Look we all saw what happened last night, so let’s dive right into what we learned in the Flyers’ latest defeat: a 6-5 overtime loss in Calgary.
Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory
Any time you turn a two-goal lead with two minutes left in regulation into an overtime loss there are many concerns. But for the Flyers, the collapse didn’t even seem all that surprising given how they skated after grabbing that lead off Sean Couturier’s shorthanded goal.
After Couturier gave them what should have been put-away goal, the Flyers sagged back in their own zone and welcomed the Flames’ onslaught. They left Anthony Stolarz, who kept them in the game earlier with some marvelous goaltending, out on an island to fend for himself.
Even after a few awful penalties and the ice tilted towards their own zone, the Flyers had numerous chances to get clears and stop the bleeding. They couldn’t get enough pucks out and didn’t win enough puck battles and that’s the reason they turned what should have been a sure two points into one measly loser point.
Many happy Couturier returns
As far as silver linings in the deflating loss, one has to be the return of Sean Couturier from injury. The pivot tallied two goals and an assist in the losing cause, potting what looked to be an insurance shorthanded goal to give the Flyers a then 5-3 lead in the second half of the third period.
Sean "should have won the Selke" Couturier strikes shorthanded. pic.twitter.com/5svPEDs4cz— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 13, 2018
Couturier also crashed the net for a goal and setup James van Riemsdyk for a power play goal in the Flyers’ second period barrage while leading all forwards with over 26 minutes of ice-time.
Defensive coverage issues persist
Odd sequence on the Flames’ opening goal of the game when Travis Sanheim went awkwardly into the boards and limped his way to the bench. Sanheim couldn’t get off the ice very fast and it gave the Flames a chance to setup in the offensive zone. Chaos ensued and ended with Sam Bennett jamming a centering pass on the doorstep as the Flyers were all discombobulated.
But Bennett can thank both Shayne Gostisbehere and Robert Hagg for one of the easiest goals he’ll score in his career. Ghost was beat behind the net by Matthew Tkachuk and then Hagg somehow couldn’t locate Bennett crashing the Flyers’ cage. The Flyers weren’t playing all that bad of a period until that point, but a bad couple minutes started with a freak play and ended with a deficit on the scoreboard.
Coverage issues didn’t exactly dry up later on in this one, either, with Andrew MacDonald losing Sean Monahan right in front of the Flyers net with seven seconds left to tie things at 5-5 and complete the collapse. MacDonald got caught watching the puck for a split second and got burned when Stolarz couldn’t corral the initial shot and Monahan was free just long enough.
Stolarz left out to dry
In the end the numbers won’t look great (35 saves on 41 shots, .854 save percentage), but Anthony Stolarz was not the reason the Flyers lost last night.
He was left out to dry by his defense on the Bennett goal but was excellent before that, staying on top of his crease and controlling what rebounds chances there were. He was particularly good after the Bennett goal as the Flyers sagged a bit in front of him (shocker) and while protecting a one-goal lead early in the third, bailing out Wayne Simmonds and his really dumb penalty by robbing Sean Monahan. He actually stoned Monahan again after Simmonds’ penalty expired from the same spot out in the slot as the Flames really turned up the pressure.
Stolarz robs Sean Monahan and Wayne Simmonds gives him a little stick tap from the penalty box pic.twitter.com/sWzsAV2vz6— Brandon Murphy (@2Murphy8) December 13, 2018
But the mass of zone time and shots for the Flames started to pile up on Stolarz and the team in front of him mostly. Late in the third was basically a shooting gallery on the young netminder and things unraveled quickly.
Rasmus Andersson got things started with a point blast through a bit of traffic, but then Monahan jumped on a juicy rebound of Stolarz’ pads. Sure, a box out of Monahan by MacDonald would have been nice, but the large rebound was an untimely one from Stolarz for sure. Gaudreau’s overtime goal seemed inevitable given how the Flyers had blown the lead so late, and Stolarz was actually able to make a pair of great saves before finally succumbing to Johnny Hockey.
The Flyers’ netminder wasn’t perfect, but he deserved a better fate than he got in this one after he watched his team get outshot 41-19.
Travis Sanheim, offensive dynamo
Another game and another great play from Sanheim, who thankfully wasn’t any worse for wear after being in some sort of discomfort earlier in the game.
The young defender flew down the left wing early in the second period, took a quick pass from Claude Giroux, and went forehand to backhand to beat Mike Smith. If it looked familiar it’s because it should, as Sanheim has hopped up in the play a bunch lately and has been rewarded with three goals in his last four games.
Sanheim ties the game! pic.twitter.com/H4Oozwdip1— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 13, 2018
What hurt Sanheim in this one was the slew of Flyers penalties that held down some of his ice time. He played just 10:28 in the end, but giving up six penalties will limit the amount of time Sanheim has to produce given his lack of a role on the penalty kill.
They’re bad boys, Brent
Too many penalties, and bad ones like two offensive zone calls on Scott Laughton and Michael Raffl. Then the bad frustration penalties like Shayne Gostisbehere and Wayne Simmonds. All of them were dumb and avoidable in every case, and all four are veterans and have to know better, especially with their team ahead.
There usually aren’t many good times to take penalties, and the Flyers just kept taking them in this game and paid the price in the end.
More special teams issues!
Wow, where to start here. First as mentioned above the Flyers just can’t take that many bad penalties and live to tell about it, especially against a team with a real solid power play (12th overall).
They only allowed the one goal, and while Couturier’s shorty did even out the goal they gave up, the parade to the box ruined the game flow for the Flyers in the third and they never got in a rhythm. The shorthanded time sapped playing time for guys who have been playing well in recent games (JVR, Sanheim) and allowed the Flames to grab the momentum down the stretch.
As for the power play, Mark Giordano made it back-to-back games allowing shorthanded goals, although JVR did end the Flyers’ eight-game drought on the power play. It’s nice to see the Flyers get some production from the power play that hasn’t been truly terrible, just a little unlucky in recent games. Hopefully it’s the start of one of those runs where the Flyers pickup power play goals in bunches.