It finally happened, gang. The Flyers were eliminated on Saturday, and then came right back home yesterday for their first post-elimination game. And, if we’re being really honest with ourselves, what we got was probably what we could have expected. Combine all of the feelings that are likely coming from being eliminated, and then combine those with the fact that this game was the second half of a back-to-back? A shutout by the Rangers is pretty rough, but we understand how we got here. But let’s still talk about it.
How’d they look out there
5v5: 22 shots, 46.33 adjusted CF%, 36.99 xGF%
This wasn’t a particularly bad game for the Flyers at 5-on-5, relative to the actually, actively very bad games we’ve seen, but it wasn’t a particularly good game, either. They Flyers weren’t turning the puck over constantly, or getting tied up in the neutral zone, they just couldn’t seem to… do anything. They were able to get the puck into the offensive zone to start a bit of cycling, but they weren’t really putting a lot of pressure on Alexandar Georgiev—they were only able to register four high danger chances at 5-on-5, across all three periods. So they were doing some work, sure, but it wasn’t the smartest of work. There wasn’t much traffic in front, Georgiev wasn’t having any trouble seeing these shots. It’s not a mystery why they couldn’t seem to get anything past him. He was playing well, granted, but they weren’t putting themselves in the best position to test him.
Power play: 7 shots, 16 CF, 2 HDCF
The Flyers had a ton of chances on the power play yesterday, as Brendan Smith was called for four separate minors over the course of the game (which is objectively hilarious), earning the Flyers eight minutes on the power play to work with. And the good news is that, on the whole, they looked pretty solid. They had one stretch where they were chased out of the offensive zone, but that was the only major hiccup. Their entries were cleaner, and they were able to get a good amount of puck movement going. But they also weren’t able to really collapse the Rangers low enough in the zone to get much going in the way of high danger chances. And, after all of that, nothing went in the net. So we can talk about strong cycling and good looks, but at some point, with all of those chances, you have to find a way to convert on something.
Penalty kill: 2 SA, 4 CA, 0 SF
It didn’t wind up being one of those games where the penalties ended up completely evening out, and the Flyers were only called for a penalties twice (and the second came with a minute and a half left in regulation. So the Flyers only had to kill 1.75 penalties). And there isn’t a whole lot to report on these penalty kill showings. Oskar Lindblom blocked a shot by Kevin Shattenkirk that seemed to sting him a bit, but that’s really the most dramatic thing that happened. The Flyers were solid in their three and a half penalty kill minutes, disrupting lanes and chasing the Rangers out of the zone. So there were no power play goals to be had for the Rangers, either.
Three standouts of the game
1. Ivan Provorov
We talked last week about Travis Sanheim and how dangerous he looked while activating on the rush, and it seems that Ivan Provorov wanted to get in on that action. He isn’t always a player who you look at and say “wow, he is an offensive force 100 percent of the time,” but he does have the ability to be, and he flexed a bit of that yesterday. Provorov led the team with six shots on goal across all situations, getting himself a couple of nice looking chances, including one on the power play. The Flyers were struggling to generate much offense, and Provorov seemed to be trying to take the lead on that. And maybe that was or wasn’t the best thing (we’ll touch more on this later), but they needed contributions from somewhere, and he was trying to bring them.
2. Oskar Lindblom
It was a tough game to look at and point to a player and say “yes, this guy is bringing a ton of flash and very obviously one of the standouts of the game,” it just wasn’t one of those games. So we’re going detail hunting. Lindblom did bring a bit of flash—that blocked shot was the wrong kind, but he also had what was almost a very nice chance off the rush that just missed. Lindblom’s defensive work along the boards also stood out positively, as he was one who was able to keep to his details and do what he was asked to do, and not try to do too much.
3. Carter Hart
We’re hitting this Carter Hart section looking to work through some mixed feelings. It wasn’t a bad game for Hart, per se. He still made some very good saves (and 22 in total on 25 shots), and we can’t really blame him for Brady Skjei’s goal going in, after it deflected off of not one but two Flyers in front. He did overplay the initial chance on the play that led to Pavel Buchnevich’s goal, but that was really the only glaring misstep in this one. He was fine, but he wasn’t great.
Three goals allowed might not always be the end of the world in a game, and maybe what he was able to bring might have been at least closer to enough in a game when the team in front had a bit more jump. It’s hard to say. But, all the same, maybe this was one of the rare game where he wasn’t really on, not entirely. And that’s what makes this feel so jarring.
Two loose observations
1. Play the hits!
The Flyers used yesterday to return to some old combinations, maybe to get some different looks, maybe just to try to spark something. Whichever it was, we went back to some old favorites. They started out the game rolling the top line of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Travis Konecny. And then that was fine, but it didn’t immediately result in a ton of offense generated, so Konecny was bumped down and Jake Voracek was pulled up. And then that had just about the same result. Scott Gordon also tried out what was a pretty dominant pair in the AHL, with Travis Sanheim next to Phil Myers, and they were just okay too. Not awful, not great. This feels like a pretty lukewarm section, and all of this is just to say that these last games of the season are a time to try some things (be they new or just attempts to capture old brilliance), but we should also make an effort not to judge them too severely if all of the games, from top to bottom, are also pretty lukewarm. Context, baby.
2. A fizzle
As we made mention of in the intro, this is more or less the game that we might have expected from the Flyers. They played at an insanely high level for a good stretch, and it all started to come apart some, and then they were mathematically eliminated on Saturday. They fell short. So what followed was a game where the team lacked some emotion, didn’t really keep to their collective details, and individual players were out there trying to do too much themselves. And maybe that’s fatigue, that’s regression, that’s guys out here just trying to start their audition for next season, whatever narrative you want to throw on them. We understand where all of this comes from, but we can’t help but hope they can pull it together and show a little spark in these last three games. End things on a higher note.
The only damn thing I know
Some of us talked about this in our BSH slack chat, but we came to the realization that the first time a couple of us heard Brady Skjei’s name, we thought it was just the announcer mispronouncing Brayden Schenn somehow. I definitely was thrown by this, as well, so I’m glad I wasn’t the only one. That’s all.