Well, that one certainly was an emotional roller coaster, now wasn’t it? The Flyers maybe made things a little more interesting than they needed to, but they were still able to pull off a win. Let’s take a quick look at what we learned in this game against the Red Wings before we hit this evening’s game… against… the Red Wings…? Who did this?
All stats via Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com
1. The fourth line, hello
While we were still settling into this game, if you will, our first observation came to us easily: the fourth line is out here doing things. Indeed, the fourth line, from their very first shift, were noticeable, coming out with energy and looking to get themselves on the board early. They combined for three proper shots, but totaled 11 shot attempts across the afternoon, and seemed to be buzzing. The bad news is that they weren’t able to break through and get themselves on the board, but the underlying process was undeniably sound. We’ve seen them show the ability to break through in the not-so-distant past, and if they keep up with playing the way they did yesterday, it seems only a matter of time before they’re able to do so again.
2. Ghost is back, no big deal
Folks, rumors of Shayne Gostisbehere’s demise have been greatly exaggerated, it would seem. Despite his run of inconsistent play, Gostisbehere seems to be trending upward, and he looked little short of stellar last night.
Patrick to Gostisbehere! pic.twitter.com/b7QCwyu1me— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 16, 2019
Just take a look at that goal. That snipe is vintage Gostisbehere, and didn’t much look like a player who’s lacking confidence in his shot. Indeed, he looked dominant offensively across the night, picking up an assist on Travis Konecny’s overtime winner, while also registering an adjusted 75.15 CF% at 5-on-5, putting him second among all skaters. After the game, he attributed this to being in a favorable offensive position, while Scott Gordon pointed to his decision making, his execution in the defensive zone in order to get him in a position to generate offense in the first place. And, whatever it was, we just hope that this is the slump breaking, and that we’re on the up and up, from here.
3. Okay, we see you, Robert
We threw this one into the outline as something of a passing note during the first period when things were happening but also not a lot of things we happening? You know what we mean.
Anyway, we wanted to toss a note of praise in here for Robert Hagg, He’s had something of a rough season, so far, but he did bring us a bit of flash in yesterday’s game. He was more immediately, positively noticeable, activating on the rush and taking steps to help generate offensively. It didn’t wind up turning into anything in the way of tangible offense in terms of points on the board, but the effort was certainly there, and, if nothing else, it was refreshing to see.
4. The power play
It’s time to get excited, folks! Because once again, the Flyers’ power play did the thing where we were just starting to think “wow this attempt doesn’t look all that great, so it goes” and then scored a goal. Take a look. Travis Konecny is a mind reader, I guess.
Howard is screened by two teammates, and Konecny strikes! pic.twitter.com/AartT7B8uX— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 16, 2019
This would be the only goal that the Flyers registered in their two attempts on the power play (though they did still put up three shots), but we’ll still take that. And particularly because of the source—would you look at that, the Flyers have a second unit that’s been able to produce more or less consistently since having been rearranged. I don’t know if I could tell you how long it’s been since we were able to say that, but it’s been a long time coming.
5. Starter Hart
Okay, let’s just get right to this. It wasn’t the strongest of showings that we’ve seen from Carter Hart. He hit some tough luck on that first goal, where the pass from Tyler Bertuzzi made its way all the way through traffic without hitting a single body and to Gustav Nyquist in front. They had been targeting those areas all night, trying to get him moving and exploit a bit of space, but on that one, there wasn’t much Hart could have done.
But, that said, outside of that one instance, Hart didn’t seem to be in top form. He was dropping low too early, and didn’t seem to be tracking the puck as well as he normally would. Everything was sort of breaking down in front of him, but we can’t pin all of that on them, when the Red Wings were making their comeback. It was just one of those rare games where Hart wasn’t making All Of The Timely Saves. It happens, he’ll just need to find a way to put it behind him and respond well in his next start.
6. There is justice in the world
We had a moment yesterday, early on, which saw the third line set up in the offensive zone and looking like they were working up to creating something dangerous. This turned into a chance for Scott Laughton, which he just missed on, had stopped. And this seemed to be the story for Laughton, of late. We’ve been throwing praise in his direction often for very sound underlying work in creating chances and playing a complete game, but he just hadn’t been able to score. And just as we were penciling this in as another one of those games, well, this happened.
