Three in a row, baby! The Flyers finally got to take on someone else besides the New York Islanders this preseason, and they delivered with a 6-4 victory over the New York Rangers in MSG. Don’t worry though, they play the Islanders later tonight because you know, of course they do. Anyway, let’s talk about the good and the bad from the Flyers third consecutive win in the preseason.
Stats/graphics courtesy of Hockeyviz and Natural Stat Trick
1. The Twarynski/Weal/Aube-Kubel line was on fire
Two kids trying their damndest to make the hockey team, and Jordan Weal looking to earn a third line center spot. Carsen Twarynski was all over the puck all night long - strong on the forecheck, active stick - he was everywhere last night. Although he took a less-than-ideal penalty late in the game, it was overall a very impressive night for the 2016 third round pick. The same can be said for Weal and Aube-Kubel, as Weal ended up posting the best score and venue adjusted CF% at 5-on-5 at 85, and NAK was third at 76.35%. As you probably guessed by now, second was Twarysnki. Down the road, this could end up being a very good 3rd or 4th line for the Flyers one day if Twarynski and Aube-Kubel continue to grow. The forechecking ability of this line makes it a perfect bottom six trio, and their styles mesh very well together.
2. Robert Hagg had a rough night
Scratch that, rough night is being too generous, it was a disastrous night for Hagg. On multiple occasions, Hagg fumbled the puck on numerous plays and simply struggled to break the puck out. There was a play in particular where Philippe Myers banked the puck back to Hagg to start a breakout. At that point, Hagg could have skated around the net or at the very least banked the puck up the boards. Instead, he pulled a NHL 14 computer AI and pinned himself along the boards, basically handing the puck to the Rangers. He posted the second worst score & venue adjusted CF%, and just looked out of place all game long. The bright side, it’s preseason and Hagg still has time to work out the kinks. For right now though, it’s worrying to see him play like this, this close to the regular season.
3. Christian Folin looked...as expected
Speaking of Flyers defensemen struggling, let’s move on to one of the newest acquisitions in Christian Folin. Let’s just say he didn’t look great, folks! Folin did post very solid metrics, coming in at fifth best on the team in adjusted CF% at 73.51. Folin’s positioning, breakout passes, and shot selection were the main issues. Here we can see Folin getting absolutely scorched on a seemingly harmless play, leaving Yegor Zamula and Carter Hart hung out to dry.
Yeah, this was not optimal defense by Christian Folin. pic.twitter.com/q9qkCONNFL— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) September 20, 2018
Yeah I’m...I’m just not sure what he was trying to do there. Anyone got any thoughts? Moving on...
Folin’s possession numbers may have looked impressive originally, but after diving deeper and seeing where his shot attempts were coming from, it looks more like Radko Gudas 2.0.
There were a few instances where it was actually smart to take those point shots Folin was taking, but overall most of them resulted in easy saves for the goalie. Sure, we’re not expecting this guy to be a stud defenseman, but this is exactly the kind of guy we don’t want in the lineup over a Travis Sanheim, or even Phil Myers.
4. THE GERM INFECTS THE RANGERS
On a brighter note, German “The Germ” Rubtsov showed flashes that reminded us all why he was a first round pick. Rubtsov scored a goal in this one off of a beautiful one-time rocket that snuck by Henrik Lundqvist. Weal did a great job to tee it up for him, and Rubtsov made no mistake.
Destination unknown— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) September 20, 2018
Ruby ruby ruby RUBTSOV
5-3 Flyers! pic.twitter.com/bOkGr1Iwj3
There was another play where Rubtsov almost burned the entire Rangers defense to score a goal just shortly after his tally above, but sadly to no avail. Rubtsov posted a 56.91 adjusted CF, which albeit low considering how well the Flyers controlled the possession game, is still a solid showing. He’s most likely not going to make this roster, but for a guy who we keep waiting for to breakout, this is a good sign.
It was another solid showing for Mikhail Vorobyev, as one would expect at this point. The young centerman is making his case for making the Flyers each time he plays, and it’s a damn good one. His metrics weren’t great last night, but his work on the penalty kill and his late goal definitely help his cause. The more I see out of Vorobyev the more I see a perhaps less offensively gifted Sean Couturier.
