What a great day! The Eagles’ parade was glorious and the Flyers were able to pick up a win! It wasn’t exactly their prettiest win, but there was a lot to like. Let’s dig into what we learned.
1. Watching reruns
Theory: everyone was too tired from the parade to want to watch or play this game, so they just put on a rebroadcast of another game with the Canadiens’ jerseys superimposed on whatever opponent was actually on the ice.
In all seriousness, it sure felt like we got a bit of deja vu last night, huh? From the start, the Flyers got sucked into that old trend of the slow starts and getting stuck in the neutral zone. The early part of the game, the first twenty minutes, saw a lot of motion back and forth, a fair bit of speed, but not much of consequence. Plays were forming but were promptly broken up, so we were without too much high-activity. As such, it wasn’t much of a surprise when we went into the first intermission with zero points on the board. And while this is a testament to the defensive work they were doing early to shut down a speedy Montreal team, it also points to an offensive issue that isn’t going away. The Habs put in solid defensive work of their own, to be sure, but the Flyers are getting caught early in games more and more, and have yet to find a way to get going sooner and break through this type of tight defending.
2. A bit of a mixed bag for the power play
We’ve been talking a lot about the special teams units recently, and with good reason--they’ve been undeniably volatile, and struggling to find a level of consistency from game to game. It’s something we’ve honed in on, and we’re starting to see the results.
The good: The Flyers went two for four on their power play chances tonight, with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek picking up the goals. And it’s not just that they were finally able get some goals on the power play, but that they were able to make them happen when they really needed them.
The bad: Voracek getting stripped of the puck led to the Habs’ shorthanded goal. It’s an unfortunate byproduct of the style of the power play, but oh man was it ugly.
More good: the second unit was actually able to do something. They’ve been effectively tied up and struggled to get set up in the first place, but they were able to break out of this last night. The highlight: Nolan Patrick getting a quality chance on their first attempt from Wayne Simmonds’ office. It wouldn’t quite go, but it was a gesture to the potential he has, should he remain in this place on the unit.
3. The third line
It was a bit of a surprise this afternoon. Coming in amidst the excitement about the Eagles parade was more than a fair bit of online grumbling about this newly arranged third line of Jori Lehtera, Valterri Filppula, and Dale Weise. We figured things would be ugly for them, that they’d find themselves a step behind the other three lines. But this didn’t quite wind up being the case.
By the numbers, it was a decent showing for this line. The trio averaged an adjusted CF% of 45.44 percent at 5-on-5, which isn’t exactly a stellar figure in and of itself, but it’s one that is just about middling, relative to their teammates. The drawback, however, comes with the eye test, as the line just looked plain slow on the ice and not particularly threatening, as was more or less expected. It will be interesting, then, to see if this line remains together as we head into the back-to-back this weekend, to see how much of what he saw that Dave Hakstol liked.
4. Michael Raffl deserved more
Raffl, despite not being able to put any points up on the board last night, was undeniably one of the most noticeable players on the ice. He picked up three shots on goal, putting him second among all players at 5-on-5. And oh boy were those shots pretty.
He picked up two of them on one extended shift at around the 14 minute mark of the first period, where he and his linemates were rushing into the zone and working to get set up and sustain some pressure. He was working well to generate chances in close--registering .90 xG at 5-on-5 in the process--but it just seemed like he couldn’t buy a lucky bounce to help close things off. But, despite these lack of results, the process was solid, as it has been, and one gets the impression that things will start to break again for Raffl sooner rather than later.
5. Rose colored boy
So, we should talk about Nolan Patrick. Having a look early in the game, it looked like it might be another solid game for him. He was again flexing speed, and helped foster the Flyers’ first scoring chance of the game. He looked good. Then, things took a turn.
