Well, that’s it now isn’t it? The Flyers lost 2-0 to the Bruins last night and the winning streak is dead. And that’s a real shame, it’s a tough one to swallow. But at the same time, there are still positives to take away—they’re still just one point back of first in the division, and they really still didn’t play a particularly poor game last night. We don’t have to come away from that one feeling particularly grouchy about their performance, which feels a little strange to say after a loss, but it remains the case. Let’s dig into a couple of our big takeaways, shall we?
All stats via Natural Stat Trick.
A note on possession
Looking at the final numbers for this one, we might come away from it feeling not terribly good about the Flyers’ performance. They did, after all, finish out this game with an adjusted 45.62 CF% and 43.33 xGF%, and that paints a pretty ugly picture for us. But what those numbers don’t do is take into account the larger arc of the game, because it isn’t as though the Flyers were torched by those possession metrics throughout the whole of the game. Indeed, through the first two periods, they put up a 55.02 and 52.64 CF%s, respectively, and then dropped to 31.58 percent in the third period, which drug down the average significantly.
And maybe that’s the bit worth keying in on here—the Flyers were flat out dominant through the first 40 minutes of play, and really seemed to be knocking on the door a number of times, but couldn’t get a bounce to go their way. And while the game did get away from them a bit on the scoresheet, we shouldn’t completely erase the fact that they did put up that early effort against one of the best teams in the league. There was still some good work done last night.
Carter Hart continues to deliver
He didn’t have to face too much action early on, but this did turn into both an important and still solid game for Hart. He only saw 14 shots through the first two periods, including just two high danger chances, but the activity really ramped up in the third, as the Bruins put up 15 shots and seven high danger chances. The Flyers were looking to rally back at that point, and in some ways it feels like a miracle that it didn’t get out of hand, with the number of quality chances the Bruins got, and the fact that it didn’t was largely due to Hart’s play.
We’re not really too fussed about either of the goals he let in—the Bruins’ power play goal we could see coming a mile away, with how the skaters weren’t able to clear the puck or stop the Bruins’ cycle, and the second looked like it maybe changed direction a bit (but even if it didn’t, well, it was Patrice Bergeron). The point remains that, overall, he played a good game, and did just about everything he could to keep his team in this one.
And maybe it feels a little off to single out the goalie of a losing team for praise after a loss, but we’re looking sort of big picture on this one. We knew that Hart’s workload would be upped some during this stretch to get him ready for the playoffs, so we’ve been keeping an extra close eye on how he’s doing, with that considered. And the good news, perhaps, is that he’s taking it with stride and still playing well against really tough opponents. So more work, no sweat, apparently.
Ghost is back!
We got some bad news before last night’s game, that Philippe Myers is set to miss about four weeks with a fractured patella. And that’s not great and we’re already eager to see him back, but the silver lining, perhaps, is that it means that we can finally see Shayne Gostisbehere back in the lineup. And there may have been some concerns heading into this one about how he would look in his first game back in a hot second, and boy did he ever put those to bed.
The numbers are a bit of a mixed bag—the 39.10 CF% is decidedly not great, but he did lead all defensemen in xGF%, coming in witha 52.98 percent at 5-on-5 (which was also good for fourth among all skaters). So, when he was on the ice the Flyers may not have had the edge in shot quantity, but they did at least have the edge in quality, which is something.
But perhaps the more important takeaway is a more general one, in the fact that Gostisbehere just looked to be, well, himself. He was activating offensively when he could, playing aggressively, and also getting the chance to go back to doing some distributing on the power play (on PP2, to be fair, but he still looked sharp there). And all of this was, in short, exactly what we needed to see from him, and now that we know he’s going to be in the lineup regularly for the foreseeable future, here’s hoping that he’s able to keep that up.
On playing a full 60
To circle back to one of our points from our possession section, one piece you may have taken away from this one is the feeling that the Flyers were really dominant through the first two periods of play, even if they couldn’t beat Rask, and then just couldn’t seem to do a whole lot of anything in the third period. And maybe we might otherwise want to call that an incomplete effort, that somehow they got frustrated and lost their sharpness and focus, or whatever else have you. But that just doesn’t really feel like the appropriate description.
Because maybe it really is just as simple as “there a just big swings in momentum during games” and that power play goal was enough to push the momentum back in the Bruins’ favor. The Flyers’ execution was lacking in the third period, but they didn’t have quite as much space to work with through those last 20 minutes. So, it is worth noting that their impact level may not have been consistent across the whole of the game, but it wasn’t because they just gave up. Momentum swung away from them, and try as they might, they couldn’t swing it back.
That’s hockey, gang
We’ve said it already, but it is a real shame that the winning streak came to an end like this. But the Flyers were dealt a pretty tough card in this one—they came in against probably the best team in the league and ran into a hot goalie and couldn’t get one of their good chances that they generated past him. It wasn’t for lack of effort, and there were a number of times where it looked like the Flyers were just so close to breaking through, and Tuukka Rask was the difference maker. And sometimes that just happens. Sometimes you just lose to good teams. The Flyers have another one on deck on Thursday in Tampa, so the next step is to just see how they’re able to rebound for that one.
The only damn thing I know
I honestly don’t really have a breakdown for this one, but Heather put this together last night and I laughed so hard at it. So I’m putting it here for you folks to (hopefully?) enjoy as well.
So the Flyers may have lost tonight, but that new @FarabeeJoel album is about to drop pic.twitter.com/2shxVxsY9B— Heather Barry (@heatherbimages) March 11, 2020