The Philadelphia Flyers took care of business on Sunday afternoon with a 4-1 win against the Bruins in their first round-robin game. It was a slow start, but things picked up in the second period with three goals – one by Philippe Myers.
In his postseason debut, Myers looked like he had been there many times before. He was all over the ice. Nerves? What nerves?
Myers was a workhorse against the Bruins. He played a team-high 16:03 at 5-on-5 play and was on the ice for three of the Flyers’ four goals – scoring one and having a big part in another.
Myers and Travis Sanheim have formed a formidable pair for the Flyers, and they showed that on Sunday. They had the best Corsi-For Percentage (Sanheim 53.13%; Myers 52.50%) and Expected Goals-For Percentage (Sanheim 62.92%; Myers 59.63%) among Flyers defensemen.
Of Myers’ 16 5v5 minutes, nearly five of them (4:54) were against Pastrnak. In those nearly five minutes with both Myers and Pastrnak on the ice, the Flyers dominated to the tune of 7-3 shot attempts, 5-1 shots on goal, and 2-0 goals. Myers and the Flyers held the Rocket Richard winner to zero shots on goal during 5-on-5 play.
Myers was making his NHL postseason debut, and he sure made an impact.
Enough of the stats; let’s go to the videotape!
There wasn’t too much for Myers to do on his first shift. He settled in by controlling the puck in the zone and chipping it along the boards to Kevin Hayes, which led to some offensive zone time thanks to Travis Konecny.
Later in the shift, Myers worked with Hayes behind the net to win a battle and clear the zone.
Myers got the puck up ice once more and headed off with his first NHL postseason shift in the books.
Things would pick up as the game moved along for Myers and the Flyers.
Myers’ second shift came in the defensive zone as the Bruins were starting to put some pressure on. Boston got another point shot for a faceoff, but then Sanheim tied up his man along the boards and the Flyers got the puck up ice.
As he’s known to do, Myers saw an opportunity to join the rush and fired off a shot attempt that went wide, resulting in a rush the other way.
Even though he missed the net, it was good to see Myers playing his game early on.
Myers then sped back down the ice to even up a potential 3-on-2 rush. As Myers got back, Sanheim was in good position to keep David Krejci to the outside with a stick check.
To end his shift, Myers disrupted a play in the near corner and forced a loose puck that the Flyers picked up and cleared.
Myers immediately made his presence felt on his next shift. It wasn’t a play that will be noticeable in the box score or stand out at all, but it was an important play during the flow of a hockey game.
The Bruins were starting to control play more and it looked like they had another rush coming up the ice. Instead, Myers stepped up in the neutral zone to force an errant pass up ice that the Flyers recovered.
That kept the Bruins out of the offensive zone, and a defensive play by Sanheim got the puck going the other way at the end of the shift.
Myers had a point shot blocked, but he recovered to bat the puck out of the air in the neutral zone.
That disrupted the rush’s timing just enough and the Flyers were able to get back to even things up.
After an icing and the Flyers getting the puck up ice, Myers trailed the rush and got a shot off.
He was starting to feel it and was aggressive all game long.
Myers got 17 seconds with Justin Braun at the end of the penalty kill, then took away a passing lane and sprung Claude Giroux on a 2-on-1 rush that ended with no shot attempt.
He got turned around off the rush on his next shift, causing Carter Hart to bail him – and the lack of a backchecking forward – out a bit.
Myers flipped the puck to center ice, but didn’t change just yet. On the Bruins’ next rush, he stayed with David Pastrnak as the winger tried to toe drag around him, which was a solid little play for the defenseman.
Then, Nate Thompson tried to make a cross-ice pass in the defensive zone that Patrice Bergeron got a stick on, but luckily Myers was there to clear before Bergeron or Pastrnak found it.
That was pretty much it for the first period. It was a lackluster period for the Flyers as a whole, but there were some building blocks for the Orange and Black – especially Myers.
Myers played 5:04 in the first period, which was just an appetizer for the main course of the second period.
