They did it, folks! The Flyers have managed to string together two consecutive wins, for the first time *checks notes* this century? Wait, that can’t be right, but it’s been a long time. And it was against a Bruins team that’s given them a lot of trouble recently. There was a lot to like in this one; let’s dig right into it.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com
1. The power play
We had a feeling heading into this one that if they Flyers wanted to stand a chance at beat the Bruins, they would need to produce a good bit of offense, and they had a chance to do that early, with a power play awarded just 1:25 into the game. In the end though, it didn’t work out all that well for the Flyers, as the Bruins had their number, getting after the puck carrier, forcing turnovers, and actually keeping the Flyers tied up in their own end for a stretch of time. So no goal on that one.
We were worried, then, when the second power play (which would be split between the first and second periods) started to look similar, with the Flyers finding themselves chased out of the zone.
What a rush, what a goal! pic.twitter.com/1MttvPBhpf— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 17, 2019
But... maybe that was a good thing? Because that gave them the chance to do this, to set up for a rush and get themselves in position to score that pretty exciting goal. So the five forward power play does the thing again!
2. Killing penalties
We’re just going to dive right into this one, because we do this more or less chronologically and we only had to wait a few minute before we also got to see the Flyers’ penalty kill.
Indeed, we would see a lot of them last night, as the Bruins were awarded 11 minutes of power play time. It started out a little dicey, as they gave up a goal on their first attempt, but even that can’t be called so much a failing of the penalty kill as it can be Boston just executing perfectly, finding a seam through traffic and getting it to David Pastrnak for the one-timer. Would we have preferred that they didn’t give that up? Absolutely. But it’s a tough one to stop.
The good news is that later in the game, when they were pulling themselves back into it, the penalty kill came up big for them. They had nine more minutes to kill, including a five minute boarding penalty (though they did have some help on that one, with it being split between periods), and they were able to do so successfully. Nothing flashy, just keeping everybody moving and getting after the puck, forcing turnovers, and getting themselves clears. Nothing flashy, but highly effective.
3. Not a lot of words for this…
What a weird, weird first period. It saw things starting out relatively even, and then the Flyers had that power play where the Bruins really dominated, and then the Bruins had the power play where the Bruins really dominated, and scored a goal. And then they scored another goal. And the Flyers looked pretty out of sorts.
And then something happened. They collected their wits, bore down, and worked to exploit some of the space that the Bruins were leaving. They weren’t able to come back on the raw shots front, as they came out of the period trailing seven to 12 in this department, but they were able to regroup, didn’t start to wither when haven fallen behind, and rallied. And, with that rally, came a pretty nice payoff (but more on this… well, right about now. More on this now).
So that payoff? Pretty nice, we said? It’s true! So much so that we can’t even bring ourselves to change the ecstatic working section title. Anyway, let’s go to the tape.
Lindblom puts the Flyers on the board! pic.twitter.com/NL85UYA5J1— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 17, 2019
A a good keep by Travis Sanheim kept the play alive, and a perfect feed from Claude Giroux sprung Lindblom on the rush and he was away and in on Jaroslav Halak, and with one very good shot, had the Flyers back within one.
And we appreciate this bit of flash and are glad to see Lindblom haven broken his scoring drought, but this wasn’t the only good work he did on the night. He was active on the rush, putting up two shots and flexing—dare we say it?—a bit of speed. But where he really shone was on the penalty kill, as he proved disruptive and put on a good showing of his strength along the boards. In short? He put together a really complete game, and is really looking like he’s flourishing with an increased role, finding a way to kick things into next gear.
