Typically in the first game after a head coach is fired, said team has a bit more jump than usual. But with the firing happening in the middle of a back-to-back, it was a bit of a mystery going in if this would apply to the Flyers lead by Mike Yeo tonight.
It started with a pretty big change to the lines. Oskar Lindblom joined Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny on the top line, Morgan Frost on line two with Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk.
Early on the Flyers seemed to play with a better sense of purpose, like how they did in the first few games of the season. Get into the offensive zone, get pucks on net. The Avalanche aren’t the best defending team but with that said, the Flyers were clearly attempting to enter the zone with more control.
That new-look second line would be the one that got the Flyers off on the right foot, as Frost dug a puck free and spotted a wide-open Giroux who, I’d say let out some frustration, with a blast that put the Flyers up 1-0. Giroux was pretty vocal about how embarrassing the last loss to Tampa Bay was, so you know he wanted to light the lamp tonight.
Oh, that was sexy, Claude.— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) December 7, 2021
And the "yeah, I just did that" celly pic.twitter.com/O4xEED43ur
Shortly thereafter, we saw the first power play post-Michel Therrien. It had some better moments, mostly generated by some nice work by Frost, but then Giroux fell going for a puck at the boards, and the aggressive Colorado penalty kill was off. A 2-on-1 with Yandle back, and that went about how you’d expect it to. Tie game with a goal from Erik Johnson.
The Avs wouldn’t stop there as Gabriel Landeskog does what Gabriel Landeskog does: snipe pucks. It would have been nice to get a save from Martin Jones there, and maybe some more aggressive defending from Travis Sanheim and Rasmus Ristolainen, but at the end of the day it’s a pure snipe from Landeskog.
The Flyers would take a penalty almost immediately afterwards, and on cue give up a power play goal to the Avalanche. Alex Newhook got the Scott Hartnell pass in the slot (remember those fun times?) and didn’t exactly snipe it but got enough to get it by Jones. Then because why not just pile it on, the Avalanche got another power play.
Cale Makar does what Cale Makar does: skate by everyone. 4-1 Avs.
Just when it looked like there was going to be nothing left in this game to be happy about, Oskar Lindblom finally got his first goal of the season. Konecny made a beautiful pass to Lindblom from behind the net and the Swede didn’t miss, 4-2 game but more importantly, Oskar was on the board
Konecny sets up Lindblom's first goal of the season! pic.twitter.com/UW41oDJpw7— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) December 7, 2021
And then my friends, a funny thing happened. The Flyers went on another power play and ... there was actual movement! A non-stationary power play! Truly wasn’t aware this magic was possible, and it didn’t stop there as it lead to this unknown entity known as a power play goal. No surprise, it was the captain yet again coming to the rescue of the fledgling Flyers, making it a 4-3 game heading into the second period. Congrats to anyone who bet the over on this one.
As it has been much of the season, just when the Flyers got some momentum, it almost immediately got snatched away. Valeri Nichushkin beat Jones just 1:42 into the period and the Avs took a 5-3 lead.
After that goal however, this game calmed down dramatically in terms of goals scored. There still seemed to be plenty of ice to work with, and the Flyers looked dangerous again on another power play, but failed to convert. At the very least, this was the best the Flyers’ offense has looked in as long as I can remember.
A standout member of the offensive push, was Morgan Frost. Every time he stepped on the ice he seemed to be generating some kind of scoring chance. He’s been impressive since re-joining the team, and is making a push to be a real building block around a team possibly set for an extensive rebuild.
Cam Atkinson left the game briefly in the second period, but came back out for the third and made an immediate impact. Kevin Hayes found a darting Atkinson going to the far post and it deflected off his stick into the back of the net, and just like that it was a one goal game again.
Atkinson was clearly in pain after the goal, hobbling back to the bench. It’s been a rough go for Cam since his hot start, but he is the definition of a warrior and it was damn nice to see him light the lamp here.
But the momentum would be short-lived, the Flyers went on the penalty kill yet again and then the referees decided for some reason the Avs needed help to beat this team, and gave them a 5-on-3. It was a weak call on Laughton that lead to the 5-on-3, and moments later Nazem Kadri would score to make it 6-4 Avs.
Tyson Jost would tack on another, and the Flyers give up seven goals on back-to-back nights. Scott Laughton would add a goal late shorthanded, but the Avs win 7-5, and hand the Flyers their ninth straight loss.
They’ll hope to end the losing streak Wednesday vs. New Jersey.