You know, I’m not sure what I expected when it was announced that the Boston Bruins would be moving to the Flyers’ division in this weird hockey season. But if the answer was anything other than gut-wrenching pain, I was doing it wrong.
The Flyers, for the second straight game, held a lead over the top team in the East with under 10 minutes to go in regulation. And the Flyers, for the second straight game, blew that lead. This time, they didn’t even manage a point for their troubles, falling 2-1 in regulation to Boston to collect their second straight loss. Of the Flyers’ five losses this season, four have been against this team.
There was no scoring until the third period, when Brad Marchand and Sean Kuraly scored just 27 seconds apart to give the Bruins a lead that would hold up. James van Riemsdyk, who had yet another excellent game, was the Flyers’ lone goal-scorer, with a power-play tally in the opening minute of the third period.
If you’re into masochism and false hope, you can re-live the proceedings as I experienced them in the below recap.
The Game Hasn’t Even Started Yet, Why Are You Writing This
Because: we’ve concerns! The Flyers announced earlier today that Brian Elliott would start this one, which, sure, fine. A few more big games coming up in the next few days, gotta work the backup in somewhere. Plus, he’s played well!
And then there was this announcement about an hour before game time:
Transactions: We have recalled forward Connor Bunnaman and goaltender Alex Lyon (emergency basis) from the Taxi Squad. pic.twitter.com/mSXFVu1P83— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) February 5, 2021
Alex Lyon is joining the roster on emergency basis on a night Brian Elliott is set to start. Hm. That seems like bad news for whoever the Flyers’ other goalie is. Who’s the Flyers’ other goalie?
INJURY UPDATES:— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) February 5, 2021
• Carter Hart (back spasms) is day-to-day.
• Philippe Myers (upper body injury) is unavailable tonight.
So that’s not ideal, but given how out of nowhere this seemed to be from, Carter Hart being just “day-to-day” may fall under “could be worse”. The Flyers have three games in five days, with tonight’s game against Boston followed by two games in Washington on Sunday and Tuesday. It would be a drag for Hart to miss three games against the two teams that are currently up there with the Flyers at the top of the division, but this is why you have Brian Elliott, and maybe Lyon can play fine in a spot start, and hey, shit, did that say that we’re also going to be without Phil Myers tonight?
Well, at least the Flyers now have ... three realistic top-4 options, two of which were very bad on Wednesday. This has the potential to go poorly. Let’s hope it doesn’t!
Period, The First
- Alright, they didn’t give up a goal to the Pastrnak/Bergeron/Marchand line in the first 12 seconds, so we’re making some progress here.
- First decent chance of the game comes off the stick of Joel Farabee, who gets the setup courtesy of JVR behind the net but has his shot stopped by Tuukka Rask.
- Hustle play there by Travis Konecny to force a race for a loose puck, and Brandon Carlo holds TK as he tries to get to the puck. Flyers will get the first power play. Little bit of a weak call, but after how Wednesday’s game ended I’m not complaining about it and wow I couldn’t even finish typing this bullet point before Claude Giroux just tried to kill someone with a slapshot off the draw. (It did not work. As in, it didn’t kill someone. They also didn’t score on it.)
- Fairly lame power play. Flyers sent chasing the puck in their own end twice, and no official shots on goal. Back to even strength we go.
- Fourth line gets stuck in the defensive zone for a shift with that damn top line, and it comes and goes without a goal, but that was nonetheless a bit of an adventure to survival. Not that it’s entirely fair to bring this up after a shift against maybe the best forward line in the NHL, but the fourth line’s falling off a cliff this season (beyond a couple of nice games when Bunnaman first came back into the lineup) is an underrated part of why things have been so out of sorts this year. We thought that was going to be one of the best fourth lines in the league and it just has not been good.
- Jakub Voracek leads the Flyers on a 3-on-2 ... and they don’t get a shot off until the puck is below the blue line, at which point Hayes tries to surprise Rask with a bank shot that didn’t work. Look, I’m generally willing to defer to the decision-making of the guys on the ice when it comes to odd-man rushes, but this team this year really is trying to turn me into a Shoot Person.
- Oh, cool. Cool. Travis Sanheim blocks a shot from Pastrnak and he hobbles over to the bench. That’s what this team needs. And now he has to come back onto the ice because the Flyers iced the puck and he couldn’t get off in time. And now Scott Laughton takes a penalty. Things are going fine.
- Guess Sanheim’s feeling alright, because he helps bail the Flyers out a couple of times in the first minute of that PK.