He took the holding penalty. He looked a little unsettled, struggling defensively. His whole line was getting pretty well thrashed from a shots perspective--Patrick himself averaged a 31.68 adjusted CF% at 5-on-5--before they were ultimately broken up for the third period, with Patrick sent down to center the third line. After the game, Hakstol noted that this was more “match-up related,” but one can’t avoid the feeling that there was a level of punishment at work for the penalty taken and for being on the ice for a goal against. But, all in all, it wasn’t exactly a banner night for Patrick, but it’s perhaps one that we’re perhaps willing to forgive, given his rookie status. But we’ll also need to see him find a way to bounce back on Saturday against Arizona.
That’s right. We pointed to it already, and you already know, but it was a downright turnover party for the Flyers last night. There was the ugliest one, that led to Lehkonen’s shorthanded goal, but it was hardly an anomaly. The Flyers allowed for another breakout while on the power play, as well, but were plagued by turnovers throughout the game, in all situations. When we saw them struggling to create sustained offensive pressure, this was largely the culprit. Whether it was slowness in developing plays that led to them being read and pucks intercepted, or just plain inaccurate passing, it was the Flyers shooting themselves in the foot through much of the evening. And, sure, one could argue that it doesn’t matter much, given the result of the game, but it’s an issue that has and continues to plague them. And they need to find a way to clean it up.
7. Okay, we see ya, Travis
Do we need to say it again? It was another big night for Travis Konecny. He came out of the gate with speed, as we’ve seen him doing, and immediately established himself as one of the most noticeable players on the ice.
And, of course, we have to talk about the two goals. The first was the kind of effort we’ve seen but never grow tired of seeing, as he connected with Giroux on a precise cross-ice pass (on of the relative few we saw through this game) and used his speed to bring the puck in even closer on net, and knock it past Carey Price. But it was the second goal that was even more impressive, where, as play scrambled on in front of the net, he read the play and watched the official’s reaction, and made the heads up call to get behind Price to tap the loose puck over the line. And it was this show of thinking the game quickly and at a high level that bodes so well for the future, a flash of a solid skill being flexed.
So, in short, he continues to look solid, continues to improve, and doesn’t show signs of slowing down anytime soon.
8. The bees are back in town
I’m never letting go of this joke. I’m not sorry about it.
We said it on Saturday, when the Honey Bees were back together on home ice, but promoted to a third line role. But now they’re back at home (with the change of Raffl being swapped in for Taylor Leier) and back in their old fourth line place. And, would you look at that, we’re looking like we’re repeating their early-season form.
In short, they were the single most productive line on the ice, from a shot-based perspective. At 5-on-5, the trio put up seven combined shots and averaged an adjusted CF% of 81.94 percent. The three were connecting well, as we’ve seen them do in the earlier part of the season, and were quickly able to find a balance between speed and offensive production and defensive responsibility. They looked as good as ever, and all that’s left to wonder is why they were related to receiving fourth line minutes, in the first place. It’s a line that’s proven that they can hold up, and stand to make a jump in production, if given the proper opportunity.
9. Matching up
We touched on this a bit above, as well, but we should circle back and note that the Flyers really kind of stole this one.
They averaged an adjusted CF% of 45.91 at 5-on-5 through the whole of the game, and fell behind in unblocked shots, as the Canadiens led then 42-35 in all situations. With the exception of the Honey Bees, the Flyers found themselves getting largely outshot and outchanced through this game. What proved to be working most in their favor, then, was Brian Elliott’s performance and their own ability to convert on the chances they were getting (paired with the fact that Price looked a little shaky). You can’t argue with the results, of course, but it’s not an underlying process that you want to see become the norm, to see them falling back on. And it’s another area that they’ll have to work on tightening up, as the season goes on and the playoff race heats up.
10. The only damn thing I know
Remember that time Jonathan Drouin took his pants off on the bench during a game? That was pretty weird and funny.
I could put a joke here about how the Flyers pantsed the Canadiens in this one, but I’ll leave that to you guys. But it’s just ripe for the taking.