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Sharks 4, Flyers 3: What we learned from a sloppy OT loss

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I mean honestly, what was that overtime?

That one Flyers fan in the corner is all of us.
Kavin Mistry / NHLI via Getty Images

Morning, folks! The Flyers once again gave us hope they’d eek out a win, before snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Although, did we really expect anything different? Let’s take a look at what we learned from the Flyers overtime loss vs. San Jose.

All stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick and Corsica.hockey

1. The Nolan Patrick Game

The 2017 second overall pick had one of his best games as a Flyer, and certainly of this season, last night. Patrick started the game off with a beautiful breakout with himself, Oskar Lindblom, and Travis Konecny. Something that is becoming oh so prevalent in Patrick’s game is his ability to drive the middle of the ice and open up plays for his wingers, and in this example, himself. He fed Lindblom on the left wing, darted for the slot, received a pass from Konecny, made a quick move and promptly pantsed Martin Jones. This gave the Flyers the lead just 37 seconds into the game, and for a team that has struggled so mightily in the opening minutes, this had to be a major confidence booster.

Patrick wasn’t finished there, especially in the defensive game. The 20 year old was flying all over the ice, breaking up passes or straight up owning Evander Kane which I am extremely here for. Patrick may have only been a 49.09 adjusted Corsi For percentage player in this game, but given his five defensive zone starts to just one offensive zone start, it looks a little bit better. We’ve been sort of waiting for Patrick to become a legitimate impact player — and he may not be completely there yet — but this game was definitely a flash of the kind of game-changing player Patrick can be.

2. If passing percentage was tracked, the Flyers would have had -50%

That was easily one of the sloppiest, most disorganized Flyers games I think we’ve seen under Dave Hakstol, and that’s saying a lot. It’s ironic that given the first goal of the game — a result of some brilliant passing — would be the exact opposite of the rest of the game. The Flyers made mistake after mistake, attempting the long outlet pass and instead finding a Sharks player for a counter-rush.

It wasn’t even just the not-so-good players! Sean Couturier had his fair share of mistakes, along with Travis Sanheim and especially Shayne Gostisbehere on a shift near the end of the game. They simply couldn’t break the puck out to save their lives against the Sharks forecheck and defense. Given all of this, it’s truly a miracle they even came away with the point in this game, to say nothing of all of the missed shots by the Sharks. For an offense that is so heavily built on passing and finding the open man, it was honestly a bit surprising to see them struggle as much as they did.

3. Speaking of that point, first loser point of the year, folks

Believe it or not, it took the Flyers until 13th game of the season to acquire their first loser point of the 2018-2019 season. Over the past three years under Dave Hakstol, the Flyers have had 38 OT/SO losses, with two seasons of 14 or more. Sure, the Flyers would have much rather come away with the two points in this one, especially considering they lead for 15 minutes of the third and final frame. However, the team played horribly for much of this game and wouldn’t have even deserved the two points, so this seems a bit more fitting.

If the Sharks could have hit the net in the first period, we’d probably be looking at a repeat of the home opener. Not to mention the fact Calvin Pickard made some huge saves that kept his team in it for the majority of the game. The Flyers were extremely lucky to come away with the point in this game, and taking five out of the possible six points on this California road trip is a lot more than I or any of us most likely anticipated.

4. Cal...didn’t suck?

Calvin Pickard got the start for the orange and black vs. San Jose and had himself a very impressive game given the circumstances. Pickard had not played since that debacle in Columbus in the middle of October, and was faced with the task of stopping one of the most lethal attacks in the NHL. Although he’ll get the loss in this game, he kept the Flyers alive on numerous occasions. Pickard made the big saves when needed despite looking like a fish out of water while doing it. The goals scored against him were primarily on the defense, and even the third goal which he probably should have had, was a really good shot by Jumbo Joe Thornton. Pickard is hardly the reason they lost this game, and he very well could have been the reason they won, had they clutched it out.

Pickard’s time with the Flyers may be extended given the apparent return of Michal Neuvirth’s never ending injury bug. So, games like these where he gives Elliott a break, and keeps the Flyers in the game, could prove pivotal for his remaining time in Philadelphia. Oh and not to be forgotten, Cal provided us this masterful goaltending play here.

5. Shot quality, it was pretty darn good!

Oh, oh this is beautiful * chef kiss *

The Flyers lost the shot attempt battle by a clear margin last night, but they did win the high danger chance battle, which is honestly unsurprising given the heatmap above. When the Flyers got their chances, they got them from scoring areas on the ice. This is something we have all been yelling and screaming about for so long and to pull this off against a team like San Jose? It’s extremely encouraging.

But you know what’s not encouraging? The defensive side of that heatmap.

