That’s another interesting one for the Flyers in the books! Last night saw some festivities to celebrate the newest class of Rick Tocchet and Paul Holmgren being inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame, which was a very nice thing, and then we jumped into what can only be described as another weird game. With a bit of discontinuity, quite a bit of chippiness, and some goalie wizardry, this game stayed tight until the very end, and after Kevin Hayes picked up his first goal of the season to get the Flyers on the board to tie things up, an already long night went longer as we got overtime. It was a quick one though, and the Flyers capitalized on a two-on-one rush and a goal from Cam Atkinson closed things out. Not too bad.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick.
An interesting tone
Maybe it was fueled by the wave of nostalgia from the Hall of Fame festivities and all of the talk of old time Flyers hockey, maybe something was just in their air last night, but there was no mistaking that it ended up being kind of a weirdly chippy game for it being two team who only play twice a year (and who didn’t really see any major dramatics in their first game a few weeks back). With 11 minor penalties handed out between both sides, and then a whole lot of bonus activity after the whistles that didn’t quite reach the threshold of penalties, there were stretches of this game where it was tough to get much momentum going either way, and the game felt a little disjointed as a result. Even independent of this the Flyers had their own stretches where they were fighting things offensively, and things weren’t really coming together for them. They still got quite a few chances, but the issue of them lacking in the high danger chances department is lingering. They’re still trying for fancy plays to set up those chances, but they aren’t really getting the bounces to pull them off right now. So it goes.
But a little more on those chances. The numbers support pretty well what the eye was telling us—that the Flyers were getting a lot of looks, a lot of shots in the direction of goal, but they weren’t really getting too much closer to the goal, and that made Jacob Markstrom’s job a little bit easier. The Flyers got the better of the share of shot attempts and shots on goal at 5-on-5 in this one, putting up an adjusted 53.76 CF% and 52.03 SF%, but were outdone 22-20 in scoring chances and 9-8 in high danger chances. It wasn’t a massive disparity, and we can see that neither side was really running away with this matchup, so maybe it’s not too much to get fussed about, but the fact remains that the Flyers only put up one goal in regulation in this one, their scoring troubles are alive and well, and that they’re struggled to get traffic in front of the net for chances remains an issue. The result worked in their favor this time around, but the process is still a work in progress.
Notes on special teams
Having all of those penalties that we mentioned earlier also meant that there was a whole bunch of special teams time to go around in this one, and the results for the Flyers were a bit of a mixed bag.
The Flames only had four minutes of power play time to work with in this one, and they certainly got their share of looks, putting up seven scoring chances, four shots on goal, and three high danger chances in that time. The skaters made a couple of nice plays to break up chances and get in lanes, but the reality is that Carter Hart was their best penalty killer in this one. They got a little bit of help in the fact that the Flames just couldn’t buy a bit of finish to go along with their nice passing plays, but the Flyers will certainly take that too.
And it’s probably not a surprise that the Flyers’ power play remains a bit of a disaster. It was pretty perfectly encapsulated in a sequence which saw the Flyers win the faceoff to start, and then somehow still ended up defending a shorthanded push by the Flames, which saw them gathered around the net, putting up a high danger chance, and shuffling the puck around enough that it pretty easily could have been three chances or so. But in the offensive zone, to get back on topic, things are still not clicking for the Flyers. The numbers look better in this one, with four scoring chances and three high danger chances in a hair under seven minutes of power play time, and that’s something, but the larger takeaway remains that things still aren't clicking for them, and the overall picture remains pretty ugly.
Carter Hart is still good
We’re getting into the territory here where Hart plays a very good game, and we’re just like “huh? again? yawn.” Anyway, Hart played another very good game last night.
As we alluded to earlier, the Flames also got a lot of looks in this one, and we’ve seen firsthand how quickly their offense can burn you, so that Hart was able to keep them overwhelmingly shut down this time around was pretty remarkable. All told, he faced 34 shots on goal and stopped 33 of them, including all 11 of the high danger shots that he faced. And even the one goal he allowed, it’s hard to be too fussed about it—it was a weird one, with a shot by Oliver Kylington from the point taking a hard turn and deflecting in off of Sean Couturier. Not a whole lot Hart could have done there. But he kept things really stable from then on out, and while it was a bit of an uphill battle for the skaters to get things tied back up, Hart certainly kept them in it. It’s hard to look at his game here and find much to pick apart, that’s for sure.
The only thing that matters
We mentioned it in the introduction, but the big highlight of the night was Kevin Hayes scoring his first goal of the season in his second game back after recovering from core muscle surgery.
It was an important goal for the team, to be sure, as it tied the game and got the Flyers back in it, but it was clearly an even more important one for Hayes. When his shot went in, the building exploded, and he celebrated with a point up to the heavens, in recognition of his late brother Jimmy. And it was a moment that quite honestly felt like it hit like a ton of bricks, and I’m sure I’m not the only one to feel this way. Hockey is hockey and as cold as it can be, but this was an unmistakably human moment, in what it meant to Hayes, and frankly that makes it feel like the only thing that really matters from this game.