You guys! The Flyers won in overtime last night! That’s two wins in a row! They’ve got a tough weekend coming up, and we’re not quite sure what to expect from back to back games in Toronto and Boston, but we’re not quite there yet. Let’s just bask in the glory of another win, shall we?
All stats via Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com
How’d they look out there?
5-on-5: 49 CF, 31 SF, 53.29 CF%, 56.05 xGF%
Remember after Tuesday’s game, when we talked about how the Flyers’ process and underlying numbers weren’t particularly great, even if they got the results they wanted? Well, it looks like they absolutely, definitely, for sure listened to our concerns, and brought a much more complete effort in last night’s game. Their start, again, was a little rough (more on that later), but they started to pull things together about halfway through the period, and really started to run away with the momentum. In the second they looked flat out dominant, and even as the Canadiens started to surge in the third, the Flyers still got the better of the territorial play.
Our big complaint, though, would be how they let the Canadiens claw their way back in this one. A couple of ill-timed breakdowns gave the Canadiens their chances to make this game a lot closer than it probably should have been. It’s hard to expect perfection, and the Flyers did play overall a very good game, and that just makes those couple of costly mistakes sting a bit more.
Power play: 17 CF, 10 SF, 0 HDCF
We’ll be brief here—given the fact that the Flyers were handed six chances on the man-advantage to really run away with this game, power play didn’t really look all that powerful at all. They struggled with their entries, and when they were finally able to get into the zone, they had trouble connecting on more than a couple of passes in a row before they were chased out of the zone again. They did pick up the one goal—van Riemsdyk’s—just after the penalty expired, and we can call this close to a power play goal, but where it really mattered, they came up short. In short, with all of the chances they were given, they should have had more to show for it.
Penalty kill: n/a
Somehow, despite drawing six penalties, they didn’t take a single one of their own. In that case, I guess the real penalty kill was the friends we made along the way.
1. Carter Hart
Hart didn’t have quite the same workload as he did against the Hurricanes, as he only faced 24 shots in total and didn’t have any Montreal power plays to deal with, but he still played a very solid game. As was the case on Tuesday, he was tracking the puck very well, and his positioning looked much better, on the whole. He wasn’t tested too severely, only eight high danger chances against, but he came up big for the team.
His only really major blunder came on the Ben Chiarot goal, when he kicked the rebound of the initial shot right into the slot for Chiarot to grab and shoot. We could probably argue that there should have been a skater there to help bail him out, but there wasn’t, and this is all to say that this was a tough play, but we aren’t leaving him with all of the blame. Because otherwise, he played another really good game.
2. Philippe Myers
Perhaps one of the best things to see out of a young player working himself into a role in the NHL is that he’s working to work on the finer points of his game that need smoothing out. Myers, so date, has struggled to get shots through to the net, which seems like kind of a big issue for a player with offensive instincts like his. It’s something he’s been working on, and it looks like it’s starting to pay off.
His game, overall, was solid, as beyond the goal, he registered five individual shot attempts and an adjusted 64.10 xGF% at 5-on-5, both of which ranked him fourth among skaters and first among defensemen. He’s stringing together more and more strong showings, and making it harder for the Flyers to even consider pulling him out of the lineup.
3. James van Riemsdyk
We said it earlier, but let’s touch on it again—van Riemsdyk picked up another goal last night (his fourth of the season) just as the Flyers’ power play was ended early in the second period in very van Riemsdyk fashion. Let’s have another look, shall we?
Byron whiffs on a chance to clear and JVR puts the Flyers up by 2! pic.twitter.com/6WXfGYHe2t— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) November 8, 2019
We like his individual offensive results, but what’s most encouraging is how his line is continuing to look sharp. They were struggling for a bit, but since Joel Farabee’s been added, they’re looking better, and even more so as they build up more chemistry. Van Riemsdyk put up an adjusted 59.79 CF% and 96.15 xGF% at 5-on-5, which was just about even with his line as a whole (56.05 CF% and 96.63 xGF%). They’re looking like they’re tapping into something special, and we’re eager to see if they can keep it up.
Two loose observations
1. A little messy again
We talked in the first section about how the Flyers’ process was much better in this game, but we should also make a quick note that it still wasn’t perfect. After Tuesday’s game we talked some about how the Flyers looked a little out of sync in the offensive zone, and while we didn’t see that to the same extent last night, there were still flashes of it. They were doing well to get cycling and trying for chances in close, but they weren’t always connecting on them—a pass would sail straight through the crease and just a few feet away from a teammate who might have otherwise been able to take a shot there. It was better, but there were still moments where they didn’t seem to have their reads on each other’s positioning one hundred percent down. It was better, but not all the way there.
2. A note on transition
We also alluded to the Flyers’ very strong second period earlier, and one of the biggest keys to this was how they were able to clean up their breakouts a bit and work to move up-ice in transition much smoother than they were in the first half or so of the first. They were able to break out with control more consistently, and the subsequently blow through the middle of the ice and enter the offensive zone with control, and the Habs’ neutral zone forecheck didn’t really have an answer for that. The Flyers lost a bit of steam in this department as the game went on and the Canadiens hit desperation mode and started to push more, but their play in the middle frame had them looking extremely dangerous. More of that, please.
The only damn thing I know
Charlie and I were talking during the game, because he’s putting together a playlist of songs they play in the arena that he likes, and I’ve decided as much as I’d like to, I could never be the in-arena music person. Because it would all be emo deep cuts and indie songs no one knows. I’d throw on Konstantine at intermission and let the whole thing play, cackling in my seat while everyone looks around nervously. It’s probably bad. But maybe good if you love chaos. Either way.