Nolan Patrick has not returned since this collision in the first period. Hopefully it's nothing serious. pic.twitter.com/ZeacjQAwgd— Brandon Murphy (@2Murphy8) October 11, 2018
The two most likely scenarios here would most likely be either a shoulder injury, or a concussion. Patrick did sustain a concussion early on last season after a hard hit from then Anaheim Ducks, now Boston Bruins forward Chris Wagner. One would assume General Manager Ron Hextall will have an update on the former second overall pick either tomorrow or Friday.
Regardless of what the injury is, this is the last thing Patrick needed. His start to the season hasn’t been all that inspiring, and now another injury after he had seemingly finally escaped the injury bug. As the tweet above says, hopefully this is just a minor injury that doesn’t keep him out for long.
6. Shot quality once again decent
Maybe one of the better bright spots of this team so far, has been their shot selection/quality. The Flyers seem to be generating a lot more chances in front of the net or in the low slot. As we all are aware by now, this has been a sort of bugaboo for Dave Hakstol’s Flyers teams, and if this is something we don’t have to worry about anymore? It’s a definite step in the right direction.
The biggest issue for the team right now, is limiting high quality chances from their opposition. For every great chance the Flyers have, they’re seemingly giving up five better ones to the other team. The defense as a whole needs to tighten up, especially at 5-on-5. The Senators still generated tons of high quality chances, which resulted in them dominating the expected goals battle at 5-on-5. The Sens as a team posted a 2.64 xGF while the Flyers came in at 1.61. There’s always going to be a reliance on shots from defensemen in Dave Hakstol’s system. But, if the Flyers can keep doing what they’re doing on offense right now, the point shots should come less and less.
7. Top pairing struggles again
This is easily one of the more confusing aspects of the first four games of the Flyers season. Coming into the year, most of us figured with Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov getting a full year with each other, they’d be fantastic right off the bat. They’ve been...well, not that. The duo struggled again in this one, both posting negative SVA rel CF%’s, It’s only four games, but it’s a little bit concerning to see a pairing that we all expected to be brilliant this year, start out of the gates very poorly.
The prevailing theory here is if the team can still put together wins, even with the top pairing struggling, they should be just fine when they get their act together. What I don’t want to see, is Hakstol switch them around and put Provy with Andrew MacDonald or something along those lines. Provy and Ghost are simply too good for these struggles to continue, and breaking them up will only hurt the defense as a whole.
8. Hagg/AMac, Sanheim/Gudas had good games
What alternate universe are we living in where a paring of MacDonald and Robert Hagg have a better night than Gostisbehere and Provorov? The real story of the night though was the Travis Sanheim and Radko Gudas pairing, which was the Flyers clear cut best defense pairing in regards to driving play. They were fantastic in this one, posting the second and third best SVA CF% respectively. As for MacDonald and Hagg? They were no slouches either, both coming in at positive relatives and above the break even mark in CF%.
This pairing has their obvious deficiencies via the eye test and metrics alike, but this was a good game for the both of them. If the Flyers can get these kind of results from the second and third pairings on even a semi-consistent basis, it takes a huge load off of the top pair. And once the top pairing returns to former glory, it only helps those second and third pairs.
9. Scott “Serial Killer” Laughton is off to a great start
Scott Laughton has been one of the consistent bright spots for this hockey team in the early going. He’s seemingly played well in each of the Flyers four games so far, and has the finish he’s lacked in year’s past. Three goals in four games is not a pace that I think Laughton will be able to keep up. But, if Laughton can improve his finishing ability, in addition to his typically solid possession numbers, it adds an entire new dynamic to his game. The goal he had last night was an absolute thing of beauty. The ability to get that much air on the backhand shot, and roof it on Craig Anderson, it was just a perfect shot by Scotty Laughts.
10. Officiating, could ya not?
The Flyers won so this really isn’t that big of an issue in hindsight, but man the officiating left a lot to be desired last night. In each of the two main mini-scrums the Flyers were in, somehow they came away shorthanded each time, even though it appeared the Sens were just as guilty. Lindblom got dragged down in the offensive zone, no call, and there was a hook missed as well with the Flyers in a prime scoring chance. These plays obviously don’t matter all that much now, knowing the result, but if the Flyers lose this game I think we care a bit more about this.
Plus, how in the hell does Alex Formenton not get more than a simple minor penalty for his hit on Lindblom? Dangerous hit essentially putting him face first into the boards, not to mention the fact it was extremely late. Overall a very sloppy night in Ottawa.