5. Sean Couturier, HELLO
We can’t really bury the lede on this one: Couturier had a hat trick last night and that’s the second hat trick in two games for the Flyers and also Couturier is very good at hockey and had himself a very good night. *deep breath*
Sean Couturier completes the hat trick! pic.twitter.com/et9AXYouAn— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 17, 2019
That’s just one of his goals (the third) and this one and the second that came from him taking part in what the Flyers had been doing well just about all evening—activating on the rush and crashing the net to put the biggest test on Halak. We saw it with Lindblom’s goal, and twice with Couturier. The other piece of smart work came into play on his first goal, as he parked himself in front and went hunting for redirects, again pushing for a more dangerous chance. His work elsewhere was solid as well—the defensive side of his game didn’t falter, and he was a big part of them killing all of those penalties that we talked about earlier—but, in a way, this is more or less what we’ve come to accept. But to see the scoring touch rear its head is objectively great, and, of course, lets him remind the national audience just how good this guy is.
6. Starter Hart
So, there really isn’t all that much we can say about Carter Hart other than *Owen Wilson voice* wow. He was very good last night, there’s no sense beating around the bush about it. We’ll be getting into some more of the numbers later on, ones to give you a full look at the workload he had, but we’ll stick to the old tried and true—he stopped 39 of the 42 total shots faced, and also had to face 12 high danger chances on the night. He wasn’t perfect, but what helped him was the fact that he and the team in front seemed to be on the same page. That is, even though his rebound control wasn’t perfect, the skaters were doing well to get themselves to the crease and clear pucks away, so it all worked out, in the end.
And, if we’re going to get a little sentimental, it was nice to see him have this big game, but even nicer to have it happen on a nationally broadcasted game. So everybody got to experience this with us. That’s neat.
7. A Man Called Jorald
The last time we talked about Jori Lehtera, it was his first game back, and we were pretty generous. We talked about his limited role and how he was just fine in it. There wasn’t too much to complain about. But now our tone has shifted.
After a game which saw him doing, well, not much of anything to generate offense for his team, and then taking not one but two penalties, including the five minute major that also had him ejected from the game, we were just left wondering why. Just why. He wasn’t playing particularly well, he was making some objectively dumb decisions, but the worst part is, we could all but see that coming. We know his history. We know what he can and can’t do. So why is he still here? Why?
8. Shots and all
We’re going to be direct with this: the Flyers had no business winning this one. They were out-shot and out-chanced thoroughly through the whole game and didn’t really have a way to shut down the Bruins entirely. How bad was it? I’m glad you asked. The Flyers were out-shot 42 to 19 in all situations, and gave up 84 shot attempts while only registering 34 of their own. That’s a 28.81 CF% in all situations.
But, you say, the Bruins had a ton of power play time. That’s true, so we’ll strip that out. If we’re just looking at 5-on-5, they posted *calculator clicking sounds* an adjusted 32.22 CF%. So, still not stellar.
What can we glean from this, then? The Flyers did some good work, made the most of their chances, and had Hart come up with the big saves when they needed him to. But there are still areas where they’re going to need to tighten up.
9. Getting comfortable
All this said, we want to take a moment to hone in on an idea brought up in the post-game interviews. Sean Couturier had a couple of positive notes on this one, but one which he emphasized was that the Flyers were getting more comfortable playing with the lead. And, while this may sound like a small detail, it’s really no small feat, considering what we’ve seen from this team so far this team. The Flyers of old might take a lead and then sit back in the third period, play a more conservative game, play not to lose. But we didn’t see this last night, rather, they kept up the pressure and worked to avoid giving the Bruins more space than they deserved. In short, they were playing to win. And maybe this is a nitpick, but maybe it’s not—all bad habits have to be broken eventually, and it’s nice to see this one starting to go.
10. The only damn thing I know
So I was pretty excited on Saturday, when the Devils played “Dirty Little Secret” by All American Rejects in their arena at a pretty aggressive volume, because I love a good throwback and that song still slaps. And I had a thought after that, that even better than that one is “Move Along.” Which the Devils should have used. Because it’s better. Which the Flyers have just now added to their warmups mix. That’s right, friends, they read my mind. Pretty good stuff. You’re welcome.