After mixed lineups in their first two games with several AHL (or worse) players on the ice, Alain Vigneault sent out all of the Flyers’ big guns in this one. The Flyers lineup we saw tonight just might be the lineup that we see against the Vancouver Canucks on October 15th.
The Flyers were the much better team throughout the game in their 3-1 win. Claude Giroux, Cam Atkinson, and Scott Laughton lit the lamp as Martin Jones made 21 saves on 22 shots in the victory.
The two teams practiced a shootout after the game, with the Capitals “winning” it in nine rounds. Morgan Frost scored the Flyers’ only goal in the shootout.
What went right?
For starters, the power play. The Flyers had three power plays in the first period and although they only scored on the first one, it was refreshing to see.
The top power play unit went to work on a great shift in the offensive zone. All five players on the unit were involved in the play and a great keep at the blue line by Keith Yandle led to a vintage one-time goal by Claude Giroux.
Good work by the entire top unit from the entry all the way to Giroux's goal. Excellent keep by Yandle at the line leading to the goal. pic.twitter.com/ggZ9jEnsg2— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) October 2, 2021
Keith Yandle has been impressive in both of his preseason games thus far. The depth defensive addition is going to be key on the power play and the third pair as well.
The power play units for tonight’s game are likely what the Flyers will go with to start the season. Giroux was on the right side for most of the power play time, but he was moving around with the rest of the unit and his goal came from the left side. Only time will tell where and how Giroux plays on the power play, but the top unit has some spice to it.
Speaking of spice, the Flyers and Capitals got physical early on in this one. Offseason addition Rasmus Ristolainen showed off his game with four hits in the first period alone. And they weren’t cheap ones, either.
Ristolainen brings a much-needed physical presence to the Flyers. The change of scenery may help him out.
The physicality continued throughout the game, culminating in a near-fight in the third period.
Provorov knocks down Hathaway, then Brassard jumps in to help out his defenseman. pic.twitter.com/lQiaqEdSHA— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) October 3, 2021
There were a few post-whistle scrums with the Flyers jumping in to help out their teammates, which is great to see with this new group.
Giroux’s power play goal was his only point on the night, but he could’ve had a few more. The top line of Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Travis Konecny has been reunited in Training Camp and were firing on all cylinders against the Capitals. They had several great shifts with sustained pressure in the offensive zone.
Another line that has been clicking is the third (second?) line of Oskar Lindblom, Derick Brassard, and Cam Atkinson. They continued to generate chances in their second game together and put one in the back of the net.
Cam Atkinson crashes the net and puts home Oskar Lindblom's feed to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead! pic.twitter.com/lk4YBkkPnx— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) October 3, 2021
After some shaky shifts, the Flyers put it away in the final minutes. Scott Laughton took a pass from Nicolas Aube-Kubel for a breakaway and slid it home to give the Flyers a 3-1 lead.
Scotty Laughts slides it home! pic.twitter.com/ktvNyZafN6— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) October 3, 2021
Lastly, Martin Jones rebounded well after a bit of a shaky start on Thursday night. He allowed just the lone power-play goal from the slot that he was out of position on due to a blocked shot, but other than that he played well. It was nothing spectacular, but a solid 60 minutes from the Flyers’ backup netminder.
What went wrong?
Thursday night’s game had the TNT broadcast issues, and The Farg fell victim to technical issues of their own on Saturday. The second period ended with 2:54 left on the clock due to the power going out in parts of the arena.
On the ice, the Flyers lacked a finishing touch (or just luck?). They were the much better team on the ice and the stats showed that. The Flyers had a 2.34 - 0.82 advantage in 5-on-5 expected goals through two periods, but only had a power-play marker to show for it. Cam Atkinson had one of the Flyers’ best chances, but he was denied on a breakaway and the rebound attempt. Scott Laughton hit the post off a pass from Nate Thompson, too.
The Flyers also fell victim to the NHL’s rule crackdown this season. One of the top line’s best shifts was cut short due to a cross-checking penalty on Konecny in front of the net. It wasn’t a penalty that would’ve been called last season, but times are a-changin’.
It wasn’t great to see the Capitals controlling play late in the game. Washington pushed back a bit after the Flyers took a 2-1 lead in the third period; it was all Capitals for a few minutes after their power play as well. There weren’t many dangerous chances, but a full NHL lineup should be able to close out a game better than they did, especially against a lackluster Capitals lineup.
Three Big Things
- Rasmus Ristolainen. The big defenseman is going to be one of the literal big things every game for the Flyers. On Saturday, he showed the give-and-take of his game. He was physical from the get-go and had more than a few big hits in the game. However, he also had a few not-so-great plays that allowed the Capitals more scoring chances and offensive zone time than necessary.
- It felt unfair to put Morgan Frost in the “what went wrong” category, but he didn’t do too much to impress. He had a few good moments on the forecheck and in the defensive zone, but it was nothing spectacular. Though his roster spot is pretty much locked in with Kevin Hayes out, he needs to show more in the final few preseason games to gain confidence heading into the season. And hey, he scored the Flyers’ lone goal in the shootout!
- A win! It’s only the preseason, but the full team getting a win under their belt in their first game together has to be a good omen, right? Two of the top three lines appear to be building chemistry and the Frost line still has time to find it. The defense is much improved with Ryan Ellis, Ristolainen, and Yandle in the fold. And hey, Martin Jones looked alright!
Post Game Tunes
Make this the goal song, the Flyers.