Well, all of the fun was good while it lasted. After knocking off the Kraken and Bruins both this week, the Flyers matched up against the still undefeated Panthers last night—one that’s given them a good bit of trouble in recent memory—and had themselves a bit of a tough showing. It was certainly spirited, but marred by mistakes and lack of discipline, and ended in the Flyers dropping this one by a 4-2 margin. So it goes.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick.
Messy, messy, messy
Let’s get right into it. We alluded to it in the introduction, but it bears repeating that this just was not the cleanest effort we’ve seen from the Flyers. Lack of preparedness is a big accusation to levy, and we may not go that far here, but the reality is that the Panthers came in playing their brand of fast, aggressive forechecking hockey, and the Flyers just did not have an answer for it. They were forced back on their heels for good stretches in this game, and that hurt them in a big way. They were forced into big errors and lapses in judgement—and sometimes also unforced into them—weak plays and turnovers being big, and the Panthers were able to capitalize on that for chances against.
They were pretty well outplayed at 5-on-5 last night, putting up an adjusted 41.38 CF%, 37.97 SCF%, and 44.04 xGF%. We can't point to any one of the forward lines to say that they comfortably won their matchup, the offensive struggles were pretty widespread up and down the lineup in this one. The Flyers have been getting by a bit here on talent and chemistry, but last night told us that this isn’t an immediate cure-all. The details need to be taken care of, and this just wasn’t wholly the case for the Flyers last night.
A note on discipline
The Flyers let this one get away from them. We talked about some of the mistakes and miscues that hurt them in this one, but just as big of a problem was their continued taking of needless penalties. The Flyers took seven (7) minor penalties, and that’s a total that just isn’t going to fly going forward. They were physically engaged in this one, and that’s something that you do want to see, but it crossed over into the realm of excess here. The Flyers were chasing this game, trying to either tie it or pull ahead, for most of it, and they kept setting themselves back by taking penalties that stemmed from chasing the game (trips and interferences), and getting caught up in the heat of the moment and trying to stir something up (looking at you with that third period roughing penalty, Nathe Thompson).
They shot themselves in the foot, and they’re going to need to work on keeping their cool going forward. We obviously like the offense that they’re able to generate, but it’s hard to do that when you’re busy killing penalties.
Overall good work on the penalty kill
That said, the Flyers did do some very good work on the penalty kill, which is certainly good news, considering how many reps they got there. Their first go was not a good one, as off the faceoff Claude Giroux went hard to pressure the puck carrier at the point, didn’t get there in time, and was pulled out of position to defend the pass to and shot from Jonathan Huberdeau, and that put the Panthers on the board. But they really did clean up their performance after that. In 11:29 of total penalty kill time, the Flyers were able to limit the Panthers to putting up just 10 shot attempts, four shots on goal, and one high danger chance. They kept up that aggressive play, and this time it didn’t burn them, indeed, it worked well as they were able to create a nice bit of pressure, getting sticks in lanes, and forcing turnovers to keep the Panthers chased out of the offensive zone.
Oh, and then there was also this that came as a result of their aggressive play on the penalty kill.
Cam Atkinson. Shorthanded. A masterpiece.
A mixed bag showing from the power play
The bad: We’ll get this out of the way right off the bat. The good outweighed it here, but the Flyers did have a couple of ugly bits on the power play last night. The first was on their first attempt when they really struggled with Florida’s forechecking pressure, and could not make a clean entry into the offensive zone to save their lives. They were very quickly neutralized there, and it was looking like it was going to be a long night. The second was in the third period when Keith Yandle made a pass well past Giroux into no man’s land, then had the puck picked off, which sent the Panthers off shorthanded for their third goal of the night. Messy.
The good: Once the Flyers were able to figure out their zone entries and clean up their passing, of course, they did still make some nice looks for themselves on the power play. In 6:47 of power play time, they put up nine shot attempts, six scoring chances, and four high danger chances. It was a nice bit of work, and they were able to create a nice bit of pressure through some quick, clean passing plays, and that was also how they set up their one power play of the night, and it was a beauty.
Carter Hart puts up another solid showing
If we’re looking to close this one out on a mostly high note, we’ll do it was the note that Hart once again had himself a pretty solid game. We’ve talked already about how much time the Flyers spent down a man, and how they were otherwise chasing the game and struggling to find their own offense, so that means that Hart had to be on if the team wanted to have even a chance of staying in this game, and he delivered on that. All told, he faced 30 shots and stopped 27 of them for a .900 save percentage, and stopped six of the seven high danger shots he faced. The numbers don't look stellar, but the performance itself, on the whole, was still solid. He was tracking the puck well and squaring up nicely, and avoiding leaving many dangerous rebounds. He was quite steady overall and that was huge for the team.
The second Huberdeau goal did pretty well sum up the night though—Hart made a nice save on Huberdeau’s initial breakaway shot, the rebound went behind him, and then Huberdeau was able to bank a shot in off of Hart from below the goal line. Once again, so it goes.