At first blush, one might look at a match-up with this year’s Dallas Stars and their highlighter sweaters and salivate a little. Coming into tonight, they hadn’t won a game in regulation and have not scored at rates befitting a team that was in the Bubble Cup just a year and a half ago.
The Flyers, meanwhile, were coming off a hard-fought win over the best team in the NHL and were returning their top defensemen and second-line center from injury. But sometimes, you just run into a team that’s due, or a team that’s incredibly desperate for a win to help try and get their season back on track, or you’re on the second night of a back-to-back having traveled some 1,200 miles in a day playing a team with two days rest. And sometimes it’s a little bit of all three.
All things considered, it feels difficult to be super disappointed with tonight’s performance, even though it ended in a loss. They had more shots on goal than Dallas at 5-on-5 and at all strengths, but those numbers were mostly buoyed by a strong first period. It’s likely they simply ran out of fuel by the time the third period rolled around. Plus, Martin Jones had to have a No Jones Day eventually. It’s just too bad all these factors had to coalesce on this night, for this otherwise winnable game, instead of at any other point in November. The Flyers will return to the land of brotherly love for a three-game homestand against the Flames, Lightning, and Bruins.
With a full strength roster for the first time in the 2021-22 season, the Flyers came out strong in the first period tonight. They drew the first power play of the game (on a delay of game on multiple faceoff violations on the Stars) and although the outcome was ultimately the same as the previous 20-something power play attempts, this one did not look as miserable. They had some sustained zone time, and it really helps having Ellis and Hayes on that second unit.
The Flyers were controlling much of the play, but Dallas struck first, as Luke Glendening executed a textbook deflection past Jones off a John Klingberg point shot.
They picked up a second man advantage opportunity and again did not score, but continued looking competent, even dangerous at times, during the two minutes when they had more players than the other team. Again, Hayes — with his ability to gain the zone and his patience with the puck — and Ellis — with his strong breakout passes and neutral zone pick movement — bolstering that second unit really makes up for when the first unit doesn’t get set up. They’re at least likely to have the puck in the correct third of the ice.
There was a moment where it looked like the Flyers might’ve evened up the scoreboard when a beauty of a pass from Konecny through home plate to Sanheim on the backdoor resulted in a goal celebration from the NBCSports Philadelphia+ graphics department and Sanheim himself. Eventually, a review determined the puck did not go in the net, but decidedly did not determine where the puck did go. If it went through some kind of portal and ended up somewhere else, referee Brandon Schrader was relatively unphased, simply telling us that “the call on the ice stands, we have no goal.”
The period came to a conclusion with the shot total at 19-7 in the Flyers favor, including 12-7 at even strength. The Boston-area college line looked strong, not allowing a single shot on Martin Jones during their ice time together.
A Seguin tripping penalty was quickly cancelled out by a Couturier tripping penalty, resulting in some high-event 4-on-4 player and then a shortened Stars power play that Philly successfully killed off.
The Flyers’ play didn’t have the same bite for the majority of the second and the Stars would double their lead with seven minutes left; a failed Yandle clearing attempt ultimately ended up on Roope Hintz’s stick with nothing between him and a yawning goalmouth.
The Flyers’ first goal came on a broken play and was credited to James van Riemsdyk, as he had been the last to touch the puck before it slid into the goal off the closed glove of a Stars defender. The Stars would get it back almost immediately as Tyler Seguin continued his torching of the Flyers with a redirection off a sharp-angle Jacob Peterson pass. The Stars then took their first true power play opportunity thanks to a Hayes crosscheck on Michael Raffl. The Flyers would partially kill it off before the period ended and they entered the second intermission having allowed ten shots (including two on the power play) to their six during the stanza and facing down a two-goal deficit with just twenty minutes left.
The leftover Stars penalty time gave them a jolt to start the period, and despite not scoring, they would go right back on the advantage after Joel Farabee interfered with Hintz, where they would score again on a Pavelski shot from Hintz. After seemingly ten minutes of aimless play, the Flyers would go to the power play on an Alexander Radulov hooking call. That aforementioned second unit would cash in this time following a lot of zone time by the top unit, as Provorov stepped into a Hayes drop pass.
The Flyers would make a push, but it was ultimately cut at the knees by a Radek Faksa empty netter. Even if a pretty brutal early whistle had not canceled out a clearly legal Zack MacEwen late goal, the Flyers would not have had the time or even the effort, it seemed, to push the mounted comeback over the top.
- Even during the times where Hayes is ineffective or slumping, he’s still always an interesting player to watch. He often makes creative decisions, is very patient with the puck on his stick, and has very soft hands. I kind of forgot about that in his absence, so it was a nice surprise to be reminded of that. His line started the game looking strong, but he seemed to run out of steam by the end, which could probably be attributed to returning from a surgery and not playing a game in six months.
- James van Riemsdyk looked confident playing on the top line with Couturier and Giroux. Even beyond the goal that he technically scored, his clean and simple passes help that line move through the neutral zone and he always knows what to do with the puck in the offensive zone.
- Flyers fans have always traveled well, and in addition to plenty of orange and black jerseys, we heard a “Let’s go Flyers chant down two goals with around ten minutes left in the third period.
- I can’t rightly say that Martin Jones played well tonight, but none of his four goals allowed (on 30 shots) felt abhorrent to me; if anything, he probably could’ve saved the Pavelski semi-rebound if he’d read the bounce better and been in better position. But for what he’s given us so far this year, it’s hard to pin tonight solely on his shoulders.
- Maybe this isn’t the right forum for this complaint, but there doesn’t seem to actually be any forum for this so: when the Pennsylvania lottery commercials say that their groundhog mascot is PA’s second most famous groundhog, it confuses me. I always thought having a groundhog as the mascot was a reference to Punxatawney Phil. Is it not supposed to be him? Are they not one in the same? If not, then why is the PA lottery’s mascot a groundhog????
- Ristolainen and Sanheim were bright spots once again: their play resulted in a lot of action on both ends of the ice, but the Flyers came out ahead in that action. Risto finished this game sporting a 60.98 CF% at 5-on-5 and Sanheim a 58.14 CF%, leading all Flyers defensemen.
- Michael Raffl is second all-time in games played for the Flyers by undrafted players with 504, just 22 games behind ‘80s Finnish winger Ilkka Sinisalo’s 526. Tonight was Raffl’s 527th career game, with, of course, the most recent 22 coming for the Washington Capitals and the Dallas Stars and not the Philadelphia Flyers.
- This was the fourth game of the season where the Flyers lost more faceoffs than they won. It’s long been a strength for this group, and while it’s traditionally doesn’t have a huge impact on the game, there is a certain calming mindset that comes with at least having the puck at the start of play.
- All four of the Stars’ previous wins this season have come after the third period, making this their first regulation win since May 5 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.