The Flyers are rolling folks! If they picked up some momentum from their couple of wins over the Devils last week, they kept it rolling into the weekend for a pair of games against the Islanders, their first meeting since the Islanders knocked them out of the playoffs last summer. It wasn’t always pretty, but the Flyers did show some improvement this weekend, and it opened the door for them to pick up two overtime wins to send the Islanders home virtually empty handed. So, overall, not too bad of a weekend at all.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick.
49.18 CF% at 5-on-5
As the Flyers continue to work to improve their 5-on-5 process, we’re keeping an eye on just how quickly they’ve been able to improve it. Relatively speaking, it was a fine enough weekend for the Flyers from a possession standpoint. Yes, a 49.18 CF% on a whole season isn’t a result we’d be very pleased with, but it is a distinct improvement over their 45 CF% in their series against the Devils and their 39.27 CF% in the series before that against the Bruins.
The Flyers are still struggling to generate chances for themselves—they totaled 71 shot attempts over these last two games, the fourth fewest in the league over that time span—but the good news is that at least they aren’t bleeding chances to the same degree that they were earlier in the season. The scoring results are still on their side, but the underlying process has to come along a bit more before this offense can get back to looking positively lethal again.
7 HDCF at 5-on-5
When it comes to more dangerous shots, the story was the same. The Flyers put up a pretty meager seven high danger chances for between their last two games—three on Saturday and four last night—as they really seemed to struggle to get themselves to the front of the net to look for chances and really test Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov. Seven high danger chances is the fewest created by any team in the league over their last two games, and that’s a little concerning. It’s a small sample and we do know how the Islanders can frustrate teams trying to generate a lot of chances, but it’s still a concerning total.
They did only give up eight high danger chances themselves, so the differential doesn’t look too bad, but the point remains that this simply is not a whole lot generated in the way of difficult chances. The goals were coming from them this weekend—and this isn’t to diminish the work that was done in creating them—but this also doesn’t quite scream “sustainable.” They’re going to have to bring a whole lot more than this to their next series against the Bruins.
5 shots on the power play
This likely isn’t going to come as a huge surprise, but it wasn’t quite a banner weekend for the Flyers’ power play. Granted, we didn’t see a whole lot of them, as they played just 7:54 across the last two games, but the performances they gave us weren’t terribly inspiring. Overpassing was really the story of the Flyers’ last handful of power play opportunities, as they slipped back into the mode of just moving the puck around and looking for a perfect place, rather than going for generating chances in bulk. And they did have a bit of trouble with bouncing pucks, that happens, and that certainly made their jobs a bit more difficult last night. But the end result was a total of just five shots on the power play, and only one high danger chances. In short, they never really looked particularly dangerous on the man-advantage this weekend, and the struggles therein continue.
They did pick up one goal on the power play—a 4-on-3 goal to win last night’s game in overtime—so maybe that makes the results look a bit more positive, but the fact does remain that there’s still some work to be done here.
28 CA on the penalty kill
On the flip side, the Flyers did have a pretty significant workload on the penalty kill this weekend, as they totaled a whopping 18:58 of time down a man. But if we’re looking for a bit of good news, the Flyers’ penalty kill was, overall, pretty sharp in all of that time. All told, they allowed 28 shot attempts, which isn’t a stellar total, but they were at least able to keep the Islanders pretty well to the outside, and limited them to just 16 shots and four high danger chances, keeping them from looking too threatening in their time on the man-advantage.
They did still give up the one goal, and the breakdown that led to it wasn’t one that we’re terribly thrilled by, with a bit of screening and scrambling happening in front of Brian Elliott last night. But given the amount of time they had to spend on the penalty kill, the results were overall pretty positive. You’re not always going to get perfection, but this we can certainly live with.
59.66 CF% for Philippe Myers
The Flyers got a much needed boost this weekend, as Myers was cleared to return to play after sustaining a rib fracture on the 19th against the Sabres. The defense has, to put it delicately, struggled mightily in his absence, and in some ways it felt like Myers’ return couldn’t come soon enough.
It was a solid first weekend back for Myers, as he put up strong underlying numbers, with an adjusted 59.66 CF% and 67.11 xGF%, good for third and first among all skaters in his 37:36 at 5-on-5. As we talked about already, the Flyers didn’t manage an edge in possession on a team-level through these two games, but they did when Myers was on the ice, as he contributed well to their ability to shut down the Islanders from getting chances of their own.
All told, it really wasn't a terribly noticeable weekend for Myers, and maybe that’s a good thing. Truthfully, the defense has been a little too noticeable recently, and for all of the wrong reasons, so a quietly solid performance is something of a welcome change. Myers didn’t miss that much time, but he’s still got to get himself back into the swing of things, and this was certainly a strong weekend and step towards that.
3 goals for Joel Farabee
The Flyers also got something of a highlight reel performance from Farabee, as he picked up three goals for his First NHL hat trick. And he really was, if you’ll forgive us the pun, buzzing last night. On top of those three goals—which easily could have been four, if we’re honest—the underlying numbers were sound as well. He came out of the night with a team-high four individual shots and five shot attempts at 5-on-5. His line with Scott Laughton and James van Riemsdyk had something of an interesting night, as they got a little buried by chances (putting up an adjusted 46.48 CF%), but they did do well to prevent those chances from getting through, and doubled down on their own efforts at generating dangerous chances, as they also came out of the night with a 70.54 SF% and 72.38 xGF%. It seems that they’re still getting adjusted to playing together, but this has been a line that’s showing some promise, with a good mix of speed, strong forechecking, and playmaking abilities, and last night Farabee was the beneficiary of all of that working pretty well together.
And, before we go, we should offer up a nod to van Riemsdyk, who assisted on all three of Farabee’s goals, as well as on Kevin Hayes’s overtime winner last night. That’s his second four-point game of his career, and puts him at 13 points in his first 10 games, which ties him for his most productive start to a season in his career (thanks to the Flyers for pulling those stats). And we don’t really need to give you a breakdown on that. van Riemsdyk is off to a hot start, driving offense when the team pretty sorely needs it.
Well, here we are, folks. We’re ten games in, the Flyers are 7-2-1 and sitting at second in the division, and things seem to be trending upwards. As we broke down above, there are more than a few pieces that the Flyers have to work out in their process before they can really look like they’re firing on all cylinders, but the results are still coming for them, for now at least. Next up, the Bruins are in town, and they’re back to playing well themselves, so this will be the next big test for the Flyers to see what they can do.
But, all that said, this feels pretty good, right? The Flyers got walloped by the Islanders in the playoffs and now this feels a little bit like revenge, which we’re certainly not complaining about.