Well, that outdoor game certainly didn’t go as well as the last one did, huh? We knew this was coming, most of us probably spent much of this week telling ourselves that, with everything stacked against the Flyers, this was probably going to end up being a bloodbath. This doesn’t mean that it felt any better watching that 7-3 loss unfold before our very eyes, but it wasn’t altogether unexpected. And what can we glean from this loss? Well, let’s dig into that.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick.
1. Farabee stays clutch
After the Flyers gave up the first goal mere seconds into the first period, there was a real feeling of “well, here we go,” and a concern that things were going to snowball badly and early. But that’s not quite what happened. The Flyers got settled into a solid first period (more on that soon). and with the help of a pretty nifty goal by Joel Farabee, got themselves back into the game.
Farabee ties it up! Couturier's dump-in bounces to Farabee off the boards. pic.twitter.com/YJFbkOk9WY— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 22, 2021
We certainly appreciate that bit of flash, but really, on the whole, it was a solid game for Farabee. His line with Sean Couturier and James van Riemsdyk got a couple of nice looks, and picked up a territorial advantage in a game where the team as a whole was getting caved in for long stretches, ending the night with an adjusted 60.46 CF% and 54.72 xGF%. It’s a shame he didn’t get to cash in on another chance, but Farabee (along with his linemates) was doing some good work in this game. We’re going to resist making a buzzing pun, but, well, yeah.
2. Good start goes bad
As we mentioned in the last section, the Flyers, like they did in their last game against the Rangers, put together a pretty solid first period. They did give up that first goal, but they responded well, getting themselves on the board and also pretty well dominating by the chances—they put up 22 shot attempts to the Bruins’ 15, and six high danger chances to their three at 5-on-5. It likely wasn’t going to be a pace that they could keep up throughout the whole of the game, but it was encouraging to see that they were hanging around in this one.
But the Flyers, also like they did against the Rangers, saw the wheels start to come off in the second period. The Bruins really picked up steam and were able to take over the game, with the Flyers sort of losing their structure and breaking down in ways that were pretty ugly. The end result was five goals against in the final two periods across all situations, and at 5-on-5, the Flyers being out-chanced 38-23 and out-shot 23-5. In short, it was not exactly a recipe for success.
3. Not a banner night for Carter Hart
The spiral that started in the in the second period certainly had some process-related causes, with all of the defensive breakdowns and failures to break the puck out of their own zone, but those were also exacerbated by the fact that the Flyers didn’t really receive outstanding goaltending from their starter in Hart last night. It’s the elephant in the room, so let’s talk about it.
Hart did have a healthy workload in this one, with 23 shots against across the first two periods, and he didn’t always get a ton of help from the defense in front of him, but letting in six goals, especially when at least half of them were on shots that he could pretty clearly see coming, had time to react to, it’s hard to blame that on the defensive breakdowns as well.
Now, here’s the thing: when Hart’s having an off game, it tends to be clear pretty quickly. It’s hard to blame a coach for wanting to give him a chance to recover and right the ship on his own, to not rattle him by pulling him too early, but when it’s clear that isn’t going to happen, you have to be decisive, and that’s not what happened last night. Could Hart have been better in this game? Absolutely. But it also may have been a different game for the Flyers is Elliott had come in after the third goal against.
4. Some notes on special teams
It wasn’t a perfect showing, but we did see some positive flashes from the Flyers’ special teams units last night, so it’s worth touching on that before we go. The Flyers overall looked steady on the penalty kill, going two for three on the evening, and limiting the Bruins to just six shot attempts and three shots on 5:06 of power play time. They had a few nice instances where they were able to break the puck out of the defensive zone, and if not getting a shorthanded chance, were at least able to burn some time tying the puck up in the offensive zone, so we like the work there.
Now, they did have a breakdown on the play leading up to Nick Ritchie’s goal, and the Bruins made them look silly, which we perhaps should have expected. So, all in all, a bit of a mixed bag there.
The power play, in its own limited opportunity, did take a step forward from what we saw in the last game. in. 4:08 of power play time, they picked up seven shot attempts and three shots, so they were able to get some chances (though no high danger chances), while showing some flashes of nice puck moving. And they even got rewarded for it this time around, with van Riemsdyk picking up a goal late in the third period.
There’s certainly still a bit of work that needs to be done, but it’s a fine enough result, given the personnel that they had to work with.
5. Nothing matters, that’s okay
This loss was a tough one, there’s really no way around that, and there are certainly pieces that we could criticize (as evidenced by our sections above). But the point remains that this Flyers team is greatly depleted right now, and the Bruins are very good. Maybe we would have felt better if they had played all game like the first period and still managed to lose, I don’t know. It’s impossible to say how we might otherwise feel. This period, until the Flyers get some of that missing core back, is going to be a tough one, and it’s just going to be a matter of weathering this storm. The Flyers are still third in the division, and that’s hard to be too worked up about. But things are just going to be a little ugly for a little while. So it goes.
But man, that lake view sure was pretty, huh?