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Flyers 5, Coyotes 3: Roving goalies

This was a silly one.

Philadelphia Flyers v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Norm Hall/NHLI via Getty Images

The Philadelphia Flyers and Arizona Coyotes played a pretty goofy game tonight. What happened, who stood out, and why did any of it matter? All of that and more below.

What went right?

The Flyers came out with a bang for a change, dictating play and getting a goal for their efforts. While the Coyotes certainly are a team where you’d expect this team to dominate them, Philly taking care of business (especially early in games) has been far from a guarantee this season. Good for JVR, who continues to heat up.

The Flyers exited the first period with the score tied 1-1, but they certainly looked like the better team. Still, “dominant” wouldn’t be an accurate description, and against a roster icing Andrew Ladd and Loui Eriksson in 2021, anything less than that is a bit lackluster.

Thankfully, Scott Laughton found the back of the net to retake the lead. Nice to see him get rewarded for playing hard with a goal in his 400th NHL game.

In between scoring plays, the Flyers again did a quality job of controlling the game and keeping Arizona on the perimeter, although some scoring chances did come open here and there. Notably, this game was one of the better outings for the team from an exit and entry perspective, a welcome change from the “dump the puck every damn time” style seen under Alain Vigneault.

Oh, and Travis Konecny said hello to a familiar face. How wholesome.

The operative “goofy” part of this game was squarely thanks to Coyotes goaltender Karel Vejmelka, who made one of the funniest errant passes in recent memory to a bewildered Patrick Brown. Not the flashiest way for a guy to get his first goal in the Orange & Black, but I doubt Brown was complaining.

Travis Konecny put a nice shot on goal to extend the lead, although a scoring change later would confirm that James van Riemsdyk Jimmy van Roofjob tipped the shot past Vejmelka for his second goal of the game. Great to see No. 25 finally getting in a groove, even if it’s a bit late for that given the standings.

Claude Giroux wrapped things up with a nifty finish off the rush to make it five for the Flyers. Cam Atkinson did a great job feeding the captain the puck, but what goes under appreciated in plays like these is the efforts of guys like Travis Sanheim and Morgan Frost that lead to getting the puck out of the defensive zone and starting an odd-man look.

Overall, a solid if unspectacular outing for the Flyers against a team they clearly outmatched. Not much to get stoked about, but getting the job done is better than, well, losing 10 games in a row.

What went wrong?

A defensive breakdown and Martin Jones going for a walk led to Arizona’s first goal of the game, scored by Jay Beagle. It truly is amazing that every single bad NHL contract of the past five or so years is on the books in Glendale, suiting up for games donning the Kachina. Lord knows it makes watching your team concede a goal to them that much more painful.

A Nick Schmaltz floater from out high found its way past Martin Jones, who was stuck behind a pair of screens. That tied things up for a bit, but ultimately didn’t cost the Flyers much. You’d certainly like to see the defenders (specifically a terrifyingly strong guy like Ristolainen) do a better job of clearing the front of the net there.

Finally, a Lawson Crouse snipe handed the ‘Yotes their third goal of the game. Cool to see the big fella flash some of the skill that had him pegged as a top draft prospect a while back, even if he’s been a fourth line player for his whole career. Less cool when it’s coming against the Flyers, but hey, you can’t expect everything to go exactly how you’d want, I guess.

Overall, the Flyers suffered from some of the same problems that have plagued them for years (defensive zone lapses, losing puck battles, untimely turnovers), but managed to win anyways. Not too bad.

Three Big Things

  1. The improvements on the second pass of breakouts under Yeo cannot be understated. It’s like the Flyers forgot they even had the option to do something other than fumble every single reception when in transition, but then suddenly remembered how to function as a unit again the moment Vigneault was fired. This isn’t to say that everything through the neutral zone was perfect, and this came against a broken team, but the little things like this make otherwise unwatchable hockey enjoyable.
  2. Morgan Frost keeps impressing with flashes of his offensive potential and growth in the defensive zone. He forced takeaways that initiated rush attempts and quarterbacked the power play like a seasoned veteran tonight. The young forward found an assist on Giroux’s late goal for his fourth point of the year in nine games, which didn’t hurt either.
  3. This was the first time the Flyers had won back-to-back games since October 28th. It feels a bit late to take much solace in defeating the Coyotes, of all teams, but you’ve gotta feel at least a bit thankful that the team was mildly watchable tonight. Maybe this is the beginning of something fun? Doubtful, but anything other than losing 10 games in a row is an improvement.

Post Game Tunes

Throwback to NHL 2002 with this one.

Good night, good hockey, and as always, go Flyers.

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