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Flyers 4, Ducks 1: Back on track

Some observations for your morning...

Anaheim Ducks v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

They did it, gang! The Flyers came back home and after taking a moment to collect themselves, they were able to rally and pick up a handy win over the Anaheim Ducks last night to stop their losing streak in its tracks. Travis Konecny made his return to the lineup and had sort of a weird one—almost had a really nice setup from behind the net on his very first shift, also fell down a bunch of times—but seemed overall like he’d hardly missed a beat. The big guns came through, as Carter Hart stopped 40 of the 41 shots he faced and Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Jakub Voracek all picked up goals on the night, but David Kase came through with the game winner in a delightful bit of continuity. The Flyers needed a win last night, and they sure got it.

All stats via Natural Stat Trick.

1. By the numbers… not the Flyers’ night

Despite the win, in terms of process, this wasn’t the Flyers’ best night. The breakouts were an issue particularly in the first period, but we saw their struggles to break the puck out of the defensive zone with possession, or really at all, cropping up in pockets throughout the rest of the game. Which means that the Ducks got a number of chances more or less for free and took a pretty commanding edge in the territorial battle. In the end, the Flyers came out of this one with an adjusted 42. 04 CF% and 31.45 xGF% at 5-on-5, which is just not very good. The Ducks put up 64 shot attempts and 41 shots on goal across all situations, and if it weren’t for Hart being on his game, it’s not hard to envision a scenario in which the game got much, much uglier. But it didn’t. instead, the Flyers weathered the storm and made the most of their own opportunities, and in the end, this was enough. We wouldn’t exactly call this process a recipe for success, but in this case, we’ll just take the win.

2. The penalty kill shines once again

Overall, as has been overwhelming the case of late, the Flyers’ penalty kill had themselves another solid night. Anaheim had some trouble of their own in connecting and keeping their passes clean, which almost certainly helped the Flyers out in this one, but their own work was also sound. They were able to pretty well limit the number of chances the Ducks got (and picked up a couple of shorthanded chances of their own) on their five power play attempts, holding them to just seven shot attempts and two high danger chances. They did give up the one goal against, but with that shot deflecting at least once on its way in, it’s hard to blame that one exclusively on poor penalty killing. It’s just bad luck too.

We probably saw the penalty kill more than we should have, because the Flyers took a couple of dumb penalties last night, but at least they (mostly) came through for them in the end.

3. It was David Kase’s night

The Flyers got some big contributions last night from Giroux, Voracek, and Couturier, but it really was Kase’s night, in the end. Recalled form the Phantoms last week for the road trip, he made his debut at home last night and pretty swiftly picked up his first NHL goal.

Maybe not the prettiest first NHL goal he could have imagined, but they all count, and it was exciting to see him get it.

But outside of the immediate flash of the goal, Kase continues to impress. The most immediately noticeable piece of his game is just how he always seems to be going—with his speed and pretty relentless forechecking, he just always seems like he’s got his motor going, if you will. He’s always trying to make something happen. And he also showed a bit of physicality, a willingness to dish out or take a hit, which was somewhat striking for a smaller player. And what’s more, he’s showing some early chemistry with linemates Voracek and Morgan Frost, as this line combined for two of the Flyers’ four goals last night. They didn’t win their territorial matchup—a 35.45 CF% and 43.48 xGF%, hello—but these were also struggles we saw across the board for the Flyers last night. In short, there were a lot of positives to take from this one on Kase, and he’s doing well to impress in his first NHL stint. He might be pretty good, folks.

5. New kid check

We’ve got a whole bunch of very-to-relatively new faces with the team now, outside of Kase, so it’s worth taking a moment to check in on the rest of them. You know, in the interest of fairness.

Andy Andreoff isn’t technically a kid, but a more general “new guy check” just didn’t sound as good, so we’re rolling with this instead. Anyway, in his first game back with the Flyers was a fine one. It wasn’t terribly flashy, but that’s not what we’re supposed to expect from him. He played just a hair over six and a half minutes and registered one shot (a high danger chance) and overall just looked solid in that brief time. No complaints here.

Mikhail Vorobyev has been with the team for just about two weeks now, and he’s been continuing to show some flash. His overall 5-on-5 play was pretty sound—the numbers, like a 32.04 CF% don’t really agree with that, but outside of a failed zone exit or two, we don’t have much in the way of particular complaints. The biggest piece here is that we’re continuing to see him looking engaged in play, and that consistency is something that’s been lacking in his previous recalls. It remains to be seen if this will continue, but so far so good.

But perhaps the most impressive of this bunch, on the night, was Nicolas Aube-Kubel. He’s back and finally getting a more significant role, and he’s seeming to flourish in it. His strong forechecking stood out the most in this game, and as one of his strengths in the minors, it’s nice to see this translating with ease to the NHL level. Personnel likely had a role in this as well, but he also got a look on the penalty kill late in the game and also showed some promise there as well. He’s getting a chance to play in the top nine and on special teams, and he seems to be running with it. He’s looking effective so far, and in some ways it looks like a wonder how he wasn’t with the team much earlier.

5. Stopping the spiral

This was a big win. There was the obvious part of this, because it was the night that the Flyers were going to be honoring Oskar Lindblom, the first home game since we all received word of his diagnosis. The win, symbolically, was a big one considering the context.

But from a purely hockey perspective, this win was important to just help them stop the bleeding. It was understandable that they would have been more than a little rattled on the road trip, given the news that they received, but it was also true that at a certain point, they had to pull it back together some and not let the on-ice product suffer. We were willing to give them some leeway, sure, but it had to happen sooner or later. That said, last night’s win feels like a step in the right direction. They didn’t completely dominate this game, but they were present and engaged, and looking closer to themselves. And if this was a step towards stopping the mini-slide they were in, so be it.

The only damn thing I know

We touched on how Kase had a solid game last night, but I also wanted to close out by saying that it’s pretty impossible to understate how perfect it must have been for him on a personal level. To have his first NHL goal be the game winner in hist first home game, his first game against his older brother, and with his parents in the stands. It’s all just lovely and perfect and it’s hard not to appreciate that.