The Flyers, after a tough loss against San Jose last night were right back at it in Anaheim and looking to get themselves back on track against a struggling Ducks team. And things started out, well, not ideally. Just 35 seconds into the game, Erik Gudbranson threw a sort of wobbly shot in on Brian Elliott through traffic and got the Ducks a very early lead.
It’s not all bad news, though—the Flyers picked up a bit of steam as the period went on. It wasn’t a perfect effort, as they looked a bit out of sorts at times, like they just weren’t really connecting on the plays they wanted to be making. They started to get some results in the second period, which saw a nifty goal from Sean Couturier to tie things up, and the team limiting the Ducks to just five shots across the whole of the period.
The third period saw things open up a good bit—we had some more running and gunning to deal with, and the Ducks got themselves back into the game. They had some power play time (including a lengthy 5-on-3), but the Flyers were able to kill all of that off to keep things tied up. We saw a bit more back and forth and a few good chances for each side, but the goalies came up big, and we were off to bonus hockey in a late start game. Woo.
The Flyers got the first really good chance of overtime from who else but Couturier, but he couldn’t get it past Gibson, but they maintained possession and picked up another chance before giving the puck back to the Ducks. Anaheim couldn’t do much with their chance, and the Flyers took over possession once again, and chances where there for Travis Konecny and James van Riemsdyk not long after, but still they wouldn’t go. Patience wound up being the key in this one, as the Flyers broke up a Ducks cycle at the one end, and then Jake Voracek fed Kevin Hayes with a stretch pass and he walked right in to pick up the game winner. And the Flyers bounced back to get the win.
1. Sean Couturier
Offense was a bit difficult to come by in this one, so we’ve got a major hat tip to extend to Couturier for being able to put a puck in the back of the net to get the Flyers back in the game. It was a pretty nice goal, let’s have a look at it again.
Couturier bangs home the rebound, and we're all tied up! pic.twitter.com/l7AzCN0jsO— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 30, 2019
Overall, it was a really solid game for Couturier—outside of the goal, he picked up five shot attempts and a team-high four high danger chances, and then one really close chance in overtime. His line had some jump and won their matchup pretty handily. It’s games like this, when offense is a bit sparse, that you need your big guns to step up and find ways to produce tangibly, and Couturier was able to do just that.
2. Brian Elliott
That goal early in the first period was pretty ugly, as we said already, and we might have been getting ready for an ugly game from Elliott, and he did well to prove those expectations wrong. He didn’t see much activity consistently through this game (with the lull in the second period that we mentioned earlier), but on the whole, Elliott was able to settle in well as the game went on, stopping 25 of the 26 total shots he faced. The Ducks had a handful of really good chances in this one, and very well could have pulled further ahead in this game, but Elliott came up big and was able to keep the team in this one. His huge save in overtime kept them alive and ultimately led to Voracek getting the puck and sending it off to Hayes for the game winner. In short, they really wouldn’t have been able to do this without him being as solid as he was.
3. Nicolas Aube-Kubel
We’ll be talking even more about it in a little bit, but the team’s energy level was a big open question coming into this one, and while the team as a whole’s level was pretty good, Aube-Kubel was one who really stood out as being able to bring some energy on each of his shifts. He was skating well and generating a good number of chances—five shot attempts and two shots in total—and just overall looked sharp on the night. He took a penalty for slashing as well, and we don’t really love that, but it was also a case of Ondrej Kase needing to have a better hold on his stick, objectively. But so it goes. Overall, it was a good game for him, and he continues to impress.
Two big questions
1. Will the effort be there?
Effort, yes. After looking a little listless at times against the Sharks last night, the Flyers came out with some jump and were largely able to keep from looking listless or just plain gassed through much of this one. Overall, they were skating well and able to keep their energy level up, despite being the tired team in this matchup. As we mentioned in the introduction, the execution may not have been 100 percent there throughout, but the Flyers were still working well to get their chances. They were engaged, and that’s what we really needed to see.
2. Can the power play look... competent?
The short answer, here, is no. The Flyers’ power play has been struggling a good bit of late, and tonight didn’t have them looking markedly better. They had one good chance from Matt Niskanen in the second period, but on the whole, it was a lot of nothing from the Flyers. In just over three minutes of power play time, the Flyers only registered two shot attempts and one proper shot on goal. Again, they struggled to build much momentum, or even maintain much offensive zone time. They didn’t look particularly sharp, and the struggles continue on the man-advantage. Whomp whomp.
Play of the game
This wasn’t really a play, per se, but shoutout to whoever got caught yelling “shut the fuck up” on one of the mics at ice level. I think it was one of the officials, but I’m not certain. Whoever it was, I feel the same, and it was glorious.