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Flyers 7, Blue Jackets 4: Get pucks deep

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Some observations for your morning…

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that sure was an adventure! The Flyers kicked off their weekend of back-to-backs last night at home against the Blue Jackets, and it certainly was an interesting game. The Flyers took the early lead off a goal by Jake Voracek and looked to be picking up some steam, and then gave up two goals, got one back, then gave up two more. We were staring down a 4-2 deficit as the third period wore on, and were starting to sweat. But then the floodgates opened and the Flyers scored five (yes, five!) more goals in the final ten minutes of regulation for a commanding win over Columbus. And even Shayne Gostisbehere got his first goal of the season. How about that.

All stats via Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com

How’d they look out there?

5-on-5: 53 CF, 30 SF, 9 HDCF, 54.48 CF%, 41.8 xGF%

We’ll be talking a bit more about this as we move through the rest of this piece, but the Flyers got the better of play through most of this game at 5-on-5. They dominated in the number of chances generated through just about the whole of the game, and continued to pull ahead of Columbus by a pretty comfortable margin as the game went on. They weren’t getting the bounces early, but with the sheer number of chances they were generating, it felt only a matter of time before something went their way.

The one negative we can key in on is the fact that the Blue Jackets did get the better of them in the shot quality department. Given the end result of the game, it’s hard to get too worked up about this, but it’s important to note that it did happen, in the event that is becomes a trend going forward.

Power play: 10 CF, 7 SF, 2 HDCF, .51 xGF

It was a good night for the Flyers’ power play yesterday, as each of the two units were able to get themselves on the board, thanks to James van Riemsdyk in the second, and then Travis Konecny in the last moments of the game. It was a more limited showing—just 3:23 in total—but the Flyers did really well to generate chances, as you can see in the stat line above. Their puck moving was pretty crisp, and they looked threatening in a way that Columbus didn’t really have an answer for. It was probably more encouraging to see more out of the first unit, but all in all, we can feel good about what they were able to put together last night.

Penalty kill: 4 CA, 4 SA, 2 HDCA

We saw a lot of the Flyers’ penalty kill last night, that’s for sure, but the good news is that they performed very well. Certainly, they got a bit of help from the fact that Columbus’s power play has really been struggling, but their own work was solid. In just under eight and a half minutes on the penalty kill, the Flyers limited the Blue Jackets to just four shots and two high danger chances.

Oh, and Kevin Hayes scored a shorthanded goal.

All told, outside of that bit of flash, the Flyers’ penalty kill put up another solid showing on the night, and we’re never going to get tired of being able to say that.

Three standouts

1. James van Riemsdyk

Van Riemsdyk picked up two goals last night, as his offensive game really seemed to be clicking. In general, we saw more from his line, as they won their matchup, registering a 69.76 CF% at 5-on-5. But van Riemsdyk stood out specifically in this one for his extra scoring punch. We noted the power play goal scored in the second period, but he also picked up a pretty neat 5-on-5 goal just past the midway point of the third period to tie things up.

He was effective offensively, and after seeing him start the season doing some good work but missing out on the bounces, it’s nice to see it all starting to come together for him.

2. Kevin Hayes

That’s a three game goal streak for Hayes, folks, and he really is out there doing his thing. After Vigneault noted that it had looked like he was pressing a bit, trying to do too much, he seems to have scaled it back a little bit, and it’s all falling into place. As we noted above, Hayes picked up a goal on the night, the Flyers’ first shorthanded goal of the season, and he continues to be impressive on the penalty kill—with good positioning, he’s able to generate a good number of turnovers, and he’s comfortable enough to not just try to dump the puck out of zone, but rather to skate it out and look to burn up a bit more time.

At 5-on-5, he was also solid—he registered three individual shot attempts, a high danger scoring chance, and put up an adjusted 57.95 CF%. His line won their territorial matchup in that way, and again he was noticeable in generating chances. He seems to be earning his contract, folks.

3. Joel Farabee

There were a lot of standout performances in this one, but we do want to just take a moment to note that Farabee had himself another very solid game. He didn’t get himself on the scoresheet (for real or later to be revoked), but once again he was active in generating chances. He was second on the team in shots (with four) and scoring chances (also four), and lead the team in high danger chances (three) at 5-on-5. It just feels like every time he’s on the ice, he’s looking to make the play that leads to a scoring chance. He’s not afraid to be a little selfish, and it’s refreshing. He’s still looking for that first NHL goal, but he’s doing just about everything else right.

Two loose observations

1. When process [continues] to pay off

The way this game was starting to shape up, we were worried this article was going to an exercise in talking again about how the Flyers were the better team and didn’t deserve the result they got in this one, but the results will come soon, because the process was sound.

And then it happened. Three goals in under five minutes propelled the Flyers into the lead, and two more in the final two minutes sealed the win. And it was all a product of what the Flyers had been doing all game—they got the better of play pretty much through the whole of the game, generating chances and working to wear them down. They didn’t get flustered when they fell behind, they just stuck to their game plan, and sure enough, things broke their way.

2. A note on load management

So, Brian Elliott wasn’t very good in this one. He gave up four goals on 26 shots against, and a couple of those were pretty ugly. His rebound control was a little dicey, and his positioning was off at times, and we was burned for it.

But here’s the thing—this may not have been because he was starting in his third consecutive game. We get worried about playing him too much, but with a game in New York tonight, he was going to have to play in one of them, and an extra day’s rest likely wouldn’t have made a tremendous difference. We’re right to monitor how they’re using him, but usage wasn’t what did him in last night. It was just one of those games where he didn’t have it.

The only damn thing I know

I was walking in South Philly yesterday afternoon to grab a coffee with our pal Heather before the game, and as I was walking, I saw the best thing. Honestly, I wish I could make this up—a squirrel stole a half eaten soft pretzel from a group of small birds and drug it under a truck with two Flyers logos painted on the hood.

And like… come on. Philly is just a parody of itself at this point. And I love it so much.