Hello everyone and welcome to our first ever round of Jones or No Jones, the game where we find out if the Philadelphia Flyers’ newly acquired 31-year-old goaltender Martin Jones is going to play like he did in the first half of his career or the second half, and as a result we find out what kind of day we’re going to have following a Flyers game. So frequently in hockey, a goalie’s performance can decide a game’s fate, and while it didn’t seem like an exceptional game from Jones, who’s coming off three consecutive poor seasons for the San Jose Sharks and a very shaky preseason, he did make 37 saves on 40 shots against what projects to be a tough Boston Bruins team. So? It’s a Jones Day.
Anyway, somebody reminded the Bruins they have to actually play some regular season games in order to qualify for the playoffs, so they rolled into the Wells Fargo Center for just their second game of the season so far and first in four days.
The Philadelphia coaching staff seemed to be gambling on fighting fire with fire by matching up the top line of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Travis Konecny against the Bruins top trio — and likely the NHL’s top trio — of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak, letting the Flyers advantage in depth forwards decide the game. The Perfection Line buried the Flyers top line in shot attempts, as the two went head-to-head almost exclusively, with Giroux and co. only shaking free for a few shifts in the third period and on their power play shifts.
It seemed a smart gamble, based on the David Krejci-sized hole on the Bruins second line and how well the Flyers’ own second line (Joel Farabee, Derick Brassard, Cam Atkinson) played in the first two games. That line walked away with two goals, both scored by Atkinson, and the Flyers third line of James Van Riemsdyk, Scott Laughton, and Oskar Lindblom essentially split control of the puck with their Boston counterparts.
As mentioned, the Flyers top line was outshot over the course of the game, a trend that began with the first period, where even when they did have a good amount of offensive zone puck possession, it resulted in almost no play around or in the direction of Swayman. Cam Atkinson kicked off the scoring, faking a pass on a two-on-one and squeezing a shot past Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman. The newly acquired winger is living up to that “shoot-first mentality” label that he walked into Philadelphia with.
I’m not usually one to put much stock into “feels”, but allowing a goal in the last 10 seconds of a period feels like a 2020-21 Flyers thing, so it felt really good to see Joel Farabee score a power play goal off a rebound with less than 9 seconds on the clock in the first period. Maybe scoring a goal in the last 10 seconds of a period is going to be — or at least feel like — a 2021-22 Flyers thing.
Scott Laughton scored on a nice play from Yandle, who sent a full-ice pass off the back boards, and van Riemsdyk, who received the pass, beating out an icing and putting the puck on net for a juicy rebound. The Flyers went up 3-1, but the tilt of the ice caught up with them in the second period, as the Bruins widened the shot discrepancy and answered that third goal with two of their own. The first came on a Taylor Hall breakaway that followed a pretty ugly turnover and ill-advised change attempt by Ristolainen and the second when Marchand potted a rebound past both Ristolainen and Jones.
Despite a good amount of scoring chances by the Bruins in the third, the Flyers were able to break the tie on Atkinson’s second of two goals, as he flubbed a shot past Swayman on another odd man rush less than a minute in. The Flyers’ top line was then able to take advantage of a poor line change by the Bruins and move quick up the ice without staring down the Bruins’ Perfection Line, with Konecny netting a wrister past Swayman to put the Flyers up by two, and they never looked back. Most of the play for the rest of the period favored the Bruins, but it was a Jones Day, and Martin Jones held strong. Couturier drew a roughing penalty with just over two minutes left to play, and sunk a three-quarter-ice empty netter on the ensuing power play.
For those wondering whether the commanding 6-1 win over the Seattle Kraken meant that the Flyers are good or the Kraken are bad, this game could provide some hints but no true answers. The Bruins are likely a tougher opponent than either the Canucks or the Kraken, and they definitely played like it. At the same time, the Flyers scored six goals again, and that was enough for possibly their biggest question mark — Carter Hart’s backup — to give them a win. We’ll have more information as the season progresses, but for now, we should probably just enjoy it while we can, just in case it doesn’t last, for they can’t all be Jones Days. Let’s treat ourselves, maybe order a Keith Yandle shirt online or spend our entire lunch break watching compilation videos of Gritty on YouTube or braving the South Street parking for a Jim’s steak with wiz for dinner tonight.
- Wasn’t sure what to expect from Rasmus Ristolainen, having not watching a ton of Buffalo Sabres games in the past eight seasons, except that most of his statistics are underwhelming and most people who like to try and contradict statistics for the sake of it pretend to like him, but ooh boy did he live up to that underwhelming reputation. Besides a few poorly-timed pinches and generally just slapping at the puck in his own zone, Risto was pretty directly responsible for the Bruins second goal, and was standing in front of the net completely unengaged for the Bruins third. Plus, for all the bluster about the hits and the fights and the physical presence, only one such play sticks in the mind (a hard drive laid on Charlie Coyle chasing a dump behind Martin Jones), and he only recorded two hits on the scoresheet.
- Ristolainen is the second Flyer to ever wear #70, following a four-game stint from Danick Martel in 2018. Meanwhile, Jones takes over #35, most recently worn by Steve Mason in 2017.
- Despite puck drop coming some 13 minutes after its scheduled time, TNT’s gameday presentation was pretty nice; love that they’ve got a running tally for shots on goal, was a little thrown off by the rotating ads on the ice (but not really on the ice, (movie magic!!)), and rather enjoyed the visibility of the penalty countdown.
- The entire second line earned the three stars of the night: Atkinson first, Farabee second, and Brassard third.
- Zack McEwen was the third player to make his Flyers debut tonight, having been claimed on waivers from Vancouver a week ago. Except for the fact that I noticed he was wearing 17 on his sweater and one diving defensive play, he was never very eye-catching out on the ice. He played a total of 9:09 across 14 shifts.
- One of the Flyers’ strengths from the last few seasons held true tonight, as they only took one penalty, a roughing call against Ristolainen midway through the first period.