Hello friends! The Flyers won a game last night they truly had no business winning, thanks to some spectacular efforts from the youngins, let’s dive into what we learned.
1. Carter Hart is mine, yours, and our lord and savior.
What else is there to say about this kid? Carter Hart was incredible in that hockey game and was probably the only reason Montreal didn’t put this game out of reach in the first period. They outshot the Flyers 12-1 in the first, and it honestly felt like a lot more than that, and that was probably because Montreal had 28 shot attempts to the Flyers nine. Hart essentially had to be alert and on his game at every waking moment of the opening period, because his team just couldn’t get anything going.
Hart would remain perfect in net up until hater-of-fun Max Domi scored at the 7:36 mark of the third period to cut the Flyers lead of 3-0 to 3-1. Hart would give up one more on the night but he still made 31 of 33 shots en route to picking up his first career road win.
We’ve seen how great Hart has been with his puck tracking, angling himself well to the shooter, and general smoothness in net. But tonight, I think it’s fair to say the most impressive aspect of his game was the rebound control. He swallowed up rebounds all night long, and if for a brief moment it appeared he’d given up a big one, by the time you could panic Hart had gotten the whistle. This was an amazing performance by Hart, and he now has a .918 save percentage as he and his teammates head into the bye week on a three game win streak.
2. Nolan Patrick, ladies and gents.
Let me be the first to say, I too was truly frustrated with how Nolan Patrick was playing this season. He wasn’t showing the flashes of brilliance we saw in the second half of last season, and he looked all too passive and seemingly unengaged on the ice. Over the past couple of games, and really since he came back from the injury he suffered in Tampa Bay, Patrick has reverted back to his second half form and he really put it on display last night.
Although he only came up with a 45 Corsi-for percentage in this one, he ended a plus 7.35 relative due to the fact no one really drove play at that well last night. He did however lead the team in scoring chances-for percentage, with a 60. But, we all know the real reason why Nolan Patrick is being mentioned as one of the best players from this game.
Two goals, the second time he’s done this in three games, and one of the more highlight reel goals of the Flyers season to date. His first goal came on a 2-on-1 with him and Wayne Simmonds, with Simmonds delaying perfectly then finding Patrick for the cross crease one-timer. He’s struggled burying those shots at times, but this was not one of those times. His second goal, coming off the bench, Patrick absolutely dunked on Brendan Gallagher, putting on a nasty move that left the Canadiens forward in his dust, then went bardown on Antti Niemi for an incredible goal. This, this right here is the Nolan Patrick that we saw at the end of last season, this is the Patrick we saw be the consensus number one overall pick for almost his entire draft year and more.
Simmonds finds Patrick for the goal! pic.twitter.com/PLerZn4Tw8— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 20, 2019
Sure, it’s only a few games, and we’ve seen Patrick do this before and then come down again in production. But, these are very encouraging signs for the young forward. If he can continue to produce like this for the rest of the season, one would assume it bodes well for his confidence heading into next season as the Flyers will look to get back to the playoffs. We all know Patrick can show a high end skill level, it’s all about consistency at this stage.
OH MY, NOLAN PATRICK. pic.twitter.com/Ul1P1ZczGW— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 20, 2019
3. The pigeon was at it again
Speaking of forwards on hot streaks of late, I believe the panic felt by some of the fanbase over James van Riemsdyk’s lack of production in the early going was a tad excessive. JVR picked up another goal last night in predictable fashion, with a redirect off a Robert Hagg shot from the point. This gives him 12 goals on the season in 32 games, on pace for roughly a 25 goal season in 66 games should he play each of the remaining contests.
There have been a few clear benefactors from Scott Gordon taking over as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers — and while I believe Travis Sanheim is the greatest benefactor — JVR has to be in the top three. It appears that since Gordon took over, the Flyers are making a more concerted effort to get shots on goal when he’s providing a screen. If you’re familiar with JVR’s game in the slightest, you know that’s a pretty solid idea.
He makes his living off of these kind of goals; deflections, burying rebounds, all the kind of goals you’d expect a big body like him to score. He’s not the flashiest player in the world, but he gets the job done more often than not. He now has seven goals in his past 10 games including the hat trick vs. Boston. I think it’s safe to say he’s earning that pay day he got in the offseason.
To put the icing on the cake, JVR was the second best Flyers forward in Corsi last night with a 48.72, good for a 15.38 relative.
4. What, what was that first period, fellas?
Not to rain on the parade of the win last night, but that first period may have been the worst this team has looked all season, and that’s saying a lot! As previously mentioned, the Flyers were outshot 12-1 and shot attempts were 28-9 in favor of Montreal, but wait, it gets worse. Scoring chances were 15-3 for the Habs, and high danger chances were 5-0. Passes were sloppy, they couldn’t exit the zone, they were flat footed in their own zone, absolutely nothing was going well. Even when the Flyers did get chances, they whiffed on them. Wayne Simmonds had an empty net staring him down and he hit the post, and then Travis Konecny in almost the same exact situation, pushed the shot wide.
However, given all of that, this team did pick it up as the game went on. Montreal was continuing to beat them to the punch offensively with their speed, but the Flyers were able to counter it more often and use their aggressiveness against them. By no means do I think the Flyers were the better team; Montreal should have won this game, but they didn’t. Good to great teams find a way to win these games when they have off nights, and the Flyers did that last night, just as they did against Boston. Of course, it would be preferable to just not play like you’ve already checked out for the bye week, and they won’t be able to win like this for long before the metrics really start to bite them, but this is what having a good goalie is like. It sure as hell helps mask these issues.
5. Konecny shines
Linemate of one James van Riemsdyk, Travis Konecny was one of the best Flyers forwards vs. Montreal. The winger lead the team in Corsi and scored two points, picking up the first goal of the game along with an assist on the JVR goal. Konecny’s season has been a frustrating one, with bad luck seemingly plaguing his point totals and his mindset at times. Last night however, TK was firing on all cylinders.
His goal was a great example of following up shots. Shayne Gostisbehere and Sean Couturier played catch at the point setting up a cutting Gostisbehere who took a screened shot courtesy of Oskar Lindblom, and Konecny was right there ready for the rebound. This was point number 100 for Konecny in his brief NHL career, and he could have scored that point sooner had he not missed an empty net in the first period. Alas, this was a great game for TK as he hopes to pick up the pace after the bye week. He now has 26 points in 48 games, on pace for roughly a 44 point season, three points less than his 47 point season last year. Konecny could catch fire and still beat his point total from last season, but it’s definitely been a disappointing start for him.