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Flyers 4, Penguins 3: Sweet, sweet outdoor victory

Some observations for your morning...

NHL: Stadium Series-Pittsburgh Penguins at Philadelphia Flyers Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Can you believe it? The Flyers finally won an outdoor game! It really happened! And we’re here with a somewhat abbreviated selection of things we learned because, let’s be honest the conditions were far from favorable in this one and it’s hard to make too many notes about level of play when the ice is covered in puddles and all of the players can barely through their visors with all of the rain. But we’ve got a couple notes for you fine folks.

All stats via Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com

1. Shots and all

Normally this is a section that save for later in the article, but we’re just going to get it out of the way early. Let’s get weird.

Anyway, this wasn’t the best night we’ve seen from the Flyers on the shot generation front. Things started out pretty rough, as the Flyers were out-shot 18 to eight and out-chanced 26 to 11 in the first period alone. They were able to come back some, and dominating in the third period (picking up 18 shots to the Penguins’ 10, and 32 attempts to their 16 across all situations) helped them pick up some ground, but they still closed out the game with an adjusted 40.92 CF%. So it seems this was an example of the Flyers being opportunistic, and making the most of their chances when they got them, and we can’t complaint too much, given the ultimate result, even if we know the overall process left a bit to be desired.

2. The Couturier line shines again

Another day, another game where we have to extend a nod to Sean Couturier’s line for a bit of very good work. Let’s just get the first bit of flash out of the way, first, in the form of this nice feed form Oskar Lindblom to Couturier for the goal that tied things up for the Flyers the first time.

All in all, the line looked solid across the whole of the night. The numbers for everyone on the Flyers (save Michael Raffl and Wayne Simmonds, who managed to crack 50 CF%) weren’t great, but Couturier and Lindblom registered 3.15 and 4.57 CF%Rel, and the two of them plus Jake Voracek combined for seven shots (accounting for just over 30 percent of the team’s 5-on-5 shots). It’s not a surprising outcome, as this line has performed very well, of late, but it was nice to see them continuing to produce on this this bigger stage. They’re tapping into something remarkable here, and they’re not showing any signs of slowing down.

3. The power play!

Perhaps one of the more interesting quirks about this game is how little we have to say about the Flyers’ special teams. Not because they looked stale and uninteresting, but because we didn’t get to see a whole lot of them. With all of the chippiness that we saw in that game, it was more often than not no-calls or offsetting minors. So what we got were two Flyers power plays, and that’s just about it.

They didn’t get a whole lot going on their first attempt, when Jack Johnson was sent off for tripping early in the first (which says a lot about how things were going for the Flyers, honestly, as this knocked the Penguins down to three defensemen), struggling to connect on all of their passes cleanly and generate much in the way of danger. It would take a two-man advantage before they could get another one back, late in the third with the goalie pulled on the Matt Cullen penalty, and it was pretty sweet. Just James van Riemsdyk, doing his thing.

And, because we want to stretch this a little bit, the Flyers did a little bit more on the 6-on-5 man advantage inside the last minute of play in regulation.

They finally got that nice puck movement they had been looking for, and, in the most perfect moment of cosmic retribution, Jake Voracek shot it straight through the legs of Johnson (who, remember, went knee to knee with Nolan Patrick in the first period) and slipped it through Matt Murray. We can’t really beat around the bush, it was a masterpiece.

4. Brian Elliott, hello

After all of the drama leading up to Elliott ultimately getting the start last night, we came into this one wondering how he would look. He had looked fine, his last two games coming in in relief, but he was still relatively freshly back from injury, and this was a concern. But, all of that said, he did alright

As we noted earlier, the Penguins got the better of the shot share, registering 43 in total, so Elliott certainly had his work cut out for him. All told, he stopped 40 of those shots for a .930 save percentage, and really we can only begrudge him the third goal (as there were some weird bounces leading up to the first two, making things a little more difficult). He didn’t try to make any excuses for that one, after the game, citing the rain or wet equipment, he just said he didn’t catch it. All things considered, he did a fine enough job, keeping the Flyers in the game when the Penguins were dominating until they could put together a surge of their own, and get themselves to overtime.

5. Garbage time

Something we’ve been sort of keying in on throughout these observations is that there was a lot that was pretty rough about this game. The ice wasn’t great. The players couldn’t see too well through their visors. And there were a lot of turnovers happening, particularly on the Flyers’ part, that made for a pretty difficult start to the game. There was a reason the Flyers were out-shot 18 to eight in the first period alone, and it was in part good work for the Penguins in keeping up aggressive play, but just as much it was the Flyers not being able to hold onto the puck or break out to save their lives. But we should also credit them for their ability to stick with it and cash in on their couple of opportunities late, when they really needed to. They didn’t get the better of play through the whole of the game, but they made the necessary push, and made their chances count.

And, all that said, that made this kind of fun, right? They were down 3-1 late in the third and it didn’t seem unreasonable, considering how things had been going, that we were ready to pencil in the loss. And that makes the comeback just a little bit more exciting. Maybe it’s that, maybe it’s the setting, but it felt special. It was a big win.

6. Bonus: the only damn thing I know

One of my favorite things, when watching hockey games, because I’m a child or something, is when the mics accidentally catch the players cussing at each other on the ice. I don’t know why, but it’s always a little bit funny. I wasn’t expecting any of that last night, but somehow the universe delivered a bit of it, with force.

Up in the press box, we had bunch of televisions mounted above the rows of seats, on the delay, playing the NBC play-by-play. So we saw the gathering in the third that would ultimately send Evgeni Malkin and Robert Hagg off in real time. And then we saw it on TV when the broadcast caught up. And then, inexplicably, we had one of the officials caught telling someone “alright, get the fuck outta here” coming over the speakers, which, according to our friends at home, didn’t get picked up on their broadcast. I don’t know how it happened, but it was incredible.

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