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Capitals 2, Flyers 1: Fueled by loser points

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Some observations for your morning...

NHL: Washington Capitals at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the Flyers started out looking pretty brutal, dropped the first goal, and then had to rally back and play a more dominant third period in order to force overtime. And then couldn’t convert in overtime. So they went to the shootout. Where they lost this one.

What’s that? You’re stopping me. Okay yep. On to the analysis.

All stats via Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com

How’d they look out there?

5-on-5: 41 CF, 22 SF, 41.18 CF%, 27.86 xGF%

By the numbers, not an excellent showing for the Flyers. In brief, the Capitals really got the better of them in both the number of shots and shot attempts they were able to generate at evens, as well as the quality of the chances. The Flyers struggled in the first period, they gave up the most shot attempts in the first 20 minutes, and in some areas improved as the game went on—for example, they were able to get more shots through in the later periods. But this isn’t the case across the board, as they didn’t put up a single high danger chance in the third period, when they registered three in both of the first two.

We have to give credit where it’s due—the Flyers struggled a bit on their own with their details and generating chances, but a big part of why this was the case was Washington’s strong defensive game, and how they were able to take away a lot of time and space and force the Flyers to keep more to the perimeter with their offense.

Power play: 7 CF, 3 SF, 1 HDCF

The Flyers, again, got their fair share of chances on the power play last night, but again the power play didn’t look all that powerful. Washington, on the whole, was playing a sound defensive game, but the Flyers were struggling all on their own to generate chances again on the man-advantage. The entries were the key, as they seemed to really struggle to gain the zone with possession consistently, and while they tried to collect themselves, time was eaten up, and their chances dwindled away.

They did get the one goal thanks to Claude Giroux, and, oh, would you look at that, it came off a controlled entry and a chance in transition.

This is the ideal, folks. More of this please.

Penalty kill: 5 CA, 2 SA, 0 HDCF

All in all, it was a very good night for the Flyers’ penalty kill. We know that Washington has what can be a very dangerous power play, and they were able to keep them mostly neutralized. In just over five and a half minutes of penalty kill time, they were able to really limit the Capitals’ chances, particularly the number of quality chances that they were able to generate. They were aggressive on pucks and able to be disruptive, on the whole, and were even able to generate a couple of shorthanded chances of their own, which is always a nice bonus.

And they passed what seems to be the most important test of all: they didn’t let Alex Ovechkin make them look stupid.

Three standouts

1. Carter Hart

We’ve already talked and will continue to talk about the Flyers’ struggles early in this game to both contain the Capitals’ offense and also break out of their own end with control, which means Hart certainly had his work cut out for him through good stretches of this game. And, because he’s Carter Hart, he handled this with ease and grace.

All told, he faced 36 shots and 10 high danger chances, and only gave up one goal (on one of those high danger chances), after the skaters failed to clear the puck and let the Capitals get right back to cycling. Hart had another solid game last night, and he did just about everything he could to keep his team in it while they looked for the equalizer. Which is all we could ask of him.

2. Andy Andreoff

Another good game for our new pal Andy! In a way, it feels a little strange to pick him out as one of the real standouts of this game when he only played 5:40 in total, but he was active and engaged on all of his shifts. He had two shots and one high danger chance, as well as one really nice feed to Joel Farabee from behind the net that he just missed on. But it was the right idea, and a nice bit of activity to see.

And so far, the big thing is that he’s doing exactly what we’ve been needing to see from the new fourth line flavor of the week—finding a way to be effective in the limited minutes he’s being given.

3. Philippe Myers

Myers didn’t absolutely blow the doors off in this one, and it was hist first in three games where he didn’t score a goal, but he had himself another solid game. He had a few chances offensively, as he registered two shots on the night, but it was really his defensive game that stood out last night. His gaps were good, he flexed a bit of speed to get back and break up rush chances, and he did a bit of disrupting of chances, getting his stick in lanes. It wasn’t a flashy game, but it shows how well-rounded his game can be.

He was also first among all skaters in 5-on-5 minutes, and part of that likely has to do with wanting to give the defensemen who play on special teams a bit of a breather, but it also suggests that he’s doing well to really own his coach’s trust. He’s not just here to be a sixth defenseman anymore—he’s getting an increased role and he’s running with it.

Two loose observations

1. *deep sigh* still the breakouts

We’re doing a bit of rehashing of old issues, but they’re still cropping up, and they’re still burning the Flyers. Their first period wasn’t very good. They only registered five shots across all situations and found themselves pretty easily hemmed into the own zone, letting the Capitals get to work. They were turning the puck over in-zone, and couldn’t break out with possession, giving the Caps a chance to force a turnover in the neutral zone and send them moving right back in the other direction. You get the picture, right? The Flyers didn’t have a whole lot of chances to get up the ice in transition because their play in the defensive and neutral zones was still sloppy. It burned them on the goal by Brendan Leipsic, when they couldn’t get the puck cleared and the Capitals just kept cycling, and the chance was bound to happen eventually, and they felt bound to be burned again.

We give them credit for cleaning things up as the game went on, but they dug themselves a bit of a hole early, and again, they didn’t really need to.

2. Parsing through some feelings

We’re getting into something of a trend here, and we can feel pretty comfortable saying that the Flyers are a good third period team. Often because they have to be to eek out some wins and loser points, but they’re playing good hockey in the third period. But what are the implications of that?

On the one hand, it feels like the Flyers are doing well to rally back and salvage the game after a bad start. That’s a good thing. They’re able to turn around and get some points out of games that at some point looked like they had no business winning. But on the other hand, maybe it’s not so good that they were in the position to need to do that rallying in the first place. If they had played like that all game, they might have just won it cleanly in regulation.

And the thing is, we’ve seen this before. And maybe we’re a little jaded, but it’s fair to worry that while they’re getting the results now, if they don’t shore up their starts, they’re going to start losing the games they have no business winning.

The only damn thing I know

I know we’re not supposed to say too many nice things about the opposition, and I know there are also a lot of team dogs around the league, but I’ve got to say, I think Captain is the cutest team puppy. The droopy face just kills me. I wish we had a team puppy.