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Sharks 3, Flyers 2: Chum in the water

Despite a valiant effort from a new face in net, the Flyers looked listless yet again.

Philadelphia Flyers v San Jose Sharks Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

In yet another edition of #FlyersAfterDark, the Orange & Black took on the San Jose Sharks in the Shark Tank in search of their seventh consecutive game with a point. What happened, who stood out, and why did it matter? All of that and more below.

What went right?

The Flyers were opportunistic in the first period and managed to get a goal for their troubles, coming via a spectacular tic-tac-toe from the Lindblom-Konecny-Frost line.

A rare “props to Keith Yandle” moment for taking a risk and creating the odd man rush there. That’s one of the only positive things you’ll see written about his performance tonight. After this goal, the Flyers began settling into a rhythm and finally dictated the pace, controlling shot attempts and scoring chances until the clock hit zeroes.

Late in the third period, Philadelphia found a scoring chance after Yandle chipped the puck out of the defensive zone, and Joel Farabee made no mistake, tying the game at two apiece. In a game where the Sharks outright dominated, getting a loser point was above expectation, so at least there’s that to say about the team’s performance in regulation.

Outside of that, worth saying that Felix “Darude” Sandström didn’t look bad at all in his first NHL start. Outside of a few juicy rebounds he kept it steady between the pipes, proving his athleticism wasn’t understated with some sprawling saves that made things closer than they deserved to be.

What went wrong?

Oh boy. From the start, San Jose crushed Philadelphia in terms of puck possession and scoring looks, peppering poor Sandström from every conceivable location. The process tonight was a downright travesty; zone exits, power play entries, basic cycling plays, and forechecking were all wholly sloppy and ineffectual. This was an embarrassing outing from the Philadelphia Flyers, arguably worse than last night’s struggle-fest against the lowly Seattle Kraken.

The power play continues to be abysmal, with San Jose outscoring the Flyers’ units thanks to this Logan Couture pickpocket. The Keith Yandle experiment needs to end. NOW. If Cam York isn’t better than this dude Chuck Fletcher might as well trade him tomorrow.

Brent Burns glided through the middle of the ice unchallenged before picking his spot and pulling the trigger. This is a wonderful microcosm of the kind of defense on display this evening. Putrid.

Tomáš Hertl finished things off in overtime after Cam Atkinson couldn’t get to a loose puck. Felix Sandström, welcome to playing goalie in Philadelphia. It never gets easier.

The Sharks only had any difficulty in this game because they struggled to finish on chances (thank you, Felix) and fell victim to the Flyers flashing their talent on occasion. When looking at the box score, it’s pretty clear what happened: the bottom six got absolutely ass-blasted from the first horn to the last. When Matt Nieto is posting a 99.63 xGF% at even strength, that’s telling. The overall control of the game never fell out of San Jose’s hands, even if the score doesn’t reflect that.

The CF plot from tonight’s game. Woof.
Image via Evolving-Hockey.com

Three Big Things

  1. When was the last time you watched a Flyers game and said “man, that was fun!” to yourself? I honestly cannot recall. This team is lifeless, as exemplified by a 5-ON-3 POWERPLAY where they spent the first 40 seconds or so simply standing around and passing the puck with zero movement. I don’t know what kind of come-to-Jesus moment the dudes in that locker room need, but it sure feels like it’s beyond past time for them to feel some urgency.
  2. Tonight was a test of whether the Flyers could hang with teams in the league’s middle of the pack designation. The answer was a resounding no. Over a larger sample size, this kind of game ends in a 4-1 loss or something along those lines. That the team managed to squeak out a loser point is impressive, but infuriating; it tells you that the talent they have is good enough to barely show up and still keep things tight with mid-level rosters.
  3. I hope Felix Sandström gets more chances to show his stuff and round back into form. He’s had a difficult career with injuries, illness, and inconsistency, but his athletic ability for his size is rare and entertaining to watch. Maybe he can play himself into a backup role behind Hart somewhere down the road, or at the very least into getting looks from other teams? Who can say.

Post Game Tunes

This feels like it’s the Philadelphia sports fan’s anthem, at least in terms of the title of the song. When will the pain cease? Who knows.

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

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