If you had told a Flyers fan last week that the Flyers would absolutely dominate a game from start to finish — as they did last night — most of them would’ve laughed at your nonsense.
But both by the numbers, and visually, the Flyers dominated this game. They were far more aggressive with their approach to neutral zone play and forechecking, and seemed to have worked on their positioning heavily since their passing around scoring areas was phenomenal.
Claude Giroux has been, above and beyond, the Flyers’ best player this season, and he had another strong game. Some of the plays he was able to see go beyond hockey IQ and step into the territory of pure wizardry.
Meanwhile, Cam Atkinson, as to quote our own Eamon Smith…
“…is fun as hell and one of the few Flyers who consistently excites every time he touches the ice. Love him.”
Same, Eamon, same.
On the opposite side of things, while his game-to-game statistical profile appears streaky due to the team’s play as a whole, Carter Hart still finds himself holding a 0.915% save percentage. Simply by observation, Hart looks to be back on track, and while some of the key saves he’s made have been in games the Flyers had no chance of coming back in, Hart’s play has been very strong, and he’s played like a top 10 goaltender in the NHL this year so far (to our dismay, Igor Shesterkin has been competing with Andrei Vasilevsky for the best goaltender in the NHL title so far).
However, back to the current situation at hand, the Flyers’ 6-1 victory over the New Jersey “Jersey” Devils. The Flyers controlled the run of play, the Corsi battle at 5-on-5, for the entirety of this game, from puck drop to Hart hugs.
As such, the Flyers also pulled significantly ahead in terms of expected goals at 5-on-5. This does, believe it or not, tend to happen when you win 6-1.
Not only did the Flyers threaten the Devils’ net far more often, but they did so from prime scoring areas. Just take, for example, Cam Atkinson’s first goal of his hat-trick effort. Credit goes to Rasmus RIstolainen, who very well could have simply shot the puck on net as Atkinson was lurking at the post. However, Ristolainen smartly sent a hard pass to the tape of Atkinson’s stick instead, and this caught Mackenzie Blackwood out of position, giving Atkinson quite a generous target to shoot at.
If we stripped away the jerseys from this hockey club, and showed this game against one from last week, you’d think it was an entirely different team playing. The difference has been that night and day for the Flyers.
If anything, despite what may be best for the long term future of the club, it is nice in the short term to see this team win games. Winning games in indeed fun.
Stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick