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Some observations from last night’s game

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And a reminder we have this man in net.

New York Islanders v Philadelphia Flyers - Game Seven Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Today, I’m not going to be writing the observations in my normal, bulleted point format. I feel as if that game last night calls for something else, which believe me, it does.

Let’s get this out there: last night was an objectively atrocious display from your’s, mine, and our Philadelphia Flyers. When a club goes down three games to one in a series, then crawls all the way back to force a seventh game, you would expect more than 12 shots on goal at 5-on-5 and a 46.25% Corsi-For in the entire game. It’s especially stinging given that the Flyers actually started this game fairly well in my opinion. Right off the bat, they had a couple of chances that were close, including that Jakub Voracek deflection off a pass that hit the inside of the post. However, regardless, they weren’t able to beat Thomas Greiss despite the early Corsi advantage.

After that, well, the Islanders controlled nearly every aspect of play. They took the lead after Scott Mayfield was allowed to sneak into the low zone on the right side, and to his credit, I don’t think any goaltender would have stopped that shot. Regardless, that goal spelled the end for the Flyers. Game flow slowly but surely climbed in the Islanders direction and the Flyers afterwards looked hapless.

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It was such a shame to see that after such an explosive start, the Flyers couldn’t muster the energy to have another try and getting back into this game. As the game was midway through, I saw most of the blame being pointed at a perceived “lack of effort”. I don’t think it has anything to do with that. They simply looked like a tired team that was out of gas, and lacked the ability to take their game into that second drive that we saw in games 5 and 6. You could call that “lack of effort” if you please, but to me at least, effort and energy aren’t coordinated exclusively. You can also call that taking a “losing mentality”, but it’s hard to muster more when the tank is empty. Regardless, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t an issue, obviously. The fact that this game happened in the fashion it did requires some changes to how the Flyers prepare themselves.

The previous paragraph makes it seem as if I’m solely pointing the finger at the Flyers coaching staff, however. This is not the case. Yes, Alain Vigneault did not look like the same Jack Adams finalist coach of the regular season, and Michel Therrien’s power-play was thoroughly powerless (if any coaches are to go, Therrien is who I think should be let go). However, that doesn’t mean that it’s their fault exclusively. Key forwards, including most of the top six, couldn’t score to save their lives in this series, and when you compound that with some sloppy play in the Flyers’ own zone, that is a recipe for disaster.

Like I said, they looked as if they had nothing left to give, from both a physical and mental perspective. That is partially on the coaches from the mental side of things, but the story changes if early on, the Flyers take the lead, and that is on the players. Completely aside from any of the problems I described, even if the Flyers were very well rested and prepared for this game, if your top six doesn’t provide, no amount of additional fitness will earn you a victory. Come the start of next season, drills on finishing chances in the offensive zone are in order.

All of this considered, that doesn’t mean there weren’t bright spots in this game. Carter Hart was able to keep the Flyers in this game for the majority of play, and this playoff experience (like with most of the Flyers’ young players) can only serve to strengthen him. If you weren’t convinced before, you should be convinced now that Carter Hart is The Guy. We also saw the return of Oskar Lindblom, a monumental moment. He played most of his minutes with Travis Konecny and Sean Couturier, and made some typical Oskar Lindblom plays in the offensive zone. Obviously, it is imperative that Lindblom take his time and that the Flyers don’t rush him into anything. However, having Lindblom back to his normal self, whatever that may be, can only serve to benefit the Flyers.

To bring this article full circle, I am upset and outright angry with the Flyers at how last night transpired. However, I am also inspired by some of the things I’ve seen from them this season, and am looking forward to this team’s bright future. It is completely understandable and acceptable to be weighing both of these opinions.

Nobody should be happy with that game yesterday, but don’t let that sully what this team have done this season.

I’m not trying to convince you to feel a certain way, nor am I trying to defend last night’s performance. As I said and described in the observations, it was an objective nightmare. Though, looking beyond that, the Flyers won a playoff series for the first time since 2012, let the young players take a leading role in both winning and losing in the playoffs, and we were shown just how good Carter Hart really is. All of this is even without considering the regular season the Flyers had, though in the end, due to the stoppage of play it’s hard to look back and connect the regular season and playoffs seamlessly.

Changes will be needed, that is for certain. It’s now up to Chuck Fletcher to improve this team and show he can do better than his performance at the trade deadline, and it’s up to Alain Vigneault to become a different coach come the 2021 playoffs. It’s also up the players, both for the veterans to take their duly earned criticism and to grow from that, and for the youngsters to learn from this playoff experience.

The observations from this game were bleak, but in our sadness and anger, there is a light that is only beginning to burn bright.

All stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick