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What we learned from the Flyers’ 3-2 win over the Bruins

Some observations for your morning...

Boston Bruins v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

Well well well, would you look at that! That’s a win for the Flyers! After splitting the first two games against the Bruins earlier in the week, and then dropping Thursday’s game to the Islanders in the shootout, the Flