New year, new me? New week, new Flyers? Something like that. After dropping their first game back from a disappointing Western Canadian road trip in even more disappointing fashion to the Stars on Saturday, the Flyers took a couple of days to regroup, and they were right back at it last night against the Golden Knights. And guess what? They came in and handled them neatly, and picked up their third win of the season, with a real onslaught of scoring. The Flyers looked good last night, you guys. Hockey is fun again.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com
How’d they look out there?
5-on-5: 27 SF, 48 CF, 61.63 CF%, 56.61 xGF%
This all looks somewhat familiar, no? Once again, the Flyers got the better of the territorial play, this time both in the shot quantity and quality departments, and looked pretty dominant through long stretches. But what changed from Saturday is that the goals started to come for them. The Flyers re-emphasized getting to the front of the net to create chances, and they were rewarded for it. Three of their six goals came from right in front of the net, and a fourth came from just inside the right circle. They did well to get inside Vegas’s defense and test Oskar Dansk, and the results speak from themselves.
Power play: 8 SF, 11 CF, 1 HDCF
Gang. The second power play unit is good.
Yes, you read that. After literal years of praying that the Flyers would find a way to get something out of the second unit, it’s finally happening. The top unit, curiously, looked a little listless last night, but the second was veritably on fire. They put up both of the Flyers’ two power play goals, and seemed to be gelling well. They were doing well to work their way lower in the offensive zone and hunt for higher danger chances. Their passing was crisp, and they just looked flat out dangerous.
What a pass by Couturier! Niskanen with the marker. pic.twitter.com/5hXmqTaVGY— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) October 22, 2019
And we just need 100 percent more of this, please.
Penalty kill: 6 SA, 10 CA, 1 HDCA
Overall, it was a pretty solid night for the Flyers’ penalty kill. They gave up some chances, and weren’t able to completely neutralize Vegas’s power play (see: one goal given up), but we can still feel pretty good about their efforts. The one goal given up was on a 5-on-3 for Vegas, and they were passing well and quickly and the Flyers didn’t stand much of a chance. But otherwise, their work was solid. They limited what can be a very dangerous Vegas power play to just one high danger chance, and while they weren’t able to completely shut them down, they were able to keep them pretty quiet.
1. Brian Elliott
It feels a little weird to say that the goalie was the difference maker in a 6-2 win, where the offense just seemed to be flowing at will, but this was the case last night. Elliott didn’t see much activity early, but the Golden Knights did get their fair share of good looks across the course of the night—35 shots and eight high danger chances across all situations. Elliott made a number of really stellar saves, and did well to make sure they the Golden Knights weren’t able to claw their way back in this one.
And you could feel the impact—the building got to buzzing and Oskar Lindblom even said that the team was energized, seeing him make those saves. It was an important contribution.
2. Oskar Lindblom
Speaking of Lindblom, he also had himself quite the game. With a goal of his own on a lovely passing play with Michael Raffl, and then a primary assist on Konecny’s power play goal, the offense was surging back for Lindblom, after a quieter couple of games.
Lindblom joins the scoring party! pic.twitter.com/xqcUQFUsrC— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) October 22, 2019
He led the team in scoring chances across all situations, with five, and put up a 54.28 CF% at 5-on-5. His defensive game remained strong—we’ve more or less come to expect this from him—but it was nice to see him tapping back into the offensive side. He was playing to his preferred style—that is, crashing the net and looking for chances—and it’s paying dividends.
3. Michael Raffl
And speaking of Raffl! How’s that for segueing? Anyway, Raffl was another player like Lindblom who seemed to be tapping back into his offensive game after being quieter on that front for a bit. It was a two or three point night for Raffl, depending on where you look and who you ask (he’s listed as having two goals and an assist, but he insisted that the first goal should be Ivan Provorov’s), but all the same, the fact remains that he looked great last night. We’ve talked some to date about how Raffl figures as something of a perfect fourth liner—defensively sound while also able to bring a bit of extra scoring punch—and that was on display last night.
Stewart chips the puck out off of the glass, it finds its way to Raffl, and he makes no mistake on the breakaway. pic.twitter.com/PcmVIUeTQt— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) October 22, 2019
He’s had a quietly solid start to the season, bringing a very complete game just about every night, and it was nice to see him rewarded last night for that good work.
Two loose observations
1. The kids are alright
In case you hadn’t heard, the Flyers brought up a couple of new (or relatively new) kids for last night’s game in Mikhail Vorobyev and Joel Farabee, and they both had themselves very solid games. Vorobyev only saw about nine and a half minutes of ice time, but was sound all around in them. He came out of the night with an adjusted 57.38 CF% at 5-on-5, and brought a bit of flash on one very nice backcheck in the neutral zone to force a turnover. He was placed in a limited role, but he was still involved.
Farabee, in his NHL debut, just seemed to get better as the game went on. He was able to keep up well with the pace of play, and seemed to hold his own physically well enough. The offense showed some promise, as he got a couple looks across the night—three shots in total and one nice high danger chance. In short, he looked to be bringing the same game that was working for him in Lehigh, and he’s looking sharp already.
2. When process pays off
We’ve talked some about this over the past few days, but one of the more frustrating things about the Flyers last couple of losses is that despite the end result, the Flyers got the better of play through much of those games. They were generating chances in bulk, and even a number of high quality chances, but they just weren’t getting the bounces, it wasn’t all coming together.
It was something of a buzz term after this game. Konecny brought it up a couple of times, this idea that they’re just keeping faith in the system and making sure that they play the right way, and the results will come. That’s exactly what happened last night, and we’re eager to see if they’re able to keep all this up, and keep getting rewarded.
The only damn thing I know
At one point during Saturday’s game against the Stars, when things were just looking pretty bleak, I turned to Charlie and asked if the Flyers are bad. He said “unclear.”
And then last night, after I think the fourth Flyers goal scored, I turned to him and asked “are the Flyers good?” And again he said “unclear.”
Everything’s a little weird right now, and after two wildly different showings, it’s still difficult to parse through everything to say confidently just what this team is. But hey, if nothing else, last night sure was fun.