He’s got the frame, he’s got the defensive ability, the question will be how well he can put his offensive game together at the NHL level. We know he has above average play-driving potential after his season last year with Lehigh Valley, if he can do that at the NHL, the Flyers have themselves quite a steal. Vorobyev also lead all forwards in TOI yet again, all signs indicate Ron Hextall and Co. really want this kid to make the team. And so far, he’s not letting them down.
6. Oskar Lindblom is ready to get the season going
He dominated the rookie game, and now has himself a two goal game vs. the Rangers. If there was any doubt if Lindblom would be making this team, I think we can put those concerns to rest. Lindblom’s two goals were beauties. He sneaked behind the defense on the first one, getting himself in perfect position for a tap in after a great behind the net pass from Corban Knight.
OSKAR! 1-0 Flyers! pic.twitter.com/5WZCBzC4rB— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) September 19, 2018
For his second, Lindblom pulled off a perfect snipe to beat Lundqvist. His shot is an underrated part of his game, and one that we may see on full display this season.
Oskar scores his 2nd of the night! 3-1 Flyers. pic.twitter.com/QpnJsldBDC— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) September 19, 2018
7. Carter Hart stood on his head
On Monday night, Hart wasn’t tested all that often, but when he was he looked every bit as good as he’s hyped to be. Last night, Hart was spectacular in stopping 25 out of 27 Rangers shots. The two goals he allowed being a great deflection by Mika Zibanejad that Hart stood no chance to stop, and the defensive breakdown by Folin. Other than those two goals, Hart looked perfect. His rebound control was much improved over his outing vs. NYI, and his positioning was stellar. Right before that goal off the deflection, Hart made a fantastic backdoor save, one that he made look all too easy. We’ve known since he was drafted that his biggest asset is his positioning, but I don’t know if any of us expected it to be that good.
Hart was also forced to make consecutive saves often in this one, and when he was, he was up to the task.
Carter Hart standing on his head pic.twitter.com/xbrXK8vY5Q— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) September 20, 2018
Folks, Carter Freakin' Hart. pic.twitter.com/roOLq47Bct— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) September 20, 2018
Needless to say, Carter Hart is making it very difficult on us to not want him on the opening night roster. This is the kind of performance that could maybe change Hextall’s strategy with him, but let’s be real, it’s still a massive longshot that Hart makes this team. And that’s not a bad thing, but boy does this kid look like the real deal.
8. Shot quality was good...sorta!
Shot quality has always been an issue with this team since Dave Hakstol took the reigns as Flyers head coach, but in this one the Flyers did a fairly good job of limiting point shots. Going back to the graphic shown earlier when discussing Folin, most of the shot attempts there are coming from the slot or directly in front of the net. There’s a good amount of attempts coming from the point, but a lot of those are coming from Radko Gudas - and Folin of course. So far this preseason it looks like they’re doing a much better job mixing in high quality shot attempts with the point shots.
My biggest issue with the point shots has always been the lack of traffic the Flyers generate on them, because in all honesty if there’s enough traffic, a point shot isn’t the worst idea. Regardless, the fact Dave Hakstol may appear to be trying more to work in more high danger chances is a good sign, and one that hopefully carries over to the regular season.
9. Everybody do the 3rd period turtle
Ah yes, my favorite style that Dave Hakstol brings to the table. The Flyers went into their usual 3rd period with the lead shell, and the Rangers took advantage. Hart bailed them out basically every time, but this is something that needs to change moving forward. They were outshot 18-3 in the 3rd period and were dominated in possession. Sure, a few penalties made it difficult on Hakstol to stay aggressive, as both Twarynski and Myers took some ill-advised penalties late. But overall the Flyers had the lead in the 3rd, and went way too conservative, a theme that plagued them and cost them valuable points all of last season.
10. That livestream was...something else
Can we just talk for a second about how bad that Rangers livestream was? I don’t want to trash it too much because I’m sure it’s primarily underappreciated interns or what have you running these preseason streams, but woof that was bad. Not to mention it was somehow extremely far behind some other streams running last night coming right from the MSG feed in New York. Remind me again why NBCSP isn’t streaming these?