The Flyers went into the Nassau Coliseum yesterday afternoon and brought it to the division leading New York Islanders. They’re now just five points out of a playoff spot with a huge stretch of games beginning, let’s talk about the impressive victory.
1. Holy shot quality, batman
Getting blown out in overall shot attempts fazed the Flyers not, as a barrage of high quality chances lead them to the win. New York mustered 57 shot attempts to Philadelphia’s 41, but the scoring chances-for and high danger chances were fairly tight comparatively. The Isles managed 36 SCF relative to the Flyers 26, and 20 high-danger chances for to the Flyers 14. There’s a clear negative in this, in that the Flyers allowed far too many quality shot attempts and made Brian Elliott’s afternoon quite eventful, but there’s a distinct positive as well.
Although overall the Flyers had the fewer shot attempts, a greater percentage of those attempts came via scoring chances or high danger chances. Sure, seeing them have high quality and high quantity is preferred. But, if they’re not going to have the high shot attempt numbers, making sure the ones they do get are in high percentage areas is vital. That’s exactly what they did in this game.
Of course, the biggest key to this is burying the chances you do get, and the Flyers did just that. Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss have been phenomenal for the Islanders this season, but yesterday the Flyers got to Lehner early and often forcing Barry Trotz to yank him mid game. This was the kind of luck they needed to have vs. some extremely hot goaltending, and they got it.
2. Brian Elliott was fantastic
It was quite a shock that Brian Elliott remained on this team past the trade deadline last week. It’s almost a given the 33 year old netminder won’t be brought back after his contract expires at the end of this season, but he’s showing the rest of the league he’s still got some gas left in the tank. Elliott was superb in this game stopping 29 of 30 Islanders shots en route to the win. He looked like the Elliott of a few years ago in St. Louis, and it was a treat to see him stand on his head in a big game for the Flyers.
There may not be too many games left for Moose as a Flyer, but this was by far one of his best showings, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Despite another injury plagued season, he’s battled and shown up for this team when they needed him most, and he’s leaving a strong impression on Flyers fans in most likely his final season here.
3. Nolan’s rough luck continues
This guy simply cannot catch a break. Early in the game, Nolan Patrick had a shot from Cal Clutterbuck go right off the back of his head, and he would not return to the game. After dealing with noted bad hockey player and apparent goon Kurtis Gabriel in the Devils game, Patrick now has this happen. It appears as though he’ll escape relatively unscathed, as he suffered a laceration and not a concussion.
The few days off until Wednesday vs. Washington will be much needed for Patrick as he rests up after a grueling game vs. New Jersey, and the injury suffered yesterday. If the Flyers want to make a run at the Stanley Cup Playoffs, keeping Patrick in the lineup will be vital. He’s been one of the hottest skaters of late with 15 points in his last 20 games, including seven goals. This has been another up and down season for the former second overall pick, but if he can continue to remain hot down the stretch, it should bode well for next season and possibly a playoff run.
4. The Travii
When Wayne Simmonds was traded, many wondered who would step up in his place as the main aggressor of sorts in the Flyers lineup. Well, it sure seems like Travis Konecny wants that role. TK got the Flyers off to a hot start with a dazzling goal through the Islanders defense, giving them a 1-0 lead. Although his metrics overall in this game were leaving a bit to be desired, he was an assist short of the Gordie Howe Hat Trick, as he got into a fight with Islanders forward Jordan Eberle. This was the result of a hit from Eberle up high on Konecny, and it was fun seeing him step up for himself like that and taking matters into his own hands.
As for the other Travis, Mr. Sanheim chipped in a goal with albeit poor underlying numbers. He had the second most minutes of Flyers defensemen in this game, and netted his ninth goal of the season, giving him 29 points on the year. After a 10 point campaign last year, Sanheim has blossomed into arguably the Flyers best blueliner this season. He’s handled the challenge of joining the top pair with Ivan Provorov extremely well, and excelled in the role. Assuming Provorov and Gostisbehere can get back to their old selves offensively next season, Sanheim makes for a lethal 1-3 defensive punch for many years to come.
5. Top six dominated
We knew coming into this game that both teams were pretty top heavy, but one more so than the other. The Flyers top six was fantastic in this game, with Claude Giroux leading the way in Corsi followed by Sean Couturier, James van Riemsdyk, and Oskar Lindblom. Giroux had two assists including his 50th of the season, giving him nine points in his last five games and his fifth 50 assist season of his career. After a brief cold streak, the captain has been on fire for the Flyers on his way to yet another point per game season.
Couturier and Lindblom also picked up assists in this game, leaving JVR the only member of the defacto top six without a point in this game. These are the kinds of games where it isn’t good enough to simply drive play and post solid metrics, but to score as well, and that’s exactly what the Flyers top six did yesterday.
All data courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, hockey-reference, and NHL.com