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Predators 4, Flyers 0: New year, same Flyers

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What did we expect?

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

We’re back again, friends! After, uh, not even a whole day, we’re back with hockey action, but this time it’s the 2019 edition. New year, new me? Er… new Flyers? Let’s hope so. yesterday was bad.

The Flyers, having lacked in energy in last night’s game in Carolina, came out with decidedly more jump, jump that was also matched by the Predators, despite them also being on the back end of a back-to-back. It was an even start, as both sides were taking their turns rushing up ice to create a chance, while the other broke it up. There was some pace going on, and let’s be honest, it was a lot more fun than the start to the last meeting with the Predators.

And, we should also note that all this speed that we’re getting to see early on is also happening due to the general lack of whistles coming in the early goings. We had a stretch of under a minute where three separate players were tripped or hit late, and no call came from it. So maybe it’s just going to be One Of Those Games. Hopefully things don’t get out of hand.

The Predators had a perhaps their best chance of the night about eight minutes into the period, when an initial shot by Ryan Johansen was blocked by Michal Neuvirth but not smothered, and ended up bouncing around in the crease as players chipped away and Neuvirth sprawled. The Predators got a couple of cracks at it, but Travis Sanheim was able to sweep in and clear the puck out, negating the danger and getting things moving out of the zone.

But this seemed to be the beginnings of Nashville working to build some momentum, as the next few minutes saw them steadily picking up more sustained offensive zone time, and catching the Flyers sitting back a little bit. But Neuvirth and their defense came up big for them, while getting a bit of help from the Predators’ struggle to string together a couple of clean passes, so they were able to weather the storm and keep things scoreless.

The last few minutes of the period saw the Flyers getting back to looking more settled, and working well to pull momentum back in their favor. It took a bit of zone time of their own, and then one really great chance for Ivan Provorov on the rush that Jusse Saros just robbed him in, but they got themselves back on track. But, unfortunately, just in time for the first intermission.

AFTER ONE: Flyers 0, Predators 0

Was the first period pace not good enough for you? Well it looks like the Flyers had you covered. After a false draw and subsequent do over, they gained control of the puck and started a rush into the offensive zone, and, in aggressive Flyers fashion, that rush saw Travis Konecny with a great chance that rang off the post.

But the Predators came right back at them with some push of their own. After Simmonds lost an edge at Nashville’s blue line, the Predators started off on a four-on-two. It was sort of broken up into a three-on-two, but the danger wasn’t completely quelled, and it was a laser from Craig Smith that beat Neuvirth.

Since we’re talking about response, the Flyers had a good one! Mere moments later, the Flyers had their own chance on the rush, but couldn’t get it done. The good news, though, is that they were able to draw an interference penalty from P.K. Subban, and the Flyers got the first power play of the night.

It started off well enough for them, with a chance for Jake Voracek that hit the post, and then another that was blocked in front, but the first unit was able to generate a bit of pressure. The same can’t really be said for the second unit, as they spent more time in their own end defending against a shorthanded chance than they did producing any offense. The first unit got out there with about six seconds to go on the penalty, and were able to create on more chance—this time from Claude Giroux—but Saros again stopped them. And the power play expired.

The Predators claimed back momentum after that kill and the Flyers were stuck having to defend. They were saved from falling deeper into a hole by the post and a bit of excellent defensive work by a sprawling Shayne Gostisbehere in the crease, clearing the puck out to the outside (before taking it to the face seconds later). He’s fine, it seems, not to worry. And the whistle gave the Flyers a chance to catch their breath a bit.

The Flyers were able to generate a bit more pressure for themselves, but it would be the Predators who struck next. They took advantage of the forwards cheating and sitting a little high in the zone, Andrew MacDonald being nowhere to be found, and Sanehim left alone to cover the crease. So when it was Johansen feeding the puck across the crease to Victor Arvidsson, he was all alone to tuck it past Neuvirth, trying to move post to post.

The Flyers’ next best chance to close the gap came just inside five minutes to go in the period, as Kevin Fiala tripped up a Flyer and gave them a chance on the delayed penalty to get the goalie pulled and the extra skater out. They got a chance for Gostisbehere off and Saros stopped it, drawing the whistle and the start to the power play, proper. It was the same story as the first attempt—a couple of chances for the top unit and not a whole lot for the second. And then when the penalty expired… things just spiral into absolute chaos.

In the waning minute of the period, Nashville kept pressuring and Neuvirth had to make yet another big save, and they hit the second intermission with no further change in scoring.

AFTER TWO: Predators 2, Flyers 0

And we’re back for the third period and the Flyers are looking to buckle down and work towards a comeba—oh and that’s a penalty on the Flyers. Michael Raffl’s going off for interference and the Predators are heading to the power play. It was, all told, a pretty quiet attempt for the Predators, as the Flyers did well to pursue the puck and keep the Predators tied up. Not much of consequence happening. And we’ll take that. penalty killed.

Things quieted down some from there, until they didn’t. We had a chance on the rush for Simmonds that Saros robbed him on. Them Provorov laid a huge hit on Kevin Fiala. And then Arvidsson came back with a chance on the rush of his own, and he didn’t miss. And the Predators’ lead was extended to three.

Is anyone still here? Are we still reading this thing? It only gets worse. The Flyers were actually able to generate a bit of pressure but because life is still a joke a new calendar year cannot change that, the next mistake they made burned them—in this case, a turnover in the offensive zone turned into a rush the other way and a goal for Rocco Grimaldi on a feed from Zac Rinaldo. And we really don’t have any more words about that.

Time’s winding down and we’re keeping with the back and forth, and the Flyers are still getting a handful of chances, but nothing terribly flashy, and nothing that seems to be able to beat Saros. And if they were looking to put just one up on the board before the final buzzer, well, that was going to be even harder, as Raffl went to the box for holding with just under two minutes left in regulation, sending the Predators to the power play. They were working to open up Arvidsson for a chance at the hat trick, but the Flyers kept them frustrated. No hat trick. No Flyer goals. Time to go home.

FINAL: Predators 4, Flyers 0