- Hahahaha oh shit, I misheard what the announcers said just now. I thought when they said the Flyers’ PK was “4 of 11 against the Bruins’ power play”, I thought that meant the Bruins had four power play goals against the Flyers, which is still not at all good, but things happen in small samples against good teams. No, the Flyers have allowed seven power play goals to the Bruins in 11 chances. That is bad. But hey! It’s now five out of 12, because the Flyers have ended that Bruins man-advantage without incident.
- First good offensive shift there in a few minutes for the Flyers, as Ghost makes a nice play at the blue line to maneuver around some guys in black and yellow to keep the puck in and start a sequence that ends with JVR getting a good chance in front on Rask.
- A fight! NAK and Clifton go at it in what is, I believe, the Flyers’ first fight this year. Fine enough scrap, nothing too exciting there.
- And then a bit more pleasantries exchanged over in the Flyers’ zone! Chris Wagner takes a shove at Sanheim, and then Konecny’s in the middle of things as a mini-scrap starts and quickly ends.
- We’re back from commercial break and there are penalties. One of which had nothing to do with that scrap! Konecny is called for interfering with Wagner as they streak into the offensive zone, and Wagner gets two for punching Sanheim in the face. Me, personally, I’d rather get punched in the face than lightly held on the ice, so the Flyers probably got off easy here. To 4-on-3 we g—no! The 4-on-4 has barely started before Charlie McAvoy high-sticks Joel Farabee and the Flyers will get a 4-on-3 chance. McAvoy is maybe the Bruins’ only good defenseman that’s currently active, so, fellas, if there’s a time to score, have to think it’d be this one.
- This power play stinks.
- It still stinks, but a bit less! Voracek tries to pass on a 2-on-1, but he’s hooked by Carlo. The Flyers will get a ... I don’t know how this works as we go from a 4-on-3 to something else. Let’s let the refs explain.
- Turns out the refs have no idea, either. And Alain Vigneault may have forgot how to count for a second there. In fairness, so has everyone else. Also, Boston’s penalty box is a clown car. Anywho, the Flyers are now on a 5-on-4.
- Ooooooooh, no goal, but a silky no-look pass from behind the net by Hayes to set JVR up feet in front of the net. Rask gets just enough of it to knock it out of play, though.
- Konecny has a chance in front just after the PP expires, but he lifts it up and out of play.
- Pastrnak mercifully whiffs on a big wind-up in the final minute there, and in the minute that follows the Flyers get a pair of 3-on-2s that both go without a real shot attempt that reaches the goalie. What’s that thing the kids say? I’m going to become the Joker? That.
- First period ends with no goals either way. Not a bad period for the Flyers, but it’s also not a great sign when you get two more power plays than the other team and don’t turn it into an advantage on the scoreboard. Cannot imagine that comes back to haunt them. Nope, no sir and/or ma’am.
Period, The Second
- That top line of the Bruins gets a lot closer to another opening-minute goal this time around, as they trap the Flyers’ own top line in the offensive zone for close to a minute and get two or three good chances in the process but don’t break the ice.
- Konecny quickly gets a chance to respond in kind, but his shot is knocked out of play again.
- Marchand, again, gets a good chance, as he tries to wrap the puck around the net and looked like he had a good chance at beating Elliott but instead tried to center it, to no avail. Does Boston have any other players than the guys on that top line? If you told me those three dudes played 30 minutes a night, I would absolutely believe you. Anywho, kind of thing Hagg got away with one here:
Why defend the net when you can defend the corner? pic.twitter.com/SdEhE1GmOY— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) February 6, 2021
- Bruins have definitely picked it up this period. No real good chances since that Marchand one right there, but they’ve held the puck more than the Flyers have.
- Flyers are getting back into the groove a bit here. Some back and forth action following the first commercial break, though it’s not ending with many shots actually reaching the goalies.
- I keep hearing a whistle during the run of play every so often. Is that just me? Has the crowd noise just been ... real weird in this one? And if we’re being honest, for the entire season to date?
- Weird bounce after a cross-ice pass by the Flyers sends Marchand and Pastrnak in on a 2-on-1, but fortunately no one told Marchand, because he dumps it in and goes off for a change. He changes for no player, because the Bruins don’t have any other players.
- I’m bored.
Neither team has 10 shots on goal with 8 minutes to go in the second period.— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 6, 2021
- The Bruins are the first to double-digit shots, as Their Only Three Players generate a 3-on-2 from the neutral zone somehow? But Elliott gets over to turn aside a shot from Marchand.
- Ah, there’s the bad thing. Farabee is called for a trip. I didn’t get a good look at it. JJ seems to think it’s a bad call. Let’s see it after we get back from commercial.