Early in the second period, Myers joined a rush after helping start it. He got to a loose puck near the net, fed it up the boards to Hayes, and then jumped up ice.
He wasn’t in great position, however, and backhand attempt wasn’t all that dangerous. Myers later made a pass from just inside his own zone to the blue line to help the Flyers gain the offensive zone at the end of his shift.
That was the start of a few strong shifts in a row for the Sanheim-Myers pair. On his next shift, Myers had two shot attempts and kept the puck in at the line to keep the cycle going. His positioning, along with Sanheim and Couturier, also forced an icing at the end of the shift.
Myers (and Sanheim) turned it up a notch during their next shift.
Sanheim pinched, Myers had a one-time chance before shoveling the puck back in deep at the line, and that’s when Sanheim worked his magic.
Sanheim was in the neutral zone when Myers chipped the puck back in, but saw the opportunity to create a chance at the line and he did just that.
They were feeling it, and Vigneault kept rolling with them less than a minute later.
Myers played decoy as a one-time option at the line while Sanheim aggressively joined the cycle down low. The Bruins eventually cleared the zone, but Myers made a smart play to keep the puck moving. That allowed only one Bruins forward to change, giving a fresh top line a matchup against some tired defenders.
Those little plays make a big difference in the long run. The Flyers’ top line only had a short cycle, but it could’ve been dangerous.
After an icing, the Bruins had a good chance, but Myers found the puck in front of the blue paint and cleared the zone.
Myers rimmed the puck around after his icing and finally got off the ice after an 80-second shift.
Charlie McAvoy tried to do his best Phil Myers late in the period, but he lost control of the puck after entering the zone and Myers promptly cleared it away.
Myers then used his reach to beat Brad Marchand to the puck and chip it out of the zone. The Bruins tried to change as they knocked it back in, and Myers quickly made a cross-ice pass up to Giroux.
Unfortunately, Giroux lost control of the puck. Otherwise, it could have been a great scoring chance for the top line.
After the Bruins scored off a lucky bounce, Vigneault turned to Sanheim and Myers with just over a minute left in the second period. But it didn’t take that long for the Flyers to answer.
The Bruins won the faceoff, but Myers found the loose puck and turned up ice. He entered the zone on a 2-on-1 rush and fired a rocket past Halak just eight seconds after the Bruins scored.
Myers had been aggressive all game long – which helped lead to Raffl’s goal – and it paid off with a goal in his postseason debut. At that point Myers was on the radar of everybody watching the game.
After playing 5:04 in the first period, Myers totaled 6:54 in the second period all at even strength. He and Sanheim were on top of their game.
Myers came out firing in the third period. Konecny and Hayes got caught up in the slot with the puck sliding back to Myers at the point.
Just the threat of Myers being able to join the rush and create offense impacts other aspects of the game. Off of a casual dump in, Myers used his speed to force the Bruins’ hand.
Rather than being able to control the puck and get something going, Boston was forced to chip the puck up ice where the Flyers could reset.
Again Myers pinched up to keep the play alive, resulting in an offensive zone faceoff rather than a potential clear.
Myers also showed that he won’t take anything and he’ll defend his goalie.
Myers is an extremely skilled skater and is good with his stick as well. On a shot from the point he made sure to stick check in front of the net to take away the chance of a deflection.
The third period was less eventful for Myers, but that was only because the second period had so many highlights. Myers played 5:53 in the third, all at even strength.
It was a successful postseason debut for Myers. He finished the game with a goal, a team-high nine shot attempts and five shots on goal, two hits, and one blocked shot.
After some struggles against the Penguins in the exhibition game, it was fantastic to see both Myers and Sanheim play well. If they can keep this up, the Flyers have two very good pairs on the blue line.
Moving forward, it looks like this pair will be sticking together after all. If there were some bumps in the road I thought they could explore Sanheim-Braun and Gostisbehere-Myers as pairs, but this pair may simply be too good to break up.
It was a good start, now the Flyers need to keep it up on Thursday against the Washington Capitals.