The Flyers lost their seventh straight game last night, and are three losses away from back-to-back seasons with 10 straight losses. For some reason, let’s talk about what we learned.
1. Effort was pitiful
I can sit here and analyze the specific flaws in the Flyers game plan offensively and defensively last night, but honestly when an effort like that was put in, what’s the point? The Flyers came out with a decent amount of energy in the first period and for the most part went toe to toe with the Blues in offensive chances, but after Brayden Schenn’s goal, it was all downhill from there. Schenn scored less than a minute into the second period, and they may as well have just called the game there. The team tanked it in from that moment on and there was little to no point in watching the rest.
I think we all can handle losing, it happens in sports and as Flyers fans we’ve sure as hell seen a lot of it, but at least give us a better effort than that. I mentioned this in the preview that the team needs to not pack it in if they go down a goal, but silly me, I should have known that is exactly what they would do. This of course does not resonate for every single player, and that will be touched on later, but come on. That was absolutely ridiculous that they couldn’t even bring energy and an attacking mindset against a goalie making his first NHL start.
Losing happens, but that was downright embarrassing and the fans that paid money to see that game tonight live and in person deserve better. If as a team they can’t bring the energy for their prized 20 year old goalie, in a game facing a team similar to them, once again against a goalie making his first NHL start, then something is truly rotten with this hockey team.
2. How was the shot quality that bad?
I know I just said what’s the point of deeply analyzing the flaws of the Flyers in that hockey game, but that was before I saw the heat map for the game. How, did they honestly expect to come back in that game shooting from where they shot?
The whole “take as many shots as possible” mantra when facing a goalie making his first start does generally make sense, but it seems someone forgot to tell the Flyers getting quality chances is still recommended. The best part is, they were absolutely destroyed in the shot battle. The Blues out-shot the Flyers 37-25 and it’s truly a shock that they even had 25 shots. The Flyers somehow managed to not take a lot of shots on a rookie goalie, and fail to get quality chances in the same breathe. Here is last night’s heat map:
I mean ... what ... what is this? The area in which the Flyers attempted the most shots is probably one of the lowest percentage areas on the ice to score from. It appeared as though when Scott Gordon first came in as interim head coach this wouldn’t happen as often, given the Phantoms affinity for playing below the goal line. I do not believe this all falls on the shoulders of Gordon, but this is just ridiculous. No hockey team in the year 2019 should still have games where their shots come from the perimeter like this.
St. Louis won the scoring chances battle 21-19 and the high danger chances battle 11-5 and once again it’s incredible that they even had 19 scoring chances. The Flyers had a whopping 29.56 xGF% at 5-on-5 and the player who had the highest was Jakub Voracek on the second line with Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom. That line was arguably the lone positive from the Flyers forwards in that game.
3. Provorov, Sanheim, Gostisbehere positives on defense
Although their stats may not be as impressive, it was going to be difficult for anyone’s stats to be deemed impressive on a night like last night. Shayne Gostisbehere, Ivan Provorov, and Travis Sanheim all did a solid job of joining the rush specifically last night. Gostisbehere had one of his better games doing just that in quite some time it felt like, and Provorov continues to build on strong games as he attempts to turn his season around. Sanheim meanwhile wasn’t as noticeable, but was steady yet again continuing his strong sophomore season.
Gostisbehere posted the best Corsi of the trio with a 65.52, although his xGF was a lowly 26.25 percent. Provorov and Sanheim meanwhile posted lower Corsi’s with a 45 and 50 percent respectively, but higher xGF’s. If there are any real positives from this game, the play of their young defensemen is definitely one of them and they hopefully will continue to be over the remainder of the season.
4. Second line, Patrick looked strong
This game featured the return of Nolan Patrick, and he along with Voracek and Oskar Lindblom were solid offensively. The trio were the best play-drivers on the team last night, posting the three highest Corsi’s. Voracek lead the way followed by Lindblom then Patrick, and although this can be taken lightly given no point production, it’s nice to see Patrick specifically return and drive play.
If the Flyers are ever going to right the ship, Patrick is going to need to be a huge part of the turnaround. The depth a good Nolan Patrick brings to the Flyers lineup helps them in numerous ways with their utilization of Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, and the wingers that will play alongside Patrick. It’s just one game, and he’s had these flashes before, but disregarding all of that it was a good sign to see him perform well last night.
5. Carter Hart deserves better
The Flyers 20 year old netminder was one of the only reasons they didn’t lose 7-0 last night. Hart was spectacular for the orange and black only allowing the two goals and neither of the two being soft goals. The first was albeit a big rebound given up, but no one tied up Schenn driving the net which resulted in an easy tap in goal. Hart did struggle at times with rebounds in this game and overall fluidity in net, but as the game wore on he was virtually lights out.
On the second goal, Vladimir Tarasenko did what Vladimir Tarasenko does and that is snipe on goalies. He’s had a rough start to the season, but no one can question the talent he brings to the table especially when he’s on his game. Getting beat by Tarasenko is something that even the best goalies have experienced, and Hart will learn from it. Besides the point, as soon as the Blues scored the first one the game was basically over so it’s not like the second goal really mattered all that much.
Hart stopped 34 of 36 shots overall, and played well enough to win. The one sure fire positive from last night was Carter Hart, and I’m sure that’s not the last time I’ll be saying that this season.
Carter Hart DID get a piece of that shot! pic.twitter.com/wElTe08K2d— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 8, 2019
All stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, Corsica, and NHL.com