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What we learned from the Flyers 4-3 shootout loss to the Lightning

Some observations for your morning...

Tampa Bay Lightning v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

What a week of bonus hockey! After Tuesday’s game against the Flames went to overtime (where the Flyers pick up a win), once again 60 minutes was not enough for the Flyers. They jumped ahead with an early lead thanks to goals by Claude Giroux and Travis Konecny in the first period, but then went on to give up three unanswered goals to put the Lightning ahead, including the third with 1:56 left in the third period, when it looked like they were going to cruise to overtire without incident. But they did make it to overtime, thanks again to Giroux, and they got a whole bunch of good looks, but couldn’t break through. So to the cursed shootout they went, and that’s where they lost. So it goes.

All stats via Natural Stat Trick

By the numbers

Despite the fact that the Flyers had a nice edge in momentum to start this game, things ended up going south for them pretty quickly. The Flyers were pretty thoroughly out-chanced in this one, looking both at raw shot volume, and more dangerous chances—the Lightning outdid them 57-41 in shot attempts, 26-15 in scoring chances, and 11-5 in high danger chances at 5-on-5. The Flyers still brought some positive flashes in this one, and they were able to hang around in this game, but the overwhelming takeaway is just how much time they spent defending in this one. They had a pretty comfortable lead to work with, and they just gave the Lightning all the space in the world to create chances and try to get themselves back in the game, and get themselves back into it they did. This game had the strong potential to get away from the Flyers quickly and turn into a blowout, and in some ways it feels like a minor miracle that it didn't.

A note on inconsistency

But, all of that said, the Flyers weren’t without their positive stretches. They were able to turn it on again late in the second period after giving up the first two goals against, creating some push and a handful of nice chances but just failing to convert. The same too was true of the overtime period—they dominated pretty much the whole of it, but Andrei Vasilevskiy put in some excellent work to keep the Lighting alive in this one. The Flyers still have more than a good bit of skill in their lineup,

Now, we know that no team is going to play at 100 percent for the complete whole of a game, that’s not a reasonable expectation, but the swings for the Flyers in this one were just so dramatic. It felt like they were either hanging on by the skin of their teeth, or running a clinic on how to cycle and create nice chances. The offense hasn’t gone away entirely, but the consistency is pretty severely lacking, still.

Claude Giroux appreciation post

We talked about it in the introduction but we’re going to talk about it some more—Claude Giroux had himself a very good game last night. He picked up the two goals, and they were very nice, as he deked out Vasilevskiy for the first, and then jus put home a perfect shot through a bit of traffic to tie the game with just nine seconds left in regulation.

But beyond the scoring flash, his night overall was quite solid. As we mentioned a few points back, the numbers for the team in this one were not very good, but Grioux’s line still managed to fare well, and he put up an adjusted 53.58 CF% and 56.95 xGF%, good for fifth and third, respectively, among skaters. The Flyers were winning their matchups relatively comfortably with Giroux on the ice, and it was a nicely well-rounded performance that he brought. He’s been pretty stellar to start the season, so it wasn’t too much of a surprise to see, but that doesn’t make it any less sweet.

A decent night for Carter Hart

After a very solid showing on Tuesday against Calgary, Hart got the nod once again to face a dangerous Lightning team, and all in all, he fared pretty well. The Lightning got off to a bit of a tough start, but managed to pull it together and put together a decent offensive outpouring. They put up 32 shots on Hart, and he stopped all but three of them, and all but two of the 10 high danger shots he faced. We talked about it already, but the Flyers got caught spending a lot of time defending, particularly in the middle frame of this game, and Hart was the only reason that this one didn’t very quickly get out of hand.

He wasn’t great in the shootout, and the Stamkos goal that just sort of trickled through him was pretty ugly, but his work earlier in the game to keep this one from turning into a blowout when the Lightning were surging pretty well outweighs those ugly bits.

What now?

The big surprise of last night’s game, of course, was the late breaking news that Kevin Hayes would not be playing in it, and Max Willman was recalled on an emergency basis. Alain Vigneault wasn’t able to offer any specifics in the way of updates, even after the game, but we do remember the play in Tuesday’s game where Hayes got tangled up with a Flames player and went flying—exactly the type of play that looked like it could aggravate a core muscle surgery recovery.

Now, the hope is that this will just be a one-off kind of issue, Hayes just needed a night off, and he’ll be good to go again on Saturday. But what if he’s not? The Flyers are going to need help in a big way.

Morgan Frost is heating up in Lehigh Valley, with nine points in his last eight game with a team that is struggling pretty mightily still. He’s playing quite well right now, well enough, we might offer, to earn a proper recall. The Flyers’ offense still needs help, with Patrick Brown being week-to-week with his injured thumb they don't have any extra bodies around, and it’s clear by now that the patchwork job they were trying to start the season isn’t going to work anymore. An injection of a bit more skill into the lineup hardly seems a bad idea, and if Hayes is set to miss time, Frost should be the one brought up to fill in.