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Flyers 6, Maple Leafs 1: Gone streaking

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Some observations for your morning...

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Ah yes. One of the most skilled teams in the league came to Philly last night and the Flyers, after heading into the third period with a 1-0 lead, left for the night with a 6-1 win over the Maple Leafs. Just as we all predicted.

All stats via Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com

How’d they look out there?

5-on-5: 53 CF, 26 SF, 57.56 CF%, 57.82 xGF%

In short, it was another very Flyers game that they put together last night. They started a little slow and gave the Leafs a good bit of space to work with in the first period, and as such let them get the better of play through much of the opening 20 minutes, but they really locked things down after that. The Leafs were still getting chances (less in the second period, but they bounced back some in the third) but the Flyers did well to keep them to the outside, allowing only five high danger chances in the final forty minutes after allowing five in the first twenty alone. And what’s even nicer is that the defense didn’t come at the expense of their offense—they didn’t just get the edge by giving up almost nothing and registering just slightly more—the offense was clicking well through most of the night. Things really broke open for them at the end of the third period, but they were creating chances all game, so we coming out of this one feeling like it was pretty close to a complete effort.

Power play: 6 CF, 1 SF, 1 HDCF

If you’re looking for a single image to really capture how things are going for the Flyers’ power play, look no further—on their first attempt of the night, they were showing some signs of life and Charlie turned to me to say something about how it looked like they might be able to get something going here, and then Ivan Provorov went for a shot and his stick shattered and the Leafs got the puck and chased the Flyers out of the offensive zone.

And such was something of the story of the night—they had a couple of stretches where they got a bit of puck movement going and looked like they might be able to threaten, but it was short-lived and nothing really came of it. And, in short, this remains a problem. One shot after six minutes of power play time just isn’t going to cut it. Given the result of the game, it’s hard to get too worked up, but this is something that the Flyers need to fix, before it does start to hurt their chances of winning game or has them leaving points on the table.

Penalty kill: 6 CA, 6 SA, 2 HDCA

We only saw the Flyers out there for two minutes on the penalty kill, so there isn’t a whole lot to talk about here. It wasn’t really their prettiest showing, as the Leafs were still able to get a good few chances on the power play—they were able to get a bit of a cycle going and the Flyers, for a bit, didn’t really have an answer for it, they just had to weather it and look to get in some lanes and hope to break up a pass attempt. They were eventually able to break the puck out (and also registered two shorthanded shot attempts) and successfully killed the penalty, so all’s well that ends well, we supposed.

Three standouts

1. Carter Hart

As we alluded to in the section on the team’s 5-on-5 play, the Flyers got off to something of a slow start once again, and it was up to Hart to keep the team afloat while they figured it out. Hart faced 15 shots against and seven high danger chances across all situations in the first 20 minutes and had to make a couple of nifty saves to ensure that they hit the first intermission scoreless. Hart was on to start, and this remained the case through the rest of the game, even if he didn’t have to face quite as much activity in the final two periods. In the end, he stopped 27 of the 28 shots he faced, only letting in the one goal that came from a truly weird play which saw the puck bounce off his shoulder, straight up in the air, and then straight down behind him. it was flukey, and it’s hard to get too upset about it, especially considering the result. But once again, Hart came up big for them when he really needed to.

2. Travis Konecny

There’s really no sense beating around the bush here—Travis Konecny had himself quite the game last night. He picked up a goal on the night which was neat, but also there was this assist on Giroux’s goal and please just look at it, it was so good.

Overall, Konecny had a very good night. At 5-on-5, he lead the team with an adjusted 92.07 CF% and 98.60 xGF% and no, that’s not a typo. His line with Morgan Frost and Claude Giroux continues to look sharp, but the Flyers flat out dominated with him on the ice last night. There’s not a whole lot that we can complain about here. The Leafs were changing up their lines a bit as the night went on, and the Flyers weren’t doing a ton of really strict line matching with this line, so they faced a number of different players over the course of the game, and they won their matchup no matter what.

And also, him mixing it up a bit with Travis Dermott was objectively pretty funny. Okay, that’s all.

3. Philippe Myers

There were a lot of standout performances last night and it was very hard to choose just one last one, and I’m going a little off-board, here, please don’t yell at me.

Anyway, despite a bit of uncertainty leading up to the game on whether Myers would actually be playing—a three player rotation on the third pair will do that to you—he came out last night with partner Shayne Gostisbehere and had himself a solid night. He picked up two assists on the night, and while it’s always nice to see him racking up some points, his overall game, outside of the tallies on the scoresheet, was strong. (But before we get into that, let’s relive that feed to Konecny for his goal).

His underlying numbers were good in this one, with a 70.31 CF% and 80.08 xGF%, which is nice to see on its own, but especially when you consider that he hasn’t put up the best underlying numbers so far this season, with or without Gostisbehere. So this was an encouraging sign.

After the game, he talked a little about how he’s been trying to make sure he can just take care of the defense and just let the rest take care of itself, and this, coming from a player who has sometimes been guilty of trying to do too much at once, is a refreshing thing to hear. He’s working on not over-complicating things, and it seems to be working out well. He has all of the tools to be successful, and when he’s not forcing it and just letting them work like he was last night, it can be a real treat to watch.

Two loose observations

1. Second period dominance continues

The scoring onslaught that the Flyers were able to put together through the back half of the third period is what really stands out, once again, was how they were able to start their surge in the second period and really work to take over the game. This isn’t a new occurrence to us by now—the Flyers have proved to be a very good second period team after struggling a bit in first periods—but the trend is continuing and it’s continuing to pay dividends. They picked up the lone goal of the second period and worked well to pull back the edge in territorial play.

After the game, Kevin Hayes called this the closest 6-1 game he’s ever been a part of, and in a way, we understand what he means here. Toronto let off the gas in a big way to close this one out, which is how the score ended up looking so lopsided, but even when the score was closer, the Flyers were still working to make sure they were getting the better of play, on the whole. And sometimes this means that you can capitalize on an opponent’s tailspin like they did last night. But mostly it just means that you can close out a game strong, and not give up chances for free for your opponents to get back in it. The Flyers pretty well slammed the door on the Leafs last night, and made it a tidy win.

2. A good team win

It’s become a bit trite to say it, but we have to, in this case—this was a good team win for the Flyers. It wasn’t perfect, but they were able to buckle down and get the job done. Goaltending was there for them. Their defense, overall, was sound. And they were able to get scoring and quality chances from up and down the lineup, forwards and defensemen alike. And all of this coming against a team that’s been overhauling their systems a bit since the last time we saw them, making them a bit harder to prepare for.

And, in short, all of this is encouraging. We’re not too far removed from the Flyers having that stretch where they didn’t look too far away from being just a one line team, with how Sean Couturier’s line was producing and everyone else was lagging a bit behind. It’s all really starting to come together for them.

The only damn thing I know

Did anybody else catch the video of the Flames blasting “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None The Richer at their practice? It was kind of hilarious, and I’m going to drop it here in case you missed it.

I know the Flyers are coming off of a very productive November and a 6-1 win last night, and all of that is fun for a lot of different reasons. But I’m also a little jealous of the weird music blasting at practice type of fun. That one was the perfect choice too. Just weird enough. I’m super into it.