To be fair, the Flyers did keep the Sharks to the point a good amount, but the Sharks still generated way too many high danger opportunities. San Jose won the expected goals battle posting a 63.14%, even with the Flyers extended time in the high danger areas. What was very nice to see was another one of Oskar Lindblom’s signature behind the net passes to the slot. This one found its way to the tape of Jakub Voracek who beat Martin Jones for the goal on a delayed penalty. Lindblom has had three of these assists in the past three games, the pass to Patrick in Anaheim, Simmonds in L.A, and now Voracek in San Jose. We, especially Bill on BSH Radio, have been clamoring for the Flyers to work behind the net more, and at the very least it’s great to see Lindblom doing just that.

6. Dale Weise was...productive?

Was this Dale Weise’s best game as a Flyer? Because I’m kinda thinking it was. Weise was all over the Sharks on the forecheck in this game, and was essentially exactly what Ron Hextall thought he was getting when he signed Weise prior to the 2016-17 season. He was aggressive, physical, and provided a strong net front presence. The Jordan Weal goal, one could say, primarily happened because of the play of Weise. He fed Simmonds for the deflection chance that eventually made its way to Weal, parked himself directly in front of Jones and provided a perfect screen, and Weal did the rest by scoring the goal. Weise also lead the team in adjusted CF last night with a 69.22 percent (nice). It was a great game for a guy who has been in and out of the lineup seemingly since he got here. And you know what, Dale Weise looked fast in this game, which is honestly something I never imagined typing.

7. NAK played five minutes, again

These observations have generally been pretty positive, so let’s dive into a negative and it’s one we’re quite familiar with: Dave Hakstol not playing his younger players. Nicolas Aube-Kubel once again rode the pine for much of this hockey game, only receiving 5:38 of 5-on-5 ice time. Sure, NAK wasn’t exactly having a great game out there and was one of those who made some ill-advised passes, but come on Dave. The entire team was a victim of this last night, and there comes a point where how is the coach ever going to trust his rookies if he just never plays them. If Hakstol is only going to play him this much, just send him down and let Tyrell Goulbourne play those five minutes. At least in that case, he’s not stunting the development of one of the more intriguing forward prospects in the organization. These kids need playing time, and five minutes a night is not going to help them, just like putting them in the press box won’t help them.

8. First line struggles

The Flyers top line of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Travis Konecny just never seemed to find their rhythm last night. When they got offensive zone time, it didn’t last long, and typically ended in a counter rush for the Sharks. The line as a whole didn’t execute well last night and simply were hardly noticeable out there. Each member of the line was in the negatives in adjusted CF relative, with Konecny bringing up the rear at a -24.24 percent. It was a bit discouraging to see them falter against a team as good as San Jose, as you always want your top talent to match the other team’s top talent, but it’s even more discouraging that the top line as a whole has struggled this year. Couturier only has five points in 14 games, and Konecny only with six. It’s also surprising to see especially Couturier, not driving play at an elite level. He’s sitting at just 49.64% in the early going, and sure it’s a small sample size, but it’s discouraging nonetheless.

9. Turtle or no turtle?

The Flyers may not have exactly turtled in the third period, as in went full out Dave Hakstol is playing for just the point and the point alone turtle, but they certainly were playing safe. The team was making less and less efforts to carry the puck in, and simply get the quick line changes via getting the puck deep. I don’t necessarily hate the dump and chase late in games with the lead, but it has to actually involve the second part, the chase. The Flyers were attempting to get the puck and they ended up doing that a decent bit, so it wasn’t a complete turtle job in the third, but I hardly consider that trying to win instead of playing for the point.

This all falls on coaching, and a mindset that is not all about winning which at the end of the day is just ludicrous. And how Hakstol thinks he can pull this kind of style with the lead, against a team with Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns as their top two defensemen, is beyond me.

10. What the actual hell was that overtime?

So OT starts and I think at that point we’re all just kinda happy they got a point and hoping some magic can happen with the Flyers top 3-on-3 unit and ... oh ... oh the game’s over, swell.

Logan Couture absolutely torched Voracek, Gostisbehere was doing ... well, he was doing something back there, and it’s a goal for the Sharks just 13 seconds into the overtime. This was just an embarrassing moment for a three man unit that has produced some absolute wizardry in these overtimes. Voracek somehow loses a foot race and puck battle, one of which he typically wins, and Gostisbehere played the 2-on-1 about as bad as one can. Watching live, it seemed Ghost had the time to come up and play that puck to avoid a foot race. After watching that play back it definitely seems Ghost had the time. Whether it was miscommunication on what Ghost’s job was there, or simply indecisiveness on his part, it was ugly and cost the Flyers. Mistakes are going to happen, but that one was just frustrating on so many levels.