EIGHT WINS IN A ROW, BABY!
The Flyers had a tough task ahead of them last night, coming home after playing a really tough game against the Capitals the night before to face off against a somewhat depleted but still very rested Hurricanes team. And you know what they did? They took it to them for most of this game. And just like that, the Flyers are just inches away from taking hold of the first place spot in the division. But more on that later.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick and NHL.com.
6 — total shots at about the midway point of the first period
If you were watching the beginning of this game and your feeling was just one big yawn, well, you wouldn’t be the only one. It was something of a low event start to this game, and as we approached the midway point of the period, the Flyers had only just managed to get to four shots, while the Hurricanes had two, so there really just wasn’t a whole lot going on there. Neither side, to be fair, was really running away with the momentum, or even playing that well, period. We had some turnovers, a good number of miscues, and all of this amounted to a pretty meh start. And this isn’t really new for the Flyers, we know that by now, but at least the good news is that they weren’t the only ones working through some issues for the first ten minutes or so of the game.
43.99—the Flyers’ adjusted CF% at 5-on-5
And now we’re coming in with probably the most predictable stat of all. Listen. We know how the Hurricanes play by now. Even if they’re not at top form, they’re still going to get a ton of shot attempts and the differential is going to look a little lopsided in their favor, probably even regardless of the final score, and we saw that last night.
But, that said, the numbers beyond this one don’t look too bad for the Flyers. The Flyers were effective in limiting the number of chances that the Hurricanes actually got on net, as they came out of this one with 29 shots despite generating 61 shot attempts. And what’s more, the Flyers came out with the edge in shot quality, overall, as they had an adjusted 55.37 xGF% at 5-on-5. Their defensive game was strong, and they made the most of the chances they were able to generate in this one. So, while they weren’t able to completely prevent the Hurricanes from generating any offense at all, they were able to pretty well control the quality, and that served them well.
3 — goals contributed by the bottom six
It would be pretty hard to point a finger at a single Flyers who had a particularly poor game last night, as even after the slow start, the team as a whole really got going, and just about everyone seemed to be contributing in one way or another. That said, the bottom six really had themselves a night, contributing the bulk of the scoring on the evening. We got goals by Michael Raffl and Nicolas Aube-Kubel to account for the fourth line, and then Scott Laughton and Derek Grant set up Ivan Provorov’s goal, so we had the third liners chipping in there as well.
And while, as we said, it’s not that the first two lines were playing poorly, it’s just that last night the Flyers’ depth players were able to make the most of their matchups and be the big contributors on the scoresheet, while the first two lines did a bit more shutdown work. And the fact that the Flyers have the luxury of having his option makes them even more dangerous.
28 — saves for Carter Hart
And, of course, we shouldn’t forget that Hart also had himself a strong showing in this one as well. Perhaps part of the good news is that he didn’t have a particularly difficult workload in this game—though he faced 29 shots, only seven of them were high danger shots—which perhaps made his job a little easier, and really we have to thank the skaters for the defensive work they did in preventing more of those Hurricanes shot attempts from making their way to Hart.
But, that said, Hart still had some work to do to keep the Flyers in their comfortable lead, and he did well in that. Even the one goal he let in, it’s hard to blame him for it, it was really just a pretty spectacular passing play to set up a dangerous chance and make it happen. It may not have been his biggest game of the season, but we still appreciate the solid work he did, all the same.
Like 3 — goals that Joel Farabee could have had
This is our more imprecise stat of the night, but there’s a point to be made here about how strong of a game Farabee had, without being rewarded on the scoresheet. With the injury to James van Riemsdyk, Farabee was called back up from the Phantoms and dropped back in a top-6 role, and he really seemed to hit the ground running. He totaled four individual high danger chances on the evening, which was the most on the team and double what the next closest skater put up (Ivan Provorov, two iHDCF). In a way, it feels remarkable that he didn’t get one single bounce to go his way—indeed, I asked Charlie after his fourth high danger chances didn’t go if he thought perhaps Farabee had been cursed by a witch, and that’s why this was happening—but sometimes that’s just how it goes. All the same, he had a really good game, and if he keeps generating chances like he was last night, things are going to break open for him sooner rather than later.
87 — points in the standings
In case you missed it, the Flyers were first in the Metro for just under 20 minutes, before the Capitals picked up a loser point in their game against the Rangers and stole back the first position by nature of the tie breaker. But it still remains that the Flyers are on a pretty incredible tear right now and just like that, they’re tied for first in the division purely by standings points. And ordinarily it might feel like we’re obsessing a little too much over positioning in the standings, but this is just pretty amazing stuff, gang. Even Alain Vigneault said it after the game, that it’s understandable for everyone, team and fans alike, to be excited about how the team is trending and how they’re climbing the standings. It’s pretty remarkable, and if you’re not excited, well, I don’t know what to tell you.