And that’s three in a row! After losing ten in a row, the Flyers are getting themselves back in track in a big way, and stringing together some wins. After a successful road trip out to Vegas and Arizona, the Flyers were back for a quick stop at home to face off the Devils, yes the very same Devils that gave them some real trouble not too long ago, and they were able to take care of business easily, picking up a 6-1 win on home ice. It was an exciting one, to be sure, and things really seem to be moving in the right direction again for the Flyers.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick.
Cam Atkinson, a man on a mission
If there was one major standout from last night’s game, it was Cam Atkinson. He’s been looking good recently, but last night he was on a whole other level. He was buzzing, creating a good bit of pressure and some nice looks, and he was rewarded for that with a hat trick, the Flyers’ first of the season.
And the scoring burst was obviously nice to see, but it wasn’t as though that was the only thing working in Atkinson’s game last night. He was flying out there and causing a lot of havoc (for the Devils, in a good way for the Flyers), and his assist on Oskar Lindblom’s goal was a perfect example of that—he forced a turnover on the Devils’ breakout attempt, and then sent the two of them rushing back in on goal, and then made a clean feed to Lindblom for the goal. It was opportunistic, but it was also hard working, and that pretty well sums up Atkinson’s night.
Flyers dominate play as a whole
And then dipping into some of the numbers, they are, and stick with us here, very good for the Flyers. It’s not a thing that we’re used to saying, it feels good. The Flyers came out with some real jump in this one, and they grabbed an early edge in possession that they really didn't give up for the rest of the game. They won their matchups pretty handily, and came out of this one with an adjusted 60.66 CF%, 57.81 SCF%, and 67.29 xGF% as a team at 5-on-5.
It’s still early, and the Devils are a team with a weaker (on paper) roster than the Flyers who are also dealing with some kind of non-COVID illness running through their team, but the signs are pointing towards the Flyers turning their process around here, and that’s certainly good news. They’re quicker and more effective in moving up-ice in transition, they’re getting stronger on their forecheck and retrieving more loose pucks, and that’s all helping them put together more extended looks in the offensive zone, and in turn, more dangerous chances. That’s been severely lacking through much of the season, but they very well may be turning a corner here.
A fine night for Carter Hart
Well would you look at that, another win for Hart. Yawn.
Okay, sorry, jokes aside, Hart has been having a really strong season, and he tacked on another solid win to the pile he’s amassing. We wouldn't call this his best game, but it was still a good one. He didn’t have a massive workload, particularly early, as he faced just six shots in the first period, and then 27 in total, including just four high danger shots. But overall he did well enough with that somewhat limited workload. There were a couple of moments that we could nitpick and say he looked a little off in his angle or his reaction time, but nothing came of that, and he was able to settle in to this one well. The Devils didn’t get a ton out of their offense in the way of dangerous chances in this one, but they still had a couple of surges, and Hart was key in weathering them. And that’s certainly good enough for us.
Taking care of business
We wouldn’t call this a perfect win, there were still a few moments of breakdowns in the defensive zone that opened up time and space for the Devils to get some extending time pressuring, but overall it was still a good one. We don't expect perfection, and don't want to get overly critical here, because this was still a pretty tidy win, and it was the Flyers doing exactly what they needed to do. Because, while the win over the Golden Knights over the weekend was a bit of a pleasant surprise, they should have beaten the Coyotes, just like they should have beaten the Devils last night, and they did it. It might sound like we’re praising them for clearing a low bar, beating the teams that they should beat, but we all know that this wasn’t a bar that they were clearing even a week ago (when, of course, they were getting beaten up on by these very same Devils). It was a good win, and a necessary win, and working out how to not play down to your opponents is a big step for the Flyers.
Some bad news…
The biggest, and certainly worst, but of news to come out of last night’s game was the loss of Morgan Frost, who left mysteriously in the first period and never returned, with no update provided. Until after the game, that is, when Mike Yeo revealed that he had been pulled for reasons relating to COVID protocols, but that was the only information he had and was able to share. We should know this morning.
And there’s a lot to unpack with that. It was and would be a real shame to see him miss time, because he’s been playing some very good hockey since his recall. And we hope that he’s healthy and doing okay. This pulling doesn’t automatically mean he received a positive test result back, he could have been pulled for an inconclusive test, or for some kind of contact tracing precaution, but something is going on there. And if the case is that this was a positive test, that certainly opens up concern both about another outbreak happening on the team like we’re seeing around the league, as well as how the Flyers could fill Frost’s place if they are to just keep on rolling, with the injuries they’re dealing with and how thin their realistic list of call up options is. We don’t want to immediately jump to the worst case scenario, but there might be some fallout that the Flyers will have to deal with, and today will be an interesting one as we await another update.