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Flames 3, Flyers 2: Yawn

Some observations for your morning...

Calgary Flames v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

That’s all folks! With their shootout win yesterday, the Flames came into Philly and officially swept the season series against the Flyers. Again. So it goes.

Did you guys have fun with this one? It was like… maybe ten total minutes of actual fun. The rest was, well, who knows. It was kind of a weird one. Let’s talk about it.

All stats via Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com.

How’d they look out there?

5-on-5: 51 CF, 29 SF, 56.99 CF%, 61.88 xGF%

As we alluded to in the intro, yesterday’s game was something of a strange one because, particularly early, there were these long stretches where it really just felt like nothing was happening. Call it two teams feeling each other out if you want, but they spent most of the first period going back and forth up and down the ice and then not being able to put a shot on net. They came back from the first intermission and the Flyers really took over—the Flames gave them a lot of space to find their legs, and they ran with it, out-chancing them 22 to seven in the second period and really looking like they might run away with this thing. They couldn’t match that same level of dominance in the third period, as Calgary finally started waking up, but the Flyers still came out of this one with the edge at 5-on-5, getting the better of the share of shot attempts and high danger chances, the only thing a bit lacking was the finish.

Power play: 7 CF, 4 SF, 0 HDCF

It wasn’t really an excellent showing for the Flyers’ power play yesterday, unfortunately. Some credit os due to the Flames’ penalty kill, which has been very effective just about all season, but the Flyers, even when they had their chances, couldn’t really do much. They had a sequence where they were set up in the offensive zone and one of the Flames’ penalty killers had a broken stick, effectively a 5-on-3, and they just couldn’t do anything there. A seven attempt and four shot effort in six minutes of power play time isn’t too bad, but they struggled to get the puck working lower in the zone for higher danger chances, and that’s what really seemed to hurt them.

Penalty kill: 3 CA, 0 SA, 0 HDCA

One thing we can feel pretty confident saying about this one is that it was just an afternoon of strong penalty killing. The Flyers also had six minutes of penalty kill time, and did really well to shut down the Flames’ power play. Calgary was limited to just three shot attempts and no proper shots on goal, while the Flyers actually generated a couple of breakouts and two shorthanded shots of their own. The Flames have been really struggling on the man-advantage recently, and that certainly helped the Flyers out a bit, but their overall efforts were sound. Having Scott Laughton back also seemed to give them a bit of a boost, but it was a job well done, across the board. They did well to keep Calgary pushed out of the offensive zone and just didn’t let them get anything going.

Three standouts

1. Sean Couturier

First standout of the game goes to Couturier because I started thinking about this section early on in the game when no one was really doing anything and this exercise became difficult but at least Couturier was out there looking like he was trying some things.

Joking aside, he did have an overall good game, even if he didn’t make it on the scoresheet in this one. He put up an adjusted 65.47 CF% and 65.82 xGF% playing mostly against the Flames’ top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Elias Lindholm, and did well to shut them down. He was also a key piece to those effective penalty kills that we talked about a moment ago, and stood out as being particularly disruptive on Calgary’s entry attempts. It wasn’t his flashiest game, but it was still one where he was keeping to all of his details, and the results remained positive.

2. Kevin Hayes

It wasn’t too long ago that we were talking about the team and making particular note that the Flyers really needed to be getting more out of Kevin Hayes, and now just like that, he’s on a two game goal scoring streak. He picked up the empty netter on Thursday in Carolina, and then yesterday he scored what we might call more like a proper goal at 5-on-5.

Hayes had, overall, a fine enough night—the goal was an obvious plus, even if the underlying numbers (an adjusted 48.88 CFF% and 42.50 xGF%) weren’t stellar. We care a lot about process, generally, but it seems like the result might even be a bit more important, for now. The Flyers needed to be getting more out of Hayes offensively recently, and now it looks like he’s starting to put it all back together. Yesterday was another step in the right direction.

3. Jake Voracek

Actually this was supposed to be Travis Sanheim’s section, but at the very last second Voracek swept in and stole the section away.

*crowd booing me*

Wow, everybody’s a critic.

Voracek did have a goal yesterday and while it did look like Sanheim’s shot would have trickled through anyway, if the Flames defender had gotten in there and prevented the goal, everyone would have been screaming that Voracek has to make sure that that absolutely turns into a goal. So no real complaints on that play. Overall, it was a pretty solid night for Voracek—on top of the goal, he also registered an adjusted 66.66 CF% and 65.87 xGF%, so the underlying numbers on the afternoon were solid as well. But as was the case with Hayes, Voracek was another one of those players who the Flyers have needed to get going more than they have been, so that goal somehow feels even more important. Here’s to hoping that this is something close to the floodgates opening.

Two loose observations

1. The right idea?

We’re going to hone in on one small detail quickly, here, but something that stood out from yesterday’s game specifically was the number of times the Flyers tried to set up a scoring chance by just whipping the puck into the slot from one of the circles. More often it almost looked like a blind pass, they were just trying to get the puck to the front of the net, even if it looked a little imprecise.

It was the right idea, of course, as they’re getting the puck to where high danger chances are created, and that’s where more goals come from. They just weren’t getting the support there to really make much happen from those chances yesterday. Maybe just a bit more deliberate with the passing next time, a bit tighter on the details.

2. Feelings check

This was something of a strange game in that we come away from it feeling neither particularly bad nor good about it. Neither the Flyers nor the Flames looked very good and the game just wasn’t very pretty, in general. It is what it is.

Going bigger picture, I’ve also been feeling for Flames fans recently, with them being in the slump they came into this game on. And when the Flyers were on long skids like that, what we loved to say was that, because their process isn’t terrible but they’re still losing games that they should be winning, eventually they’ll get a couple of lucky bounces and win a game they have no business winning to snap the losing streak. Sometimes that happens. And sometimes you’re on the other side of that. Did the Flames deserve to win this game? Not really, but they were finally getting the lucky bounces that had been alluding them up until this point. And sometimes, that’s just hockey.

The only damn thing I know

As some of you may know, I also work for our Calgary friends over at Matchsticks and Gasoline, and we made some staff predictions ahead of yesterday’s game. And folks, I’m so sorry (but maybe not all that sorry?).