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Flyers 3, Jets 1: Revenge game, baby!

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Some observations for your morning...

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back, everybody! We made it through the break and we were rewarded with a bit of good hockey. The Flyers are back and they are still winning games. That feels good to see. That’s pretty cool.

All stats via Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com

1. The same old song and dance

So, this was sort of a weird start. It’s far from the first time we’ve had to say that this season, but this time, it’s understandable. It was both teams’ first game back from the break and they had to take a bit of time to get themselves back into the swing of game things. It’s as Scott Gordon said after the game, it wasn’t a matter of their heads being in game shape, but of getting their feet and hands to keep up with what they wanted to do. And that took a bit of doing (and it didn’t help that we had a fair bit of bouncing pucks on our hands).

All that said, it’s not much of a surprise that we only had five total shots on the board (three for Winnipeg, two for the Flyers) through the first ten minutes of the first period. It was turnovers and some sloppiness and all of that amounted to not a whole lot materializing for either side. But the good news is that we weren’t condemned to watch that slog for the whole of regulation—after the first intermission, both teams seemed to have made their adjustments and gotten themselves settled in. And not a moment too soon.

2. Depleted defense

The Flyers also got a bit of bad news during the pre-game warmups, as it turned out that Shayne Gostisbehere would be sidelined with a lower body injury. Which meant Christian Folin would be coming back into the lineup in his stead. And we worried that things might get a little dicey against this high-powered Winnipeg offense.

But as it turned out, it went pretty well, all things considered. The Flyers did well in shutting down the Jets at 5-on-5, limiting them to just 21 shots and four high danger chances for. The shot share evens out when we look at all situations (where the Jets put up 32 shots to the Flyers’ 31), but even with their two power plays taken into consideration, the HDCF total for the Jets was only allowed to climb to five. So, not a bad defensive effort against a team that we’ve seen burn the Flyers in the not too distant past.

The good news? This doesn’t seem to be anything serious. They team is hopeful that he’ll be available to play on Thursday in Boston, but if not, feel pretty confident that he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s return home against Edmonton. Whew.

3. The power play!

Okay, maybe that section title was a little misleading. Or at least the punctuation is. It may sound like we’re super excited and have a bunch of good news to deliver about last night’s power play showings, but that’s… well that’s not quite the case.

Really, we could have just as well called this one “the same old song and dance part two,” because the power play replicated a lot of what we’ve seen from them so far this season. This is to say that they were able to generate a handful of chances—six shots and four HDCF across their two attempts—but weren’t able to convert on any of them. But maybe we don’t have to be so doom and gloom about that lack of conversion—considering as they have been converting of late, we aren’t as concerned about the possibility that they might never score another power play goal again. The underlying process remains sound, and the results will come sooner or later.

4. Killing penalties

Where the Flyers were getting results last night, and have been through this recent stretch, is on the penalty kill. We alluded to it earlier, but the Jets had three chances on the power play last night, and the Phantoms thwarted their efforts on, well, two of those three tries, limiting them to eight shots and just one high danger chance.

They put in some good work, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing, of course, as the Jets dig get themselves set up and cycling and had the Flyers on their heels at the end of the first period, and the intermission couldn’t have come at a better time. They had a bit of help from that buzzer, a bit of sloppiness from the Jets, but most of all, the big saves from Carter Hart, which kept things from spiraling for them. They still gave up the one goal, but it came after a point shot was deflected and more or less bounced in past Hart. We can hardly fault anyone for that, it’s just a fluky play breaking up what was otherwise a bit of good work.

5. Welcome back, Mikhail Vorobyev!

Not to be lost in all of the excitement over yet another win is the fact that we had a returnee to the lineup. That’s right folks, Misha Vorobyev’s back at long last! After being sent down to the Phantoms after the first couple of weeks of the season, Vorobyev was plugging along in the American League, and with some impressive play, of late, he earned himself a call up.

So, how did he do? Not too bad! He played a respectable fourth line role, playing 7:36 on the night and he looked solid in that relatively limited showing. The numbers weren’t great, as he registered an adjusted 38.2 CF% at 5-on-5, but he still gave us some things to like. He was backchecking well, using his vision to disrupt the Jets’ attempts, and looked like he was easing back into NHL speed well enough. We want to see those numbers improve as we go forward, but, all told, we don’t really have any complaints about Vorobyev’s game, on the whole.

6. Starter Hart

And it was the Carter Hart show again last night, folks! It seems that one start with the Phantoms over the break just did him wonders in terms of keeping him fresh, because he was on last night. As we said, the team in front did reasonably well in keeping Hart from having to face a whole lot in the way of high danger shots, but he still had his work cut out for him.

There were stretches when the Jets were buzzing and the skaters didn’t seem to have an answer for their pressure, so it was up to Hart to make the stop and get them a breather. And, that’s exactly what he was able to do. All in all, it was another solid start for Hart (and which we’re never going to get tired of saying).

7. The Patrick line was doing some work

It wasn’t only defense and shot prevention that was going on in this one, and the Jets weren’t the only ones who were able to hit some stretches where they were buzzing in the offensive zone. It took the Flyers a bit to actually put a goal up on the board, but they were building to it through much of the second period. And while they were held off the board last night, Nolan Patrick’s line with Scott Laughton and Wayne Simmonds were putting themselves in good position to open up the scoring, if only they’d had the finish. The line put up four shots and an adjusted CF% of 52.45 percent. It’s not the first we’ve seen the gelling, and it seems encouraging that in their first game back that they should be able to more or less pick up right where they’ve left off. And there’s only more left to come.

8. Phil Varone, hello

After what had been a pretty tight 30 minutes of play, we were starting to worry that maybe this was going to turn into one of those “nothing to nothing game goes to overtime because I guess somebody has to win this one” games, but mercifully, we were spared this fate.

It came from a feed from Michael Raffl to Varone in front, where they were looking to create a bit of traffic, and they did just that. There was enough scrambling going on that some space opened up and Varone was able to slip the puck past Laurent Brossoit. And that, friends, is what we call secondary scoring.

Admittedly, we don’t tend to expect too much from our fourth lines on the scoring front, but particularly on a team that’s seen itself pretty starved for offense, it’s nice to see contributions coming from everywhere. It may not be a constant, but it’s still a threat, and we’ll take that.

9. The top line does its thing

It wasn’t all secondary scoring, of course, as the Flyers’ top line was right back at it and causing a little bit of mayhem. Is that a little too dramatic for you? Fine. They caused some trouble for the Jets by scoring some goals. There.

Their first goal of the night came from them channeling a model that’s worked well for them recently, that is, getting to the front of the net and hunting for rebounds. This time, however, it wasn’t James van Riemsdyk providing the screen in front, but Travis Konecny, and it served him well, as he had himself in perfect position to deflect in an Andrew MacDonald shot from the point, restoring the Flyers’ lead.

But Konecny wasn’t done yet. He would later help seal the game with this perfect feed to van Riemsdyk on the rush. Just look at that give and go. Just magnificent. And just like that, the Flyers’ top line is looking as dangerous as one would expect them do. And that’s extremely good news.

10. The only damn thing I know

We made it, folks! We made it through the weird bye week-all star break combo and we finally have hockey again! It’s been a weird run so far, but we’re having fun so far after this one? Hockey is fun again? That’s pretty wild, right, all things considered? We’ll absolutely take that though.