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What we learned as the Flyers extended their losing skid to the Capitals

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Some observations for your morning...

Washington Capitals v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Well, folks, that sure was something. The Flyers dropped the last of their three game series against the Penguins on Saturday, and then they were right back at it last night, looking to get back on track in their game against the Capitals, their first time seeing them again since their COVID shutdown. And the Flyers brought a bit of promise, but in the end, fell flat once again. They dropped this one 3-1 and just like that are finding themselves in a bit of a skid as they head into this week’s slate of games. Not great.

All stats via Natural Stat Trick

Joel Farabee stays hot

Farabee’s hot streak just keeps rolling! We talked after the Pittsburgh series about how Farabee made a big impact on the scoresheet in the first of his two games played, and while he was pointless in the second, was still a real positive impact, which made it feel like it wouldn’t be long before he was able to get himself on the scoresheet once again. And what do you know, it only took a day.

The Flyers’ lone goal of the game was brought to you by Farabee, but once again, this wasn't his only accomplishment of the night and he was a positive force in generating chances. He picked up five shot attempts and four shots on the evening, and by the eye, remained one of the Flyers’ most engaged skaters, as others around him started to look a little gassed. With his goal, he jumps to the top of the Flyers’ scoring list, with 11 goals on the season, and has quickly emerged as one of their most consistent skaters, across the board.

How’s that 5-on-5 process looking?

It’s been a bit of an up and down run for the Flyers at 5-on-5, as they were solid against the Sabres and then decidedly less so against the Penguins, and yesterday brought us a similar type of mixed bag. The Flyers had a really solid first period, but then lost quite a bit of steam as the game went on. All told, the averages for shot impacts come out looking not so hot, as the Flyers put up an adjusted 40.47 CF% and 46.8 xGF%.

It wasn’t a consistently poor effort across the whole of the game, as we noted, but when things were going badly, they were going really badly. The Flyers struggled in transition, with the Capitals bottling them up well in the neutral zone, and the Flyers didn’t really have an answer for that, and this certainly hindered their ability to get into the offensive zone and generate those chances they so badly needed to get themselves back into the game. This issues seemed to just compound on each other, and we were left with another not so sharp showing from the Flyers.

Let’s check in with Carter Hart

It’s been a minute since we’ve seen Hart get the start in a game (or, you know, since Tuesday against Pittsburgh, which certainly feels like more than the just five days it was), and despite the fact that this one will show up as a loss on his record, it really wasn't a poor showing from Hart, all in all. He was able to ease into the game a bit, with only seven shots faced in the first period, but then had to deal with a veritable onslaught come the second. All told, Hart faced 27 shots and was able to stop 24 of them (including each of the four high danger shots across all situations). The defensive coverage in front of him left something to be desired, with breakdowns in coverage leaving him exposed, so it’s hard to be too upset about his play when he wasn’t really getting a ton of help. He didn’t steal this game for the team, but it certainly wasn’t a poor showing, either given the workload he had.

He was, in short, solid in this game, and was able to keep this game from getting really out of hand. The Flyers were in this game, technically speaking, the deficit was manageable on paper, but the skaters just weren’t able to pull themselves fully back into it and close the gap.

A note on response

This was, to be brief, a weird one. After the Flyers looked pretty flat on Saturday against the Penguins, we were perhaps looking even more closely at how they would respond with a game coming right on its heels last night. And the first period of this one probably had us feeling pretty relieved—the Flyers came out with some jump, picked up that first goal, and really looked to be controlling play pretty well through the early goings. They didn’t look perfect, but they had some life, and that felt like a promising sight.

But then, after the first intermission, things crumbled pretty quickly for the Flyers, and while they did get a bit of bad luck, they were also just right back to looking a little sloppy and a little flat and fatigued, and the Capitals feasted on the space that they gave them. So, in the end, the right response was there for a moment, but it wasn’t one that the Flyers were able to maintain.

Which brings us to our next point...

What do we do now?

It remains true that the Flyers need to do some work on the defensive side. That still needs fixing, and we’re not going to rehash that now.

Because there’s also the fact that the Flyers just looked plain gassed through stretches of these last two games. And this is, in a vacuum at least, understandable—the Flyers played six games in nine days, including these two back to back, and that’s a pretty brutal workload. Any team would be tired after that. However, the bad news is that the schedule really isn’t going to lighten up anytime soon, and that present some issues. So, that said, do the Flyers need to start rotating more players in and out of the lineup just to keep guys fresher? There likely isn’t an easy answer to that one, but if this is an issue that persists, it’s certainly a question the Flyers will have to confront.