Much of the opening minutes in this one featured a typical game vs. a Ken Hitchcock coached team. Tight checking and not a lot of high quality scoring chances dominated the start tonight, although the Flyers contributed to this with a touch of over passing. Wayne Simmonds had a chance to dart to the net or simply skate in and take a shot, but chose to pass to Jakub Voracek. Later, around the halfway mark of the period, Travis Konecny had a seemingly good chance on a cross ice one timer, but attempted a pass to the net front that was knocked down.
In the first half of the frame, Sean Couturier’s line and the Flyers defense did a solid job of defending Oilers super star Connor McDavid. The best player in the world would however get a dangerous chance off of an Andrew MacDonald turnover behind the goal line, but Anthony Stolarz was up to the task.
The Oilers would strike first — a shocker, I know — off of a goal by Alex Chiasson, who is loving life playing with McDavid. Both MacDonald and Ivan Provorov were battling along the boards, and Chiasson was left alone in front of Stolarz. The power forward scored his 14th of the season, already a career high in the month of December.
After a hooking call on Oilers defenseman Jason Garrison, the Flyers would head to the game’s first power play. Despite getting this opportunity, as expected, the power play would fail to generate much of anything and fail to capitalize.
Edmonton would get another excellent opportunity to take control of the game after a Claude Giroux ... well they called it a slash but as far as I know that was not really a slash! The Flyers penalty kill would come up large however and keep the game 1-0, which is how the period would end. Overall, a decent first period especially in regards to containing McDavid.
Gameflow/heatmap after first period
At the 3:25 mark, Drake Caggiula would give the Flyers a fantastic opportunity opening up the second period with a high stick on Oskar Lindblom that drew blood, resulting in a double minor. Most teams would look at that chance and blast away for four minutes, given luck would probably be on their side at some point. But the Flyers are not like most teams, instead, they proceeded to pass the puck continuously and make life all too easy for Mikko Koskinen.
Ian Laperriere’s failure at coaching the penalty kill is obvious, but how Kris Knoblauch has managed to turn one of the most successful power plays in the decade into ... whatever the hell this has been ... is beyond me.
Shortly thereafter, Wayne Simmonds would pick up an unsportsmanlike penalty for arguing he was held. If you missed tonight’s game and are reading this wondering what he did to get the penalty, sit back and enjoy.
Hey there Wayne, you good or nah? pic.twitter.com/XDkAm5Fje2— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 15, 2018
Thankfully for the orange and black, the penalty kill was up to the task yet again and held the high powered Oilers attack at bay, keeping the score 1-0. In addition to the PK coming up big, Anthony Stolarz was as well. On a low slot shot by former fourth overall pick Jesse Puljujarvi, Stolarz stopped him point blank then stopped the rebound attempt by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Then, Connor McDavid went into overdrive. He outworked Shayne Gostisbehere for the puck in the corner, it popped out to Leon Draisaitl who was stopped by Stolarz on a circus shot, then McDavid banked the puck of Stolarz skate and in the net for a 2-0 lead. The star power of the Oilers was just too much for the Flyers on this play.
The game began to get out hand at this point, as the failure to win any kind of board battles resulted in a give-and-go between Adam Larsson the eventual goal scorer, and Ryan Spooner. Larsson shot through a screen (imagine that, screening the goalie on shots, wild concept!), and it beat Stolarz low glove. One would think with how many times the Flyers have been scored on because of traffic in front of their goalie, they’d try that a little bit more on offense. Alas, 3-0 Oilers.
The Flyers would get another power play, but as expected it went for naught and they barely even made it interesting. Remember when this team was always at the very least good on the power play? Fun times.
The period would end with Edmonton still up by three, and the Flyers looking to do quite literally anything to get back in the game.
Gameflow/heatmap after second period
The third and final period began with some new line combinations. Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim became a defense pair, and Nolan Patrick was on a line with Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny. At this point Dave Hakstol had clearly gone into desperation mode and was just looking for anything to get the team going, which, is hard to fault down 3-0 with your job on the line.
It was truly difficult to stay awake for much of this period but at the halfway mark Jakub Voracek received a pass after some nice offensive zone pressure, and blasted the puck that deflected off Sean Couturier to beat Koskinen. Couturier had done a solid job of shutting McDavid down all night long, and got a bit of a lucky goal in reward.
Couturier redirects Voracek's shot in.— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 15, 2018
They have (some) life, folks. pic.twitter.com/mU0PFBwA3u
Other than the goal, quite possibly the best moment from this period was this gem of a sign in the stands in Edmonton. Whoever this is, we salute you.
A hero all the way in Edmonton. pic.twitter.com/FIdaqMNXuT— Brad Keffer (@brad_keffer) December 15, 2018
With 3:32 remaining in regulation, Puljujarvi would take a hooking penalty on Couturier, sending the Flyers back to the power play in a last ditch effort to get back in the game. Although this seemingly would have been a good time to pull Stolarz, Dave Hakstol must have been daydreaming about wake boarding because Stolarz remained in the net until about 1:30 left in the game.
Speaking of daydreaming, the Flyers players must have been as well as sloppiness breaking the puck out and missed passes lead to a McDavid empty netter sealing the win for Edmonton. This is probably the fifth or sixth one of these already this year, but this feels like a “fire the coach” kind of game, doesn’t it?