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What we learned from the Flyers’ first taste of defeat in 2019-20

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The shootout still sucks, and some other observations from a 3-2 loss in Vancouver to the Canucks.

Philadelphia Flyers v Vancouver Canucks Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

The Flyers fell from the ranks of the NHL’s undefeated after last night’s 3-2 setback via the shootout to the Canucks. It wasn’t all bad though, as Carsen Twarynski scored his first NHL goal and Carter Hart kept the sagging Flyers in the game through a lackluster start. Without further ado, let’s dive on in and see what we can takeaway from an uneven outing in Vancouver.

The Metrics (via NaturalStatTrick)

5v5 Corsi-For: 56.04%

5v5 xGF: 51.23%

5v5 HDCF: 45.45%

Via NaturalStatTrick

Even after flying all around the dang globe in the last week or so, the Flyers didn’t have a bad showing on the left coast at all in this one. In fact, they really deserved a slightly better fate per the fancy stats, if only by a little bit.

Hart was strong as the Flyers didn’t really turn things on until the third period, where they blitzed the Canucks by generating 23 shot attempts at the unlikely brick wall that was Jacob Markstrom on this night. Some late work from Vancouver evened things out a bit, but make no mistake the ice was tiled towards Markstrom in the final 20 and the Flyers did so with a bunch of puck possession and zone time.

The heat map stands up the high danger chances, where Carter Hart was magnificent once again, but more on that in a bit. With that dark blue in the right corner you’d be hard pressed not to think Radko Gudas was still around, but it wasn’t all point tries from the Flyers last night, and that’s still more progress as their philosophy is changing in the offensive zone as they go away from death by low to high.

Five observations

Get the kid that puck

Carsen Twarynski making the Flyers out of camp was a mix of a slew of things including his on-ice play and the Flyers’ suddenly cloudy salary cap situation thanks to the Nolan Patrick injury, etc. But even before the Patrick injury and the subsequent cap implications, it was getting more and more clear that the former Ohio State product was making it hard for the coaching staff to not include him. That was after another strong training camp, which was the same thing he did a year ago before going down to the Phantoms as the Flyers had even less roster room to work with.

Twarynski has shown a great work rate operating in the bottom six throughout preseason and through the first three games and was able to pot his first NHL goal in this one with a well placed shot past a hot goalie. Given how well Markstrom was outside of the Twarynski goal, it’s probably one the goalie would want back but it still counts all the same. Not only was it No. 1 for 83 in your programs, it gave the Flyers a jolt of life seeing one of the kids get his first big NHL moment.

We’re going to run out of adjective to describe Carter Hart’s play

I’m not sure what I like best about Hart, honestly. I love how calm he is when shit hits the proverbial fan, but I also love his constantly precise positioning, and his technically sound style. But probably the biggest thing I love about Hart is how he really seems to come up with the big save, you know like the two to three saves you just need in the course of a hockey game to win when the best effort of the guys isn’t quite there.

Hart has now provided about 10-12 of these types of saves in just three games, and the most important one of the night was during overtime on a breakaway with the game on the line. But that’s no big deal to him, really.

One of the biggest reasons the Flyers haven’t secured more points in the last few years has been general goaltending, but that hasn’t been an issue at all so far and doesn’t appear to be one anytime soon. That’s neat.

That TK is so hot right now

While the Flyers could really use some of their forwards to get going here and soon, the energizer bunny that is Travis Konecny isn’t one of them.

He was the second leg in a just beautiful tying goal from Oskar Lindblom with five minutes left, taking a slick entry from Matt Niskanen, and putting one on the tape and right in the wheelhouse for Lindblom to deposit behind Markstrom. It was a tick-tac-toe play of sorts and made smoother from the elite vision and sense of Konecny, who now has six points in three games and has been on the scoresheet in each one.

TK also posted a Corsi-For percentage of 66% on the night, again towards the very top of the heap among Flyers forwards though he was a bit unlucky being out for the Brock Boeser goal as the puck pin-balled around in front of Hart. The trio of Sean Couturier, TK, and Lindblom has been the Flyers’ best line by far, and for once it isn’t just Couturier driving things.

Defense to offense

Vancouver’s forecheck was pretty tireless early on, and they were aggressive all over the ice, but the Flyers —to their credit— did adjust according as the game went on.

The defense did a nice job recognizing the aggression and bodies in the neutral zone as Justin Braun hit Twarynski with that lovely seem pass to open the scoring for the Flyers. Braun saw the pool of blue shirts on his side of the ice and executed the pass perfectly to setup at least a scoring chance that turned into a goal.

Later on it was Niskanen as he just undressed the Canucks defense himself to start the setup on the tying goal. Travis Sanheim was aggressive, too, and should have scored at least once —ringing one off the post late on a solo rush. With Hart backing them up, the Flyers’ defense can afford to take more chances and have more confidence that the puck won’t at least immediately end up in the back of their net.

Travel be damned

The Flyers responded pretty well in this one considering their recent travel schedule, actually. They looked a little lethargic in the first period, but found their legs in the second before really turning things up in the final 20. And after struggling with a pretty aggressive Canucks forecheck earlier in the game, their breakouts improved and they were able to transition to a more pressured offensive attack later in the game.

Given how crazy the travel has been to start the season, and all the miles added up, it’s nice to see a 2-0-1 record up there through three games. Now this western swing is by no means over, but getting the first one out of the way and even having a solid chance to steal a win should give the team even more confidence and belief right from the get-go.

GIF of the night

Go birds.