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Flyers 4, Senators 3: Revenge?

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Some observations for your morning...

NHL: DEC 07 Senators at Flyers Photo by Nicole Fridling/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We were very, very close to having to come in here and talk about the Flyers falling for another trap game and losing to the Ottawa Senators, but a late-game push saw the Flyers grabbing some momentum and being able to pull ahead for the win, just as we came in expecting them to do. It might have been closer than we expected, but they got the win in the end. It was a weird one, with an injury early and quite a bit of chipiness throughout, but so it goes. Let’s talk about it.

All stats via NHL.com and Natural Stat Trick.

How’d they look out there?

5-on-5: 34 CF, 19 SF, 47.61 CF%. 41.54 xGF%

The numbers ended up relatively close to even, thanks to a bit of a surge by the Flyers early in the third period, but Ottawa still got the better of play at 5-on-5 yesterday. The Flyers came out with some jump but really struggled to hold on to their momentum after the first half of the period. Ottawa pretty well took over and the Flyers just looked like they were trying to hold on for dear life. It was a pretty distinct departure from Thursday’s game, when they were able to put together a very good amount of puck possession time, as Ottawa pretty well dominated through longer stretches in this one. The Flyers made their chances count, but they were limited and had themselves kept pretty well to the outside. Not their sharpest effort.

Power play: 0 CF, 0 SF, 0 HDCF

We didn’t really get a very long look at the Flyers’ power play yesterday—it was 2:25 but the last 25 seconds were right at the end of the third period and the game was effectively over and while they didn’t really do a whole lot there, given the time in the game, it doesn’t matter much.

So we’re going to talk about the other two minutes and they were, well, they also weren’t very good. They struggled to get the puck moving cleanly and had it cleared out of the zone, all the way down the ice. And then there was some kind of mixup between Carter Hart and Shayne Gostisbehere that ended it in Anthony Duclair forcing a turnover and picking up a shorthanded goal. The Flyers had a bit more power play time to work with after that, but it was more nothing from them.

It’s a small sample that we’re working with in this game, and who knows, maybe if they’d gotten a couple more chances, they would have looked better. But in the one they did have yesterday, they continued to struggle.

Penalty kill: 14 CA, 10 SA, 5 HDCA

As for the penalty kill, we saw a good bit more of them, as they played just under five and a half minutes, and it was something of a mixed bag. Looking at the numbers, we can feel pretty confident saying that this wasn’t their best showing, given the number of chances that they allowed and the number of big stops that Carter Hart was asked to make. The good news, though, is that they didn’t spend the whole time in their own end, and there was one really nice shorthanded rush by Sean Couturier and Oskar Lindblom that was mixed in with the couple of clears they got, but they did spend a bit more time in their own zone than we’ve seen.

But hey, in the end, they got the job done and came up big for the team when they needed them to.

Three standouts

1. Scott Laughton

There isn’t really even a question here, Laughton was the first star of the game. The flashiest pieces came as he picked up an assist on Ivan Provorov’s game-tying goal, and then the game winning goal (and just looking so pumped after doing it).

The numbers weren’t all there for him (a 46.19 CF% and 46.06 xGF%), but Laughton was still doing some good work outside of scoring. He had three shots on the afternoon, which was good for second on the team (first among forwards), and picked up one of the team’s only three high danger chances generated. He was still working well to create chances and make things happen while he was on the ice, while also bringing a bit of physicality and instigating that got well enough under the opponents’ skin. He elevated his play some to get his team the win, and it’s hard to complain about that.

2. Ivan Provorov

Early in the third period yesterday, I was starting to think about outlining this section, and wondering who I wanted to talk about as a standout in this game. I had the thought “well, Provorov has been having a pretty good game, maybe I could sneak him in there?” And then he went and did this, really solidifying things.

The game tying goal was very nice and obviously much needed, and it caps off a game for Provorov that was, overall, solid. He came out of this one with an adjusted 53.94 CF% and 55.74 xGF%, so the Flyers, while they weren’t able to dominate all of their matchups, were at least able to in both shot quantity and quality while Provorov was on the ice. And, we should add, all of this was the case while he was put out largely against Ottawa’s top line. So it wasn’t an easy task for him, but he did what was asked of him last night (and then some).

3. Carter Hart

We’ve already talked some about how the Flyers didn’t play their best game of the season yesterday, and they did a fair bit of shooting themselves in the foot throughout, and in some ways it’s a small miracle that this game didn’t get completely out of hand like it did in these two teams’ first meeting. And, as he stopped 27 of the 30 shots he faced (including nine of 10 high danger shots against), we have Hart to thank for that.

The miscue with Gostisbehere that led to the first Duclair goal was ugly, and Hart really should have made the save there. That was rough. It certainly wasn’t a perfect showing by any means, but there were longer stretches when the team in front wasn’t doing a whole lot to help him out, and he had to come up with the big saves. He had a couple of ugly individual moments, but he was able to keep this game as a whole from getting really ugly. And we have to give him credit for that.

Two loose observations

1. A victory in all senses but moral

The Flyers pulled off the win in this one, and we’re not really supposed to get too fussed about that. A win’s a win, right? Except we can’t really help leaving this one with a bit of a bad taste in our mouths. The first few minutes of the first period were really solid, but then the Senators started to take over and had the Flyers back on their heels. Its’ the same thing that happened the last time we saw the Senators, and maybe this is a team that somehow has the Flyers’ number, but this really isn’t a thing that should be happening. We’ve seen the Flyers fully dominate play against objectively very good teams, and while we don’t expect that they’re going to be one hundred percent on every night (that’s just not completely fair) they also can’t be letting a team like Ottawa with a much weaker roster run through them like that.

The recent process overall has been sound, but yesterday they took a bit of a step back.

2. A note on grit and physicality

I’m personally generally pretty apathetic to fighting and general rough stuff in hockey, but I know I may be something of a minority there, so we’re going to spend a bit of time talking about it here. Yesterday’s game got pretty chippy after the hit on Konecny, and there was a real sense that the players on both sides had a particularly low tolerance for getting pushed around, so we got our fair share of rough stuff.

There were some concerns kicking around that there wasn’t going to be anyone left who could hold their own in this, to stand up for their teammates, once Wayne Simmonds was traded, and it seems like yesterday went a long way to putting those concerns to rest. The Flyers didn’t have a straight up “fighter” in the lineup, but they got Jake Voracek and Joel Farabee fighting, and Scott Laughton doing some instigating and mixing it up. So at least we do have players who are willing to step up. Are we happy with that? If it’s not one guy who does it all of the time, but a mix who can kind of take turns?

The only damn thing I know

This is a continuation of our Laughton appreciation section. The one loose end that we have left is just to appreciate him going out there and scoring on the Senators, doing a huge celebration, and then chirping the Senators’ bench as he skated past. It was amazing and he’s perfect. I’m not accepting @s at this time.