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Capitals 5, Flyers 3: Hey, they didn’t get shut out after all

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Some observations for your morning...

Washington Capitals v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

So, this one was not very fun. The Flyers looked dead in the water for the first two periods and we were asking ourselves if maybe they could just end the game during the second intermission and we could all go to bed and the Flyers wouldn’t have to embarrass themselves anymore. And then they came out and almost made us look stupid for wanting that. Almost.

All stats via Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com

1. Turnover city

We’ve seen some pretty brutal starts to games this season, and while this wasn’t the absolute worst that we’ve seen, it was still pretty rough. The Flyers came out and didn’t have a whole lot of jump, and just weren’t executing particularly well. Their passes weren’t connecting, and when they did manage to complete a pass, the puck was immediately jumping right off their sticks. They were turning the puck over left and right. They couldn’t seem to make it out of the neutral zone. If we were looking for just one word to describe these efforts, it would be “sloppy.” It’s not a mystery how we hit the first intermission with the Flyers being out-shot seven to 15 and out-chanced 31 to 13. They just couldn’t seem to get out of their own way, and the Capitals just kept finding ways to exploit those lapses (but more on that later).

2. That first goal was oof

So we just mentioned the Flyers getting stuck in their own end and giving up chances against, and the first one that resulted in a goal was pretty rough. Let’s go to the tape.

So we should give credit where credit is due: this was a pretty remarkable play by Ovechkin, to create this chance. We can’t take that away from him. But we also would have liked to see the Flyers do a little bit more on this one. In a perfect world, Sanheim would have done more to take away that pass. And Brian Elliott would have read the play better and made a stop. It wasn’t perfect execution, but it was a question of making a read, and they made the wrong one. They expected Ovechkin to shoot, and he didn’t.

But, all that said, maybe just get more of those pucks cleared out, especially when that line is on the ice. Don’t give up that big of a chance. Just a thought.

3. The power play

And it’s time to talk about the power play! With the Flyers struggling to generate much at 5-on-5 through the beginning of the first period, Phil Myers was able to draw a hooking penalty and get them a power play, a chance to get something going. It would be their only look on the power play, and, in short, it wasn’t great.

We got one piece of sort of neat news, in that, with Jake Voracek out, Oskar Lindblom got bumped up to the first unit. Which is fun I guess? We’re reaching, because this was pretty ugly. The Flyers never really ever got themselves set up in the zone long enough to generate much in the way of offense. Really, they struggled at times to just get themselves into the offensive zone, period. They didn’t even register a shot on that attempt, and their early slump couldn’t be broken up.

4. A note on the lines, or lack thereof

We should also take this as an opportunity to note that things were getting a little weird with the lines last night. This was bound to happen, with them only rolling 11 forwards, but this was another level of weirdness. It wasn’t a question of just alternating difference guys to get an extra shift on the fourth line, but rather of switching up the lines every couple of shifts. Maybe there was some pattern or logic there, but we couldn’t seem to find it. And maybe this contributed to the lack of flow for the Flyers in the early part of the game, but then again, maybe there was more working against them than that (we know there was, we talked about it already). All the same, it was weird, it was disjointed, and it almost certainly didn’t make things any easier.

5. A two for one

It’s time for goalie talks! All of the goalie talk! Brian Elliott got the start last night, and it was not a great night for him. There was that first goal, that we saw above, and we don’t love it, but we understand how it happened. This wasn’t the roughest part of the showing, rather, it was the three goals that came after it. They weren’t reel plays like the one Ovechkin made, but rather, just shots from the circle that he didn’t stop. They were decent shots, and the defense could have done more to bail him out, but they were stoppable, all the same. Elliott just didn’t have it, it happens, and Cam Talbot was brought in in relief after the fourth goal.

It wasn’t a great start for Talbot, as he was scored on, on the very first shot he faced, but the good news is that he was able to buckle down after that one, and he wouldn’t be beaten again. All told, he stopped 15 of the 16 shots he faced, and more importantly, he was able to stop the bleeding and get the Flyers back into position to make any kind of comeback. He wasn’t rewarded with a win, the Flyers were just in too deep by then, but we appreciate his efforts.

6. Killing penalties

We can’t really bury the lede on this one. The Flyers had three total looks on the penalty kill, and the first was straight up brutal. The Flyers found themselves collapsed in the defensive zone, unable to get a clear, and somehow left Alex Ovechkin completely alone in his office, with nothing but time to work with. And, yeah, he’s not going to miss with all of that working in his favor.

The good news, though, is that the Flyers were able to get settled after that one, and on their subsequent two penalty kill attempts, were able to keep the Capitals’ attempts largely frustrated. They limited them to four shots in total, and were even able to generate a good shorthanded rush for themselves. So at least there’s that. it certainly doesn’t erase that massive misstep from the first attempt, but they responded well, and that’s a positive development.

7. Philippe Myers, hello

We were getting pretty doom and gloom for a bit there, and it wasn’t unreasonable, because things were pretty brutal. But! There was one good thing that was awaiting us, after enduring all of that bad. Phil Myers, inside the last minute of play in the second period, picked up his first NHL goal!

Overall, it was a fine enough night for him. it’s hard to pick anyone out as being stellar in this one, but Myers was good, all things considered. It might not have been his best overall game, but he has been playing well, of late, and it was nice to see him get rewarded for that solid play. The defense has been good, and now he’s bringing flashes of that offensive instinct, and just pushing (what we hope might be) his potential ceiling higher.

8. And, oh, maybe some more good?

Okay so maybe we spoke too soon. Maybe Myers’s goal wasn’t going to be the only good thing that happened in that game after all. Because the Flyers did something during the second intermission, and they were able to dig deep and bring a bit more offense as the Capitals were caught scrambling around a bit.

First, it was this nice pass through traffic from Oskar Lindblom to Claude Giroux, who was crashing the net and in the perfect spot to slip one past the out of position Braden Holtby. And we might have thought that would be all. That was nice, two goals are better than one, and all that. But they just kept on surging. Because of course they did.

The Flyers were able to cut the Capitals’ lead all the way down to two, when Scott Laughton got a piece of Andrew MacDonald’s shot from the point and tipped it in. He had a bit of a rough night (having gotten wrapped up at one end and not having it called, and then himself being called for a penalty at the end of that shift, earlier in the game) so it felt nice to see Laughton get one. Just a bit of vindication.

In the end, it wasn’t enough for them to claw all the way out of that hole for a miracle comeback, but we can at least appreciate the effort. We know what happened earlier in this game, but at least a 5-3 loss doesn’t sound as bad as a 5-1 loss. Sure.

9. Too little too late

It’s not the first time we’ve had to bring this up, this season, but it bears repeating. As we detailed throughout, the Flyers didn’t really have it through pretty much the whole of the first two periods of this one, and yet somehow they showed up for the third period and were able to bring flashes of dominance. They looked dangerous, and again we were left to wonder where this was through the first 40 minutes. It’s like they flipped a switch during the second intermission and finally were ready to show up for the third. We commend them for not giving up entirely, but honestly, this whole situation kind of baffling. Maybe it’s something that’s bound to happen every once in a while, but this has been a bit more than that. And they’ve got to find a way to break out of that pattern.

10. The only damn thing I know

I was hoping one of our Swedes would do something Really Of Note last night, so I could set up a joke, a bit of continuity, but that didn’t quite pan out. So I’ll just tell you what I had in mind. I went to a concert on Saturday and the band covered “Dancing Queen” and I’ve had it stuck in my head for the past four days. So if anyone has any tips on how to remove it from my brain, that would be cool. Or maybe I just embrace it? Please advise.