The Philadelphia Flyers have now lost six straight games after tonight’s loss to the New Jersey Devils, and the end to this miserable stretch is nowhere in sight. With the Rangers, Lightning, and Avalanche ahead, it’s going to be tough for the Orange & Black to right the ship in the immediate future.
In the present though, what happened in tonight’s game, who stood out, and why did the Flyers ultimately suffer another painful defeat? All of that and more below.
What went right?
Not much. The Flyers hung with the Devils for stretches in this game and had a handful of strong shifts, but failed to ever dictate the way it unfolded, instead buckling under sustained rushes and succumbing to mistakes.
One of the few bright spots was the penalty kill. Against a dismal Devils unit ranked in the league’s bottom five for power play percentage, the Flyers found a short handed goal and allowed zero opposing tallies. That’s about all you can ask for when down a man, even if the opposition isn’t quality content.
That short handed goal, by the way, came off of the stick of Scott Laughton, whose individual effort (combined with P.K. Subban’s brutally slow skating) tied the game after Philadelphia trailed towards the end of the first period.
After falling down a goal again, Joel Farabee maintained his recent offensive production with his third goal in as many games, knotting things back up at two apiece in the third period. The Flyers owe the referee who created a Devils turnover on this play a thank-you.
Unfortunately, nothing else was a major positive to draw from tonight outside of the play of Martin Jones, who again looked like a solid NHL backup. He deserved a better performance from the skaters in front of him (there’s a sentence I didn’t think I’d be saying too often before the season). The Flyers look broken.
What went wrong?
Systemic defensive issues have been a problem for a few years now, and it appears that they aren’t going away any time soon, or at least until Ryan Ellis returns. Travis Sanheim was outmuscled, Rasmus Ristolainen had a few brutal turnovers and was out of position on a number of offensive chances, Ivan Provorov flubbed pucks and didn’t drive play, yadda yadda yadda. The only player on the back end tonight who didn’t commit a brutal positional error was Justin Braun, from my estimation.
The first goal: Travis Konecny fails to get a stick on a puck fed to Dougie Hamilton in the slot.
Mango and Ham > Melon and Prosciutto pic.twitter.com/VpyEHNPaWT— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) November 29, 2021
The second goal: Ristolainen commits a rough turnover along the boards, gets turned around and opens up a passing lane, Cam Atkinson gets beat, and it’s an easy dunk.
The third Devils tally: Ivan Provorov bobbles a puck and creates an odd man rush.
The fourth goal: Sean Couturier takes a nap, Keith Yandle decides he’s gonna double team the puck carrier. The slot is uncontested and Nate Bastian (Nate Bastian!) tickles the twine.
WELCOME BACK, BASTIAN YOU BEAUTY. pic.twitter.com/TYWazP2nES— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) November 29, 2021
Three Big Things
- There’s a decent chance Alain Vigneault is fired soon. This game gave him a chance to turn things around, and now the Flyers will face three tough opponents in a row. Some of the problems with the team are clearly born from the roster, but this group, even without Kevin Hayes and Ryan Ellis, is too talented to look this lifeless.
- Martin Jones is making his case for being more than a fluky stretch of games better and better as the year goes on. He made a few big saves and didn’t lose the Flyers this game, which is all you can ask of a backup. Good for him.
- This team needs an in-season trade to fix the defense unless Cam York becomes an excellent NHL player and heroically saves us all. Some of the issues are systemic, but there’s not a single player on the blue line who’s been a plus presence in the defensive zone this season. Ryan Ellis is an amazing player, but he’s not going to save the team from five other guys who can’t execute breakouts or track with their man.
Post Game Tunes
The Union won, so that’s something at least.
Good night, good hockey, and as always, go Flyers.