Well would you guys look at that! The Flyers started out a little shaky last night against a good team, and they didn’t blow the whole game by shooting themselves in the foot. In fact, they buckled down, pushed out the panic, got to work hunting for their chances, and they were rewarded for it. By the end of the game, they were looking pretty sharp again, and we’re feeling pretty good about this whole thing. Here’s some analysis about that.
But before we jump, here’s a gif of Joel Farabee’s goal from last night, because it was very nice and I couldn’t work it in anywhere else. So it goes.
A strong defensive play at one end, and the finish at the other. Farabee gives the Flyers a 2-goal lead pic.twitter.com/qp99gzHJAK— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 6, 2019
All stats via Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com
How’d they look out there?
5-on-5: 32 CF, 22 SF, 40.96 CF%, 34.31 xGF%
There’s really no way around this one—the Flyers did not have a very good night at 5-on-5. They registered three goals, which is never a bad thing, but the underlying numbers tell us that the Hurricanes got the better of the territorial play through the whole of the game, in terms of both shot quantity and quality. The Flyers looked rough to start, having trouble connecting on passes, preventing them from both breaking out of their own end and sustaining offensive zone pressure when they were able to get past that first step. They got better as the game went on, but the Hurricanes just pressured them well throughout the whole of the game, and were able to generate more and better chances. Which means goaltending was a key to the Flyers’ win (but more on that later).
Power play: 9 CF, 4 SF, 1 HDCF
We’ll be direct here—the Flyers’ power play is still out here doing the thing. It was a pretty clean game, all in all, and the Flyers only saw a hair under four minutes in power play time, but they made do with it. They generated a fair number of chances but only had them make it on net four times, and came out with just the one high danger chance, and they also picked up a goal! The Flyers were only able to get a partial change, so it was neither the proper first nor second unit which recorded it, but Sean Couturier was able to pick up the goal, and that’s more momentum for the power play, folks.
Penalty kill: 6 CA, 5 SA, 2 HDCA
The Flyers didn’t see a whole lot of time on the penalty kill in this one either, just 4:09, and all told, they were able to keep the Hurricanes pretty well contained. They’ve been struggling on the power play of late, so the Flyers certainly got a bit of help from the fact that the Hurricanes are still trying to find a way to produce consistently, but the point remains that they Flyers’ penalty killers were able to limit some of their chances. They were able to get the two high danger chances in, and we don’t love that, and Hart had to bail the penalty killers out on those. This feels like a theme on the night, but while the process wasn’t perfect, it got the job done this time.
1. Travis Konecny
Yes, Konecny was a standout again. No, we’re not just recycling to same section from old articles to make our jobs easier. Konecny had himself a very good game last night, to the surprise of probably no one.
We thought he was going to have a highlight reel goal early, when Claude Giroux fed him a perfect pass from his knees to spring him on a partial breakaway and then… he couldn’t get the puck elevated enough to get it over Petr Mrazek’s shin pad. But not to worry! Redemption was on its way!
TK on the rebound! pic.twitter.com/QTUSi63Mhb— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 6, 2019
Konecny picked up his seventh goal of the season early in the third period, collecting a rebound and knocking it into the wide open net. this would be the ultimate game-winner, and also his 15th point in 14 games played. Like the rest of his line with Couturier and Oskar Lindblom, he was solid at 5-on-5, registering a 4.19 CF% Rel and a 53.92 xGF%, bringing some pretty sound underlying numbers to round out a solid night.
2. Carter Hart
Folks! Hart might be… back? It’s been a rough go for him over the past couple of weeks, but he got the start last night and he looked good! The team in front was not looking good to start, and Hart had a couple of early saves that had him looking a hair shaky as well. He started looking good but not great, but then he started to look great. The Hurricanes put up 34 shots last night across all situations, and Hart stopped 33 of them. He was tracking the puck very well all night, and he was able to stay sharp even as the skaters were having trouble breaking out of their own end. They needed some help to hang in this one, and Hart provided it. He looked more like his old self than he has in a handful of games, and this was encouraging to see.
3. Sean Couturier
Despite seemingly still battling with his shoulder issue—he only took one faceoff last night—it was a quietly very sound game for Couturier. His line with Konecny and Lindblom, as we said, continued to look sharp, and were effective at 5-on-5 even when the rest of the team was looking a bit flat.
Couturier redirects Niskanen's slap-pass into the net for the first goal of the game! pic.twitter.com/UNGfJe025m— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 6, 2019
All told, he picked up a goal (seen above) and a primary assist on Farabee’s goal, and also led the team in xGF%, with 59.61 percent (which was also 33.95 xGF% Rel). He wasn’t really the flashiest player on the ice, despite the bit of scoring punch he brought, but he was their most effective forward. In a game where the Hurricanes were able to dominate their matchups just about top to bottom, Couturier was able to run away with his.
Two loose observations
1. Messy, messy, messy
We alluded to the slow start already, but it’s worth talking about a bit more. The Hurricanes did well to pressure the Flyers throughout the game, but Flyers looked a bit out of sorts all on their own. The big piece was that they just didn’t all seem to be on the same page—in the offensive zone they were making assumptions about where a linemate would be, and that read was a little off, so the pass would be off and then the Canes had a chance to collect and get play moving in the other direction. And this felt, if nothing else, a little curious, given the fact that most of the lines had been in their current configurations for at least one game already. Maybe we aren’t past the growing pains after all, maybe they just didn’t have it to start, but whatever it was, they were hindering their own chances of grabbing some momentum early.
2. On perseverance
But, with that said, it’s also worth praising the work the Flyers did in rallying as the game went on. The Hurricanes still got the better of the play through the second two periods, but the Flyers did well to come out after the first intermission and work on limiting their own mistakes. They weren’t perfect, but they seemed to be connecting a bit better and moving a bit smoother. They were able to break out of their own end more consistently and were even able to sustain some pressure in the offensive zone. Hart was a huge reason why the Flyers were able to hang around in this one, but the team in front keeping from getting flustered and squeezing their sticks too hard made a big difference. They got out of their own way, and while they didn’t get the bulk of the chances, they were able to capitalize on the ones that they got. We’d like to see them tighten up some more going forward, but this was enough to get the job done this time.
The only damn thing I know
I’m not here to fully re-litigate this issue, because I know the discussion on them happened when they were first unveiled, but I’ve got to say, seeing them in person, I’m a big fan of the Hurricanes’ new away jerseys. They’re not really anything fancy, but I like a simple jersey that doesn’t try too hard. That’s all.