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The Flyers weak defensive depth was on display last night

Something has to change eventually.

Kate Frese / SB Nation

It’s been known for a while now, but the Flyers’ defensive problems were blatantly obvious in last night’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins scored three 5-on-5 goals last night, all three of which were scored while Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere were on the bench, and defensive mistakes were to blame.

When the first goal is scored, Andrew MacDonald and Robert Hagg are battling for position in front of the net, but end up screening Petr Mrazek more than anything else.

I’m not expecting MacDonald to win a battle with Sidney Crosby. A loss for him there is the expected outcome. The problem with this play is that he cannot allow himself to get spun around and end up partially screening his own goaltender. Now, the puck going off of his leg and into the net can be chalked up to bad luck, but you’re playing with fire getting caught in that position.

Look, I’m no expert, but I don’t think this is the position you want to be in when a shot is being taken.

On Conor Sheary’s first goal, I get it, odd-man rushes are hard to defend, but how many times are we going to see MacDonald try, and fail, to disrupt the chance with this exact play? I don’t think the “wave the stick a few times and then lay down” strategy is working, and maybe it’s time to try something else.

When facing a 2-on-1 situation you generally want to do one of two things. You either take away the passing lane or take away the shooting lane. In this case, MacDonald does neither. By the time he commits to taking the passing lane away, Crosby has already decided to shoot the puck. What wasn’t shown in the video was a poorly timed pinch made by Hagg that is just as much to blame for the goal. All three forwards were well behind the net at the time of the pinch, leaving no chance for a forward to fill in on defense in the event that something went wrong.

On Sheary’s second goal, let’s make it clear that this goal doesn’t happen if Travis Konecny doesn’t lose the puck to Oleksiak. However, why Brandon Manning ends up defending at the blue line was a result of a poor decision to take an unnecessary risk.

I’m someone who likes a risk, however, it should be a calculated risk. If you pause the video when the puck gets near Konecny you can see that Manning is looking that way and can clearly see this is an, as they say, 50/50 puck. It’s contested, this isn’t an easy-out for Konecny. Manning continues up the ice anyway, ahead of center Valtteri Filppula, and once he gets caught, the Flyers have just one player below the hash marks and Sheary is left wide open. The puck deflecting off Manning directly to Sheary is bad luck, but his decision to move up the ice in this scenario was a recipe for disaster.

Mistakes like these have been happening all season, but last night they were the direct cause of every even strength goal against. With the trade deadline behind us and a call-up feeling unlikely, it seems that the Flyers current defensive corps will remain the same as they make their final push towards the playoffs.