Well, it was a nice run. We thought the winning streak might continue, but in truly Flyers fashion, it would be lost to an objectively not good team. The points streak lives on, but that’s just not the same. Are we back to hoping they tank for a better draft pick already? Regression is happening. How do we feel?
All stats via Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com
1. A legitimately sloppy start
We’ve had a handful of games so far this season, as recently as Monday, where we’ve had to say “well, there wasn’t a whole lot going on early in this one, but that’s because nobody was playing very well and they just had to feel each other out before they got going.” But this wasn’t the case last night. The Flyers came out a little flat, and started off on another one of those games where they couldn’t connect on more than three successive passes. The turnovers were everywhere. It was sloppy. It’s a miracle they made it out of the first period, after having given up 18 shots and 28 shot attempts, all at 5-on-5, only down the one goal.
And the thing is, these weren’t really new mistakes that we were seeing. They were amplified a bit, sure, but these are the same sort of messy stretches that we saw during the winning streak, the only difference is that everything was going right for them and they found a way to get away with all of them. But that just ended last night.
2. The third line does a bit of buzzing
If we’re hunting for positives, because we’re going to get a bit more doom and gloom in a second, a nice piece we can pull from the first period is that the third line showed us a bit of flash. But, unfortunately, that was kind of it. Just a bit of flash. They had a nice little surge early that saw them generate a couple of chances in close, but Wayne Simmonds didn’t connect on one, and a puck jumped a little and Scott Laughton couldn’t get his shot off quickly enough to take advantage of a wide open net. it’s disappointing, because you want them to score on all of their chances, and all that, but it was a sign of life where things were looking pretty bleak. So it’s something.
3. So you got scored on by the Kings’ fourth line…
Which feels like a happening that should immediately force relegation of the team in question. It’s just… yeah, it’s bad.
Okay, maybe that’s a little bit mean, but also maybe a little deserved? The Flyers did get scored on by the Kings’ fourth line, with a trio of forwards on the ice that have combined for just 23 points on the season. It’s not great.
It’s just as we were talking about in our first point, when sloppy play and breakdowns lead to chances and they’re just not ready to defend against them. Neither defenseman here was prepared to break this up, and the Kings took that extra step and ran with it. And, unfortunately, this would be something of a tone-setter for the rest of the game. The Flyers were a step behind for a lot of this, and they were caught reaching, as Voracek said after the game, with their sticks, trying to make play come to them, rather than taking the extra step and making things happen.
4. Stolarz the Goalarz
We had a new face in goal last night, friends. Carter Hart’s been playing some very good hockey, of late, so it makes sense that he would be getting a good chunk of the starts, but you’ve got to break it up, and that means yesterday was Anthony Stolarz time.
All things considered, Stolarz played very well last night. He allowed one particularly dangerous looking rebound early in the first period which had us a little nervous, but he regrouped quickly after that and really bore down. The Flyers were bleeding a lot of shots, 39 in total, and all without the Kings having a chance on the power play, and Stolarz had his work cut out for him. He stopped 37 of those shots, and was beaten by two good shots when the defense completely broke down in front of him. He stood on his head for most of the night, and it really wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that he was the reason that they were even in position to drag themselves past regulation and get that loser point.
5. Somehow, as expected
As we were creeping through the first half of the game and the Flyers still hadn’t found a way to break through and get themselves on the board, and didn’t look all that sharp in doing whatever it was they were doing out there, we couldn’t shake the feeling that if they were finally able to get one past Jonathan Quick, it was going to be some kind of weird garbage time goal. That was just the vibe, and, in a way, we were correct in that assessment.
Giroux finds Couturier for the goal! pic.twitter.com/Npu6KEYX5Y— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 8, 2019
It took 27 whole minutes, but the Flyers were finally able to get themselves set in the offensive zone long enough to actually make something happen. It took that weird (but admittedly skillful) pass from Claude Giroux as he was falling down (something the Flyers did a lot of last night, we should add) to Sean Couturier in front, who just slipped it past Quick five-hole. It was, perhaps, not exactly the way they would have drawn that one up, but it saw two very good players making the most of what they had to work with, exploiting the little bit of space they had to get their team back in the game.
6. A nod to Oskar Lindblom
While we’re acknowledging strong individual performances, we should also, as this section title says, extend a nod to Oskar Lindblom. He was held off the board last night, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t doing some solid work, all things considered. He recorded a second among all skaters three shots on goal at 5-on-5 (first among forwards), and an adjusted 47.16 CF% (good for a 12.77 RelCF). When they were struggling to generate offense at 5-on-5, he was there to push play and generate a bit of buzz. In a way, it’s a shame that he wasn’t rewarded on the score sheet for this work, but it was sound, and this isn’t exactly a new occurrence. Lindblom has been sustaining this level of play, recently, and it seems only a matter of time before things really break open for him.
7. The power play
Well would you look at that, the power play is bad again. We almost got to the point of typing in this outline “wow, it’s pretty weird that we haven’t had any special teams time yet,” when, lo and behold, with just under a minute and a half left in the second period, Kyle Clifford was whistled for tripping, and the Flyers would get their chance to tie things back up. And… that didn’t happen. The Flyers struggled mightily to so much as get set up in the zone, and failed to register so much as a shot on goal. Well, that’s not entirely true. Couturier put a puck in the back of the net, it just happened to be about a second after the buzzer sound. Their second attempt saw them get a bit of puck movement going on, but they still only registered one proper chance, and again they came up empty.
8. Jake Voracek, hello
But not so fast, the Flyers didn’t come up entirely empty on the man-advantage. It took them almost the whole third period, but on the 6-on-5 with Stolarz pulled inside the last minute of regulation, they were able to make something happen.
We're going to overtime thanks to Jake Voracek! pic.twitter.com/cf7n9B3ooS— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 8, 2019
It was another nice pass from Giroux to Voracek in front, and the Flyers had forced overtime. And, in a way, it felt like a deserved tally for Voracek, who had been doing some good work in this one. He came out of the night with five shot attempts, and an adjusted 3.45 RelCF%, acting as one of the more noticeable forces in that late push back. It wasn’t quite the same as the dominant flashes that we saw on Monday against the Canucks, but the work was still there, and it was enough to help get the job done (if that job is dragging this team to overtime to collect at least one point in the standings).
So we should really take a minute to step back and talk about how the Flyers got this standings point in the first place. They got to overtime with that timely Voracek goal, but the work throughout the final period was solid, all in all. They made the necessary push, actually out-chancing the Kings 13 to nine, putting themselves in the best position to make that comeback. And that’s not something we would have seen from them a few months ago.
So we leave this one with some mixed feelings: they may have lost this one in the first period, and maybe they didn’t deserve a point, much less two. But we can appreciate the push back, at least. But we just needed a little more.
10. The only damn thing I know
The Kings are so old, fam. It’s just… it’s really astounding. That’s all I have to say here.