This game went kind of just about as we expected, no? With an increasingly beat-up Flyers team heading into Colorado to face an Avalanche team that was getting a bit healthier themselves, and also just coming off a recently snapped six game winning streak, we worried that this one might end up being rough on the Flyers, and that wound up being true. They had some positive stretches, but in the end it was the Avalanche’s stars that had then beat, that they couldn’t keep bottled up, and the Flyers dropped this one 3-1. So it goes.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick.
How’d they look out there?
5-on-5: 46 CF, 29 SF, 48.83 CF%, 40.42 xGF%
After a positively brutal first period, which saw the Flyers only register nine shot attempts and six shots, and just about hanging on for dear life through the final minutes as the Avalanche were continuing to build up momentum, they were able to buckle down some as the game went on and keep things a bit more even. They limited the Avalanche to just five shots in the second period, but couldn’t hold on to that momentum through the rest of the game. The Avalanche picked up steam and the Flyers struggled some against their speed and the skill of their forwards, just about top to bottom. The numbers show an effort from a team that had some flashes, that didn’t get completely torched, but still fell a little short, and this just about matches what the eye tells us.
Power play: 4 CF, 3 SF, 2 HDCF
It wasn’t a terribly long look that we got at the power play last night, as they only got just over two and a half minutes of time on the ice, but what we got from them was, well, a lot of what we’ve been seeing on the whole recently. They struggled some with their entries and to move the puck cleanly in the offensive zone when they ultimately did get past the blue line. They did get a couple of good looks, but there still wasn’t a ton of pressure put on Pavel Francouz. Colorado’s penalty kill did well to keep them chased out of the offensive zone (they picked up two shorthanded shots as well) and limited the number of shots that made it through. And the power play struggles continued.
Penalty kill: 1 CA, 0 SA, 0 HDCA
On the flip side, we saw just about the same amount of the penalty kill last night, but we can come away feeling just a bit better about their efforts on the evening. The Avalanche, already obviously a very skilled team, look even more dangerous with all of that firepower on the power play, and the Flyers did well to shut them down. They weren’t able to completely keep them from getting some cycling going, and that made us a little nervous to watch, but in the end, they were able to limit the Avalanche to just one shot attempt in just over two and a half minutes, and didn’t let any shots through. Not a bad showing, at the end of the day.
1. Carter Hart
Despite how this one ended up, the Flyers were in the game for more than a good bit of it. They had a difficult task, trying to compose themselves and steal back some momentum, especially with the Avalanche surging late in the first period, and the real reason they were able to stay in it for so long was Hart’s efforts. He was solid just about all night, but really, he should be first standout for this save alone.
It feels a little strange to pick out the goalie as a positive standout in a game where he gave up three goals on 28 shots, but it’s hard to blame Hart for those—he was getting just about zero help from the skaters in front, it was just defensive breakdowns on defensive breakdown, and there’s only so much your goaltender can do there. We’re not too fussed about Hart’s performance, in fact, he deserved better here.
2. Claude Giroux
The Flyers only scored one goal last night, so we’re tossing a bit of credit in the direction of the only player who was able to get himself on the board, so Claude Giroux, hello! It was looking like the Flyers were going to be shut out in this one, but Giroux came through as the third period was starting to wind down, and gave us this pretty nice goal.
Giroux breaks the shutout bid. pic.twitter.com/WeIGWsFDKQ— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 12, 2019
Also, we have to give some credit to Jake Voracek on that pass there. It was just really lovely. More of that.
All told, Giroux had a pretty solid night—we saw the most of his line at 5-on-5, and they came out with the edge in their matchup, putting up an adjusted 69.90 CF% and 64.93 xGF%. Would we have liked to see them do a bit more with that edge in possession? Sure. But all in all, not a bad showing, all things considered.
3. David Kase
This is cheating a little bit, because we went into this one planning on watching Kase extra closely because he was playing in his first NHL game, but we’re still rolling with it. We got a pretty limited look at Kase, as he played just 7:46 last night, but he showed a bit of flash. He brought a bit of speed and elusiveness, and even set up what was very nearly a dangerous scoring chance, to boot. The numbers were behind him as well, as he put up and adjusted 66.17 CF% and 72.36 xGF% at 5-on-5.
The big first step with these call-ups is, as always, just to prove that they can hang at the NHL level. It’s admittedly still a small sample that we’re working with here, but the first signs for Kase seem positive.
Two loose observations
1. Mixed feelings
As this section title suggests, as we’re looking for a big takeaway from this game, what we’re left with are mostly some mixed feelings. The Flyers did show some flashes of brilliance in last night’s game, they were able to generate a handful of very nice scoring chances, even if they weren’t able to close on them (except for the one). They also played some solid team defense, albeit in spurts, as they held the Avalanche to just eight shot attempts and five shots at 5-on-5 in the second period. And we can feel good about that.
But they also fell victim to some pretty ugly breakdowns, and at times didn’t seem like a match for Colorado’s speed. And maybe that’s not a completely fair critique, all things considered—there aren’t too many teams that are fully built to compete with the Avalanche’s speed, and the Flyers are missing some of their players that would help them do that anyway—but it is something to keep in the back of our minds. If playing against very fast teams continues to be an issue as the season goes on and the *softly* playoffs near, well, then we may have a bigger issue on our hands.
2. We’re okay with throwing this one in the trash
This was a tough one for the Flyers. They came in unexpectedly beat up, having just called up a couple of players with not much NHL experience, and having to substitute two more in that don’t much help their speed game, and were thrown out there against one of the better and faster teams in the league. And it went just about as expected, really.
And maybe it’s worth bringing a little perspective into this one—we don’t particularly like how this game went and how it ended, but there are 81 more in the season to hopefully offset it a little bit. We’re entitled to feeling a little grumbly about this being what we got for staying up late to watch this game, but we’re also bound to get a couple of these a season. It’s not great, but that’s hockey. The cards were pretty well stacked against the Flyers in this one. On to the next one.
The only damn thing I know
National broadcasts are the bane of my existence. There’s nothing I love more than the moment of panic that sets in when you prepare for a 9:30 start, and then 9:30 rolls around and you turn on the channel that’s supposed to have the Flyers game on and there’s still like 10 minutes left to go in the Capitals game. Please. I’m a grandma and I’m already so tired. Just start the game on time. I’m begging you.