Well, folks. The Flyers were back in action last night, and they gave us a good bit to be optimistic about as they jumped out to a strong start and picked up a 1-0 lead in the first period, but they came out for the second period and pretty promptly blew all of their momentum and, well, the whole game. There’s a lot to parse through in this one, so let’s just get right into it.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick.
56 — Shot attempts at 5-on-5
Say what you want about this game, but the Flyers weren’t wanting for shot attempts in this one. Indeed, despite the fact that they struggled with getting those chances on net (they totalled 23 shots on goal at 5-on-5), the Flyers were still getting some chances and putting pucks in the general direction of the net last night. They even got the slight better of the Islanders herein, as they picked up an adjusted 50.91 CF% on the night.
And what do we do with that? Maybe we take it as a positive that, despite how mightily they struggled to move the puck up ice and get set up in the offensive zone, they did at least top the Islanders’ efforts in this department. The trouble, though, is that putting pucks in the general direction of the net alone just isn’t going to really cut it.
8 — High-danger chances at 5-on-5
Ah yes, here’s the real root of the issue. So yes, the Flyers were generating a lot of raw shot attempts last night, but they really weren’t generating a whole lot in the way of dangerous chances. The Flyers had a lot of trouble getting to the front of the net last night, and when they were able to get close, were looking for a chance in the vicinity, they didn’t have much support to either get everything to click to set up a good chance or to get a second chance in the event that the first chance was stopped.
And when you add to this the fact that the Flyers gave up 16 high danger chances at 5-on-5, it makes a lot of sense why you might have come away with the feeling that they were getting torched in this one. Because they were. Semyon Varlamov played a solid game, but the Flyers didn’t really do themselves any favors in making things terribly difficult on him, and this is something they’re going to have to get back to, getting traffic to the front of the net, if they want to find more success in the next one.
26 — Saves for Carter Hart
All in all, it was a little bit of a mixed bag of a showing for Hart. Really, we can come away from this one generally feeling pretty good about his performance. Yes, he did let in three goals, but the Flyers throughout the evening really struggled with breaking the puck out of their own end, and that meant that were bleeding a lot of chances, so Hart really didn’t have an easy game. He came up with some big stops, and it’s a real testament to his strong play that this game didn’t get really out of hand.
If we really want to nitpick, we could not that the third goal was a shot that he really should have had, that’s true, but perhaps the bigger issue was that Anders Lee was just allowed to park himself in front of the net to get that chance in the first place. And all of this feels like it goes to say that Hart had a fine enough showing in his own, and we wish that he had gotten a bit more support from the defenders in front of him.
4 — Shots on the 6-on-4 power play
We don’t seem to be getting too many penalty calls in this one, and in this one, it took Anders Lee losing his helmet and forgetting he has to go right to the bench when that happens and getting whistled for a penalty for that for the Flyers I finally get a power play, and once they did, well, the results left us wanting a bit.
As it was late in the third, the Flyers pulled Hart to get themselves a two man advantage, but still they weren’t able to really get anything out of it. They got a bit of a cycle going, and had flashes where they looked threatening, and while they did still manage four shots on that one attempt, as was the case for the rest of the game, they didn’t get too much going low in the offensive zone that tested Varlamov terribly. And maybe it isn’t fair to put too much weight on a single power play, small sample size and whatnot, but we still would have liked to see a bit more from this one.
94.94 — xGF% for the third line
With Scott Laughton back in the lineup last night that meant that we saw some reconfiguring happening in the bottom six, and the real bright spot to come out of this was the new third line of James van Riemsdyk, Laughton, and Tyler Pitlick. As we’ve alluded to already, there wasn’t a whole lot that was clicking consistently throughout this game for the Flyers, but this line was a real positive. This line combined for the Flyers’ only goal of the game, from Pitlick in the first, which already set them above the other lines, but this was also the only line the Flyers had that was able to dominate territorialy.
Not only did they hold the edge in shot quantity, with a 62.50 CF%, but as the section title tells us, they dominated in the shot quality differential, picking up an adjusted 94.94 xGF%. And, considering how many high danger chances the Flyers were giving up last night, it’s hard to overstate how huge this was. Now, considering how, well, all of the other lines didn’t seem to be working, it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see some shuffling with the forward lines, but this seems one that should be allowed to stick together a bit longer to see if they can keep their momentum rolling.
28.64 and 30.01 — xGF% for the first and second lines
This section’s something of a two for one special, but we’re lumping them together because the point is largely the same for both of these lines. Simply put, the top two lines were not working last night. Maybe there’s something to say for the fact that the Couturier line still managed a 66.13 CF% while the Hayes line only put up a 39.06 CF%, but the point remains that these lines both got pretty well buried in terms of quality chances, really struggling to generate much at all in the way of offense.
And it goes without saying, but this is a real problem. What was really working early in Game 2 was that the Flyers’ top two lines were going, and that made a big difference. You’re not going to get far in the playoffs if you’re getting nothing in the way of primary scoring, and that’s where the Flyers are drifting back towards. We’ve got a quick turnaround here, but it seems Alain Vigneault is going to have to tweak something, to find some way to get these lines going, because what we’re getting isn’t even close to enough.