- (commercials happen)
- WOW. That is, in fact, a very bad call. Two minutes for being in the vicinity of a guy who fell down. This feels like an inevitable goal.
- Whew, Pastrnak manufactures a mini-breakaway on the power play by getting around Sanheim but Elliott is there to turn the shot aside. For how sporadic the opportunities have been for the Bruins, Elliott has been sharp.
- The Flyers kill the penalty and Farabee is out of the box on a breakaway! And he’s pulled down by Zboril and Young Joel will get a penalty shot. (He gives a look to Zboril, the dude who fell down to draw that last “penalty”, on his way to center ice. I love this guy.)
- And ...
- ... he ...
- ... is stopped. Farabee tries to go five-hole and Rask has the stick down. We remain scoreless.
- Well, here I was yelling at Sanheim for pulling back into the neutral zone in the waning seconds of the period, but all’s well that ends well, as Wagner roughs JVR in the offensive zone and the Flyers will take 1:58 of power play time into the third period. (The Flyers pulled Elliott for the final two seconds of the period to get one whack at a 6-on-4, to no avail.)
- Through 40 ... I dunno. Neither team looks particularly sharp, and they’re both getting some zone time, but it feels like the Flyers’ time has ended with them missing on a pass or not shooting on a good chance, and that the Bruins’ time has ended with them at least sending a puck towards the net. Not how most Flyers games have gone this year. Still, 20 minutes to try and pull out a W.
Period, The Third
- So the Flyers will begin this period on the power play. The first few have not worked out. I would prefer this one does.
- It does it does it does! Flyers lead 1-0 and it’s JVR on a deflection of an Erik Gustafsson point shot. Was mildly interesting to see Gustafsson out there in what would normally be Ivan Provorov’s place, but credit where it’s due, nice shot where JVR could deflect it home. JVR’s resurgent start to the season continues. Not to be lost in it here, nice hustle by Hayes about 10 seconds earlier to keep control of the puck when three guys from Boston were near him and in position to knock it out of the zone. He sent it from there to Giroux, who gets the A2 for putting that puck right on Gustafsson’s tape for the one-timer. Anywho, 1-0 Flyers.
JvR breaks the scoreless tie! pic.twitter.com/uX3i0mQgq0— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 6, 2021
- Some more back-and-forth action here. Voracek wins a race to a puck in the offensive zone and hits Hayes in stride, but Clifton ties him up to prevent a breakaway chance.
- Flyers get caught in a fire drill in their own end, and they get lucky as Sean Kuraly whiffs on a chance at a big shot in the high slot. Flyers clear it, but it feels like they’re gonna need one more to win this.
- JVR, who has been all over the place in this period (and, frankly, much of this game), sets up Laughton for a chance across the net, but he tries to wait out Rask and can’t. First good chance for the Flyers in a bit, as they’ve been doing a bit of chasing. Fast-moving period so far, though, as we reach the halfway point before even getting a commercial break.
- There it is. Off an offensive zone faceoff win, Boston gets a rebound on a point shot from Pastrnak, and a scramble in front ends with Marchand poking the puck past Elliott. 1-1 with 7:59 remaining.
- ...and now Boston has the lead. Kuraly shoots from 3-point range and he picks the glove-side corner, and Elliott just misses it. 2-1 Boston. This has taken a turn for the worse.
- Alright, here it is. Voracek gets outside of Craig Smith along the boards and Smith trips him. They’ll get a power play with just under 4 minutes left. Pull the goalie here, Al.
- He doesn’t. (Yet.) Some good puck movement by the first unit for 45 seconds but no dice, and the second group has one chance in front but can’t connect. A minute remaining as they set up again ...
- ... and nothing comes of it. Flyers pull Elliott with 2:15 left. Penalty expires with nothing doing, JVR gets a chance in front with 1:30 left but Rask is there. The Flyers call timeout on the ensuing stoppage.
- Puck out of play with 1:07 left. Nice pass by Gustafsson to Voracek down low before that chance.
- Not as good of a showing in the next 30 seconds, but the Flyers chase it down for icing with 31 seconds left.
- And again. 6.9 seconds left. (Nice.)
- Nope. Sanheim gets the final look, but it goes wide. Flyers lose this one by a score of 2-1. Not all bad tonight — honestly, they largely have played this team to a territorial draw over the last two games — but to have a lead with under 10 minutes remaining in two consecutive games against one of the best teams in hockey and to only come away with one point in those two games is a failure. Can’t sugarcoat that.
Back at it with The Big Game on Sunday. (Note that The Big Game may not actually be Flyers-Capitals.) Go Flyers.