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Flyers 5, Islanders 2: Not all heroes are sandwiches

The Flyers rolled into town and disrespected the New York Islanders in their own home. Again.

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at New York Islanders Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

Good evening folks. We’re watching some hockey tonight.

Despite playing an abysmally awful game in the first ten minutes or so of the first period, the Flyers managed to clean up their act as much as they could and rallied together for a handsome 5-2 win over a division rival. Yeah, that’s right, guys, we wiped the floor with them again. It seems that the New York Islanders are literally the only team in the league that have not gotten their Philly Flu vaccinations. Don’t blame us—blame anti-vaxx propaganda.

This was an important win for the pro-playoffs crowd, and also an important win for the pro-chaos crowd. For what it’s worth, I think I am both, and also neither. I am off in my own little world.

Here is a gif of Jake Voracek clapping sarcastically. It made me feel fuzzy on the inside.

It took a very long time for this game to get going. The first several minutes or so oscillated between absolutely unbearable and just plain boring; neither team had recorded a single shot on goal until the Flyers got one to the net six minutes in (which allegedly didn’t even count).

What was clear to me, however, was that the Flyers looked terrible. I mean, Jesus Christ. There is no other way to say it. I am not one to hold back, and I operate on a very strict “no bullshit” policy. I feel like it’s possible I’ve seen the Flyers look worse—I did watch the home opener (you eight-two see it)—but this is the first time in a while I’ve felt overcome with existential disappointment. They really did look bad. Passes weren’t being completed or were being thrown in the wrong places, either a stride forward or behind or landing in the skates, et cetera. They failed to have strong possession of the puck, leading to woefully preventable odd-man rushes for the Islanders. It was hard to witness.

It was because of this level of play that the forthcoming goal from the Islanders felt predestined. A shot by Scott Mayfield at 6:30 deflected off of Corban Knight’s stick, fooling Brian Elliott fairly easily. I don’t even know who this guy is. I realize I say that a lot, and you may just be deciding I don’t pay attention to hockey if it’s not the Flyers. You would be correct, and what about it?

The first power play of the game would be awarded to the Flyers at 11:12 off a tripping penalty on Ryan Pulock for his illegal takedown of Michael Raffl. You can’t do that, and so to the man-advantage we go. Please imagine fanfare composed entirely of a class of 3rd graders blowing too hard on their plastic recorders.

Like this.

Would it be redundant of me to say that nothing happened on this power play? You likely already assumed that to be the case. If you think you didn’t, think again; reach into the deepest recesses of your heart, and you’ll find the truth.

This power play has been much-maligned in the recent past, and for good reason, as it is completely God awful. The Flyers never seem to spend too long in the offensive zone and rarely manage to combat aggressive penalty kills. This was no exception to that. They didn’t even look close to being close, and at no point did I feel that they looked remotely composed and prepared to make the go-ahead goal. Time to move on.

Just as I said to myself—and broadcasted to the internet—that the Flyers looked absolutely terrible tonight, and I do mean the literal second I said this, Ryan Hartman netted his first goal as a Flyer at 15:20 on the rebound. They’re determined to make me look a fool.

Although I wouldn’t say this goal really changed the level of competency of their play, this certainly sparked some kind of momentum for them and made the fifteen minutes prior feel a little bit less awful. Not for nothing, they looked a hell of a lot more composed after that goal than they did in the first half of the game.

I was about ready to get up and run downstairs to refill by water bottle when, inexplicably, James van Riemsdyk decided to score with three seconds left in the period. At this point, I could only laugh. They started off the period looking nothing short of miserable, and ended the period with two goals and a lead. That’s what hockey is all about, you guys. The little things.

AFTER ONE: 2-1 Flyers, shots 10-6 Flyers; Islanders goal scored by Scott Mayfield (6:30), Flyers goals scored by Ryan Hartman (15:20) and James van Riemsdyk (19:56)

The Flyers are the most infuriating and wonderful team in the National Hockey League. I will be taking no constructive criticism at this time.

In a sequence early in the period that really defies description, Jake Voracek got the puck to Sean Couturier on the rush and holy hell, what a release on that guy. Thomas Greiss had no chance on this one, as it essentially just touched Couturier’s stick and instantly materialized into the back of the net. The Flyers took a two-goal lead at 1:34.

It seemed that the intermission break did a lot to center the Flyers and refresh their game. Even though they still committed many of the same crimes as in the first period, they clearly had gained some confidence back and looked like they were speaking the same language at last. They would spend much of this period trailing and pinned in their own zone, but when they got the offensive opportunities, they jumped on them.

Another example of this would be showcased at 5:35 when Claude Giroux made an excellent effort to center the puck to where Nolan Patrick’s stick was patiently waiting, and he had a pleasantly empty net to shoot into. It’s completely bonkers that the Flyers are winning this after how they played in the opening frame. I love it with my entire heart.

It wouldn’t be a Flyers game against a division rival without the unnecessary dramatics; I was twiddling my thumbs waiting for something like the following to happen, and they delivered. They always deliver, even if it’s not exactly what you ordered.

Ryan Hartman took an ill-advised tripping penalty at 6:02, a pretty obvious call to make. Penalty kill time? No problem, I’m not worried. I’ve never been worried.

The initial penalty kill barely had any time to get started before one of our prestigious referees signaled another penalty against the Flyers. Alright, so, that thing I said before about never being worried? I lied, okay? I told a goddamn lie. I’m on a mood stabilizer that doubles as a sedative. I have deep-seated anxiety. I crack under pressure, and start crying under every circumstance. Not saying I’m going to cry here—these Flyers will not reduce me to tears, not this time—but I am saying that a 5-on-3 power play is exactly the opposite of what I want here. Sean Couturier took this high-sticking penalty at 6:28, though he did not quite agree with it. Here we go.