Just 1:03 later and Laughton finally breaks his goal drought! pic.twitter.com/gYvmVgPICO— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 16, 2019
So, in a way, there is justice in the world. Laughton finally got that reward for his sound play and broke the goal drought. His underlying play remained solid in this one too, we should note, as he registered three shots and one high danger chance. But it was extra nice to see him get himself on the board, if we’re being honest.
7. Killing penalties
Not too much to say with the penalty kill, as again they only had the one showing on the afternoon, and really that isn’t the worst thing. You don’t want your team taking penalties so we’ll deal with not having a large sample to talk about. That’s just fine.
Anyway, the Flyers did well on that one penalty kill (when Andrew MacDonald was sent off for tripping), keeping the Red Wings from being able to really set up and get cycling, and even were able to set up a shortchanged chance that, even though it didn’t turn into a goal, ate up a good chunk of time. So it got the job done.
And all of this was well and good at the time, but it became even more important as the game went on. The Flyers killed that penalty with the lead, and that extra goal buffer proved critical to them at least getting to overtime. We don’t want to dip too deep into the realm of pure speculation, but we will say that this could well have been a very different game, if Detroit had gotten one back even earlier.
8. An offensive burst
We noted way back in the beginning of this that the first period wasn’t the most exciting period that we’ve ever seen, and it seems like both teams were saving their energy for an offensive onslaught later in the game. The Flyers kicked off the third period with theirs.
Voracek! Just 31 seconds in. pic.twitter.com/X3Ko0QTN9A— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 16, 2019
First up was Jake Voracek, with this goal just 31 seconds into the period. And for him, just as with Laughton, it seemed a deserved tally. He had been playing solidly in all zones throughout the game, and capped things off by picking up this goal. And somehow, it wasn’t even the nicest goal of the period (sorry, Jake).
Like Patrick, we're all after that goal. pic.twitter.com/uJU1ni2H9j— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 16, 2019
That title would probably have to go to Nolan Patrick. I mean, look at that. He takes a shot, has it blocked, and then manages to collect his own rebound and sneak it past Jimmy Howard. Just… very pretty.
And where we’re leading up to, with all of this, is just to say that we appreciate these goals for their aesthetic appeal and their validation factor, but also for their necessity in giving the Flyers a big enough lead that they could weather the Red Wings’ own offensive burst (more on that… not that much later. Just jump to the next point).
9. Vintage Flyers, oh my
Okay, yeah, wow. Maybe it’s a testament to how far we’ve come this season, in terms of headspace, but we really didn’t expect the sort of monumental collapse that happened early in the third period. That hasn’t happened since the first half of the season. We really thought we were past that.
It’s natural, in a way, to see a team give up a bit of space to their opponent when they’re nursing a substantial lead, but the Flyers just sort of fell apart in the third period. Scott Gordon broke it down for us after the game:
“Nothing really changed other than what we did when we went back for the puck. So in the first and second period we went back we broke out and they had less ozone time, we were more effective on our breakout. In the third period we starting icing the puck, throwing it to nobody, trying to chip out when there was probably a better option, and as a result we spent a lot of time in our zone which we hadn’t done up until we got our 5th goal and they got their second goal.”
They were fortunate that they had built up such a substantial lead, and that they were able to hold on long enough to get to overtime, but this apparently hasn’t been flushed all the way out of their systems. They still have a bit of cleaning up to do.
10. The only damn thing I know
We’re going to be talking a whole lot more about our new pal Cam Talbot down the stretch, you know, when he finally joins the team and plays for them, but for now we’re just going to sort of stew in all of the hypothetical situations and the… sort of hilarity that has been the goalie situation this year. I mean…
Can we just take a second to appreciate that the Flyers are going to set a record for Goaltending Instability this season and yet at the same time can rightly feel more optimistic about their long-term goalie situation than they've been able to in decades?— Kurt (@Kurt_BSH) February 16, 2019
It’s pretty wild. We all know that. and the season isn’t even over yet. It could still get weirder. (But like, maybe let’s not have that happen?)