The Flyers are still rolling! After picking up a win on Wednesday in Edmonton, the Flyers closed out their back to back last night in Vancouver, and were able to keep their momentum rolling, picking up a 2-1 win over the Canucks. It wasn’t the wide open affair that Wednesday’s game featured segments of, but it was still a solid showing, and even though we certainly saw some fatigue starting to set in during the third period, the Flyers’ efforts were enough to hold on for that win. Games that don't start until after 10:00 local time are pretty cruel for us, but at least Western Canada has been kind to the Flyers so far.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick.
A note on shot suppression
After Wednesday’s game, we talked about how one of the positive takeaways was that the Flyers were able to pretty well able to keep the Oilers to the perimeter and limit the number of dangerous chances that they were able to generate, and that good work continued into last night’s game as well. The Flyers were able to hold the Canucks to 32 shot attempts at 5-on-5, and only 16 of them made it on goal, and then only seven were considered high danger chances.
Now, the Flyers had a bit of help in the fact that the Canucks just weren’t really playing all that well on their own, they struggled to connect and create chances independent of what the Flyers were doing against them, but that doesn’t negate the good work that the Flyers were still doing. They were creating a nice bit of pressure and were able to use that to hold possession and dictate play. They won their matchups pretty comfortably in this one, and it was quite a well-rounded effort.
The power play looks sharp
But it wasn’t just the Flyers’ 5-on-5 efforts that were paying dividends, they also brought a nice showing on the power play, as well. They had a good bit of time to work with, with 6:59 of 5-on-4 time in total, and the returns were quite good. They put up 13 shot attempts and seven scoring chances, and overall just looked threatening. They had some set bank plays that they were pulling out and those were looking like good options, and their overall passing game was really sharp. They were moving the puck very well, and it had them picking up one goal and knocking on the door a few more times.
There’s something to be said for them needing to do a bit better at actually funneling more pucks to the net, but the Flyers seem to be, at the very least, trending in the right direction on the power play. If they’re able to keep moving the puck as quickly and effectively as they did last night, things are going to break open in a big way for them before long.
And while we’re talking about it...
James van Riemsdyk finally breaks through
The Flyers picked up that one goal on the power play care of van Riemsdyk, and it was a nice one, and in a lot of ways, it felt like it was a long time coming.
It’s taken a little but for his line to really get rolling, and him going as a result, but van Riemsdyk’s been playing some very good hockey over the last couple of games. It felt like things were close to breaking open for him, he was getting some really good chances and doing solid work, but the bounces weren't going his way. Last night, though, his good work continued and he finally got some results.
The work on the power play was good, we see that just from the clip, but the 5-on-5 work also popped. Van Riemsdyk was one of the Flyers’ best players by the underlying numbers, as he put up a stellar 77.72 CF% (first on the team) and 76.37 xGF% (second on the team). His line with Scott Laughton and Oskar Lindblom was driving offense well, putting up nine shot attempts, five scoring chances, and one high danger chance while they were on the ice, versus the five, two, and zero allowed against them. Things are really clicking for them now, and that makes three very good lines that the Flyers are able to roll here. Not too bad.
Martin Jones comes up big again
Don't look now, but Jones has quietly put up two quite solid performances in his last two starts. He had a respectable workload in this one, with 28 shots faced across all situations, and he was able to stop all but one of them (including all of the nine high danger shots he faced). The one goal he allowed was tough to see, but it was pretty fluky, a weird deflection, and it’s hard to be too fussed with Jones about that one. He recovered well from it, it easily could have been deflating, but he was able to lock things down from there on out.
It wasn’t a perfect showing, and we had some reasons to be a little nervous (like when a shot on the rush went whizzing wide of him and he didn’t even react), but overall he was really steady and was able to keep things settled down for his team in front. The Canucks had a bit of a surge in the third period, and it was a tenuous one-goal that the Flyers had to hold onto, but Jones made sure that they were able to do it.
The big picture
With last night’s win, the Flyers successfully swept their back to back, and moved to 4-1-1, and third in the Metro by points. Even if they drop tomorrow’s game to the Flames, they’re in a position where they can come home feeling like the road trip was a success.
They've gotten very solid goaltending on both nights. They’ve found a way to win without arguably their best defenseman in Ryan Ellis (with all due respect to Ivan Provorov, it’s close and he’s also been playing very well). They haven’t been perfect, but the Flyers have found ways to get it done.
It's still early, and we say this knowing full well how quickly things can change and for no good reason, but things are going well around here! Much of the expectations and optimism for this season have been, understandably, pretty tempered, but perhaps it’s time that we remove the qualifiers. This team might just be Actually Good, folks.
*knocking furiously on wood*