The minutes that ensued after Couturier’s penalty were some of the most nerve-wracking of my life, or a least my week, possibly my month. As was to be expected, the entire power play was spent almost fully in the Flyers zone, as the Islanders didn’t give them much space to pounce on the puck and send it down the ice. Some things do go our way, however, and it is a true benefit to the Flyers that this was a weak performance from the Islanders on the power play. Our penalty kill isn’t so bad anymore, but it’s not impenetrable.

Elliott came up with some clutch saves here, but the Islanders had trouble finding the net in general. This was just a combined effort (or lack-thereof, in the case of the Islanders) to allow the Flyers to escape the war zone unscathed, by the skin of their teeth.

The momentum had yet to shift away from the Islanders, even with the successful kill. The Flyers spent a lot of time in the minutes following the penalties collapsed in their own zone again by a swarming Islanders team, looking for some retribution after a failed opportunity handed to them on a silver platter. Sometimes things suck, guys, get over it. Embrace it.

Throughout the rest of the period, the Flyers ended up stuck in the defensive zone fairly often, aside from one promising shift where they trapped tired skaters in the Islanders zone and just barely missed some scoring chances. It really did feel like they were about to give up a goal or three, and I wouldn’t have been shocked. I would have welcomed it with a loving embrace, like a sweaty old friend.

However, it did not go that way. In fact it went another way entirely.

An excellent defensive play by Scott Laughton in the Flyers zone sprung the puck to Travis Konecny, quickly developing into a 3-on-1 going to the other end of the ice. Konecny could have passed, but he decided not to, and it was the right choice. What a goddamn shot on that kid. The Flyers added some insulation to their lead at 17:26.

Guys, I don’t know. I really don’t know. I wish I did know. I would love to know.

AFTER TWO: 5-1 Flyers, shots 19-15 Islanders; Flyers goals scored by Sean Couturier (1:34), Nolan Patrick (5:35), and Travis Konecny (17:26)

It appeared that Barry Trotz euthanized Thomas Greiss during the second intermission and inconspicuously brought in a new goaltender to distract the kids. A new challenger appeared by the name of Christopher Gibson.

I’ll jump past the boring nonsense and get right into the meat of the stuff. I know we talk a lot about how referees are “bad” and “stupid” and “stupid again.” I don’t think we give these guys enough credit, folks. They have a hard job. It’s very difficult to have eyes and visual processing skills. That is why even though they gave Jake Voracek a five-minute major penalty for, uh, “interference,” I do not put the blame on their shoulders. I am a warm and forgiving person.

It’s hard to fully describe in words why it’s a silly call to make, but that is why we have moving pictures to do that job for us.

To me, this doesn’t look like a head-hunting hit, and as evidenced by the fact that Johnny Boychuk was holding his shoulder as he was down on the ice, it didn’t appear to catch him there, either. It looked more like Voracek was bracing himself for a hit and caught Boychuk at a hard angle. A penalty? Maybe. A major penalty, absolutely not. But whatever. They don’t pay me to wear those stripes, I guess.

Josh Bailey took a run at Voracek as revenge for the hit, which did nothing really more than award him with a roughing minor. Bailey’s minor and Voracek’s major at 5:41 sent the game to two minutes of 4-on-4, then subsequently three minutes of an Islanders major power play.

Both teams got plenty of chances during the stretch of 4-on-4 play, but nothing could be generated either way before the Islanders power play began. Once again, the Flyers penalty kill came up huge here, as they’ve had to the entire game. They killed this off and looked pretty good doing it.

As was anticipated, the Islanders were still not happy with Jake Voracek for taking Boychuk down, and he would spend the rest of the game paying for it. Scott Mayfield, the lone goal-scorer for the bad guys to that point, took a run at Voracek the first chance he got once the power play was over. This didn’t really do anything for him except send him down the tunnel on a ten-minute game misconduct and send his team to the penalty kill at 10:55. What did you learn, Scotty?

I don’t really need to say that nothing got done on the power play. It really doesn’t need to be said. At this point, I genuinely expect nothing from the Flyers power play, and receive nothing in return. It’s a good relationship we have, very mutual.

Yet another Islanders player got up in Voracek’s business with a minute left on the power play, and really, isn’t it just a little ridiculous by now? Fellas, take it easy. Pop a Tylenol PM. Talk to your doctor to see if Lunesta is right for you.

Jake’s retaliation to Leo Komarov’s vengeance shoving earned the two of them matching roughing minors at 11:56. The Flyers would be able to finish out the one minute remaining on their power play, and then they’d lose a skater and go right to 4-on-4 for another 60 seconds. A lot of this recap was just me doing uncomplicated and also infuriatingly difficult simple math. I’m thinking I should have finished high school.

No one would score on the power play and the following stretch of 4-on-4 hockey, and with about five minutes left in the period, it seemed fairly clear who was going to come out on top. It’s pretty improbable to come back from this kind of deficit this late in the game, but hey, the Flyers are somehow winning this, so anything can happen, I guess. Or not.

The Islanders scored one last dignity goal at 16:28, with Nick Leddy putting one in on the rebound. Good for you guys, huh? Go get yourselves some frozen yogurt after this. With all the toppings that you want, fellas, you deserve it.

AFTER THREE: 5-2 Flyers, shots 27-25 Islanders; Islanders goal scored by Nick Leddy (16:28)