The Flyers have not had a good road-trip lately. No one is having fun, least of all myself, and yet I am still here, sacrificing my Saturday night. Why? Is it a fool’s errand to love this team? Do I accomplish anything with this love? In the wise words of my favorite poet, Richard Siken, “What does all this love amount to?” What, indeed, Richard.
Well, I will tell you. The love amounts to rumblings.
Back at it again with a late-night game, the Flyers did what the Flyers do best: they squandered every opportunity, and looked beautiful doing it. Like an elegant disaster. A slow-motion car crash for a blockbuster film, swelling music in the background, the works. It was almost moving to witness. My God, they sucked, and they did it so well. I’ll love these wonderful idiots until I die.
Despite keeping an edge in shots (31-24), the good orange boys just didn’t look inspired. Recommended listening for this article: Enya’s “Only Time.”
Gotta wonder what Chuck is contemplating. pic.twitter.com/2yusuT5Cpy— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 16, 2018
The first period kept it interesting from the start with Nolan Patrick, enjoying his return to the second line, having a solid scoring chance right away. He tried to go five-hole on Jacob Markstrom but couldn’t quite get it; almost immediately following this, a good look from the second line nearly resulted in a goal as well. The Flyers looked sharp from the get-go. It was not meant to last.
A delayed penalty on the Flyers would be the first nail in their metaphorical coffin. Chris Tanev, scoring his first goal in 69 (nice) games, would put the Canucks on the board first at 4:13. That was their first shot of the period. God, I love it.
Tanev's first goal in over a year makes it 1-0 Vancouver. pic.twitter.com/gJFsmKd4aW— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 16, 2018
Did anyone demand chaos? Hellfire? Demand it no more. The Flyers would soon go down by another goal, this time scored by Louis Eriksson at 8:09.
This is gonna get ugly, isn't it? pic.twitter.com/XmdoRfgTqD— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 16, 2018
This was the final straw for Dave Hakstol, who pulled Anthony Stolarz and put Alex Lyon in to relieve him. This was probably a good move. Also too little, too late, etc.
*DJ Khaled voice* Another one.
A mess of activity in front of the Flyers net resulted in a goal at 11:12, how shocking! Josh Leivo would get credit for this one, though it was mostly an own goal. Wow, we suck! We suck so bad. Do you feel the rumbling underneath your feet? The impending earthquake? The fissure opening up beneath your home?
Yeah, an own goal feels about right. pic.twitter.com/XR3NvkJTH8— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 16, 2018
A slashing call on Troy Stecher at 14:04 sent the Flyers to their first power play of the night. Our 29th-ranked power play gets right to work and wow! I was surely waiting with bated breath to see how this went. I definitely did not spend these two minutes plucking my eyebrows and glancing over periodically to frown. They did not score. They did not even get a shot off.
A highlight-reel type of moment from Scott Laughton (who has been consistently pretty good) on the rush put the Flyers on the board at 16:29.
Scott Laughton with one for the highlight reels. pic.twitter.com/JbXJZyhiz4— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 16, 2018
What an effort by my man Scott to keep the Flyers slight above water. That goal was the door that Jack and Rose floated on in the Titanic: that is to say, “not quite enough to help.”
AFTER ONE: 3-1 Canucks, shots 10-8 Flyers
Sort of like an eerie repeat of the first period, the Flyers came out in the second looking like the stronger team, putting plenty of pressure on the Canucks in their zone and even drawing a penalty. In theory, a power play is good, but perhaps only in theory.
I’d finished plucking my eyebrows already, so for this power play I simply sat, unimpressed, and stared at the wall, something quite comparable to what the Flyers did on this power play. The Flyers struggled communicating here, passes were missed or thrown in the wrong places, and the closest thing we got to a goal was a shot by Sean Couturier that just couldn’t go in.
A chance by Michael Raffl saw Markstrom come way out of his net to play the puck, and the silly collision that followed felt about appropriate. No goal for the good guys, but they looked pretty funny not-scoring, and sometimes that’s all that matters.
A long stretch of play went by without a whistle, during which the Flyers ranged from not-great, passable, and pretty okay. Were any of these efforts enough to score? Certainly not. Don’t ask questions you don’t want the answers to, fella.
A goal from Brock Boeser, who has one of my favorite white guy hockey names, would dig a deeper hole for the Flyers at 12:07. It’s excellent to be witness to such stunning mediocrity. 4-1 Canucks.
The rest of the period would be rather uneventful. The Flyers did have some offensive energy here, but it just didn’t look to be enough; they lacked completion, rarely looked composed, and even when they looked close to scoring, you could feel deep within your bones, right down to the marrow, that they weren’t actually going to do it.
What does all this love amount to?
AFTER TWO: 4-1 Canucks, shots 18-15 Flyers
Time to take this one home, guys.
The Flyers would gift the Canucks their first power play of the game (not including the delayed call earlier) in the form of a high-sticking call on Sean Couturier at 2:03. The penalty kill (fart noises) got to work. Not the worst effort, and even good enough to avoid a goal against and get a couple shorthanded chances from Laughton. Hey, positives.
Not for nothing, the Flyers did continue to get some scoring chances; with varying levels of success, they had managed to get plenty of pucks on Markstrom all throughout the night. At about the halfway mark through the third period, however, it just looked like the writing was on the wall. We knew how this game was going to go.
I know I occasionally have a flare for the dramatic. I may say things like “this game made me wish death upon myself and my family” and you may be thinking to yourself that I should really shut up sometimes. That is fair. I tell myself to shut up all the time. But I truly mean it when I say that from somewhere in my soul, this song began to play, and I can only take it as a sign from some kind of benevolent higher power.
What was I saying?
Tyler Motte would be sent to the box for slashing at 8:23, giving the Flyers another man advantage. The effort here looked slightly (I mean, come on) better than some of the other opportunities from earlier in the game, but as with most things with the Flyers, it was squandered. A highly frustrated Couturier was called for slashing at 9:58, cutting the power play to a minute and a half, and forcing us to watch another penalty kill.
Flipping the script on us slightly, the penalty kill tonight actually wasn’t so dreadful. They love to surprise us, these guys, haha. The Flyers even managed a shorthanded opportunity here, with Michael Raffl just failing on the finish.
Another power play? Well, sure. Jay Beagle was sent to the box for holding at 13:15. Let the rally begin!!!
They gave up a shorthanded opportunity, they couldn’t grab a goal here, etcetera, etcetera. I’m jealous of anyone who has already gone to bed. But wait, we got a little weird here, folks. Dave Hakstol pulled the goalie with over five minutes left in the third! What is this madness? The work of a desperate man? I’m enchanted.
Lyon stones Motte on the shorthanded chance. pic.twitter.com/XklHDfwux2— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 16, 2018
Obviously, because it is the Flyers, this did not go the way Hakstol was surely hoping. Michael Granlund scored an empty net goal at 15:29. Victorious by Panic! at the Disco began to play in the arena. Something in my stomach fluttered, a caged bird.
AFTER THREE: 5-1 Canucks, shots 31-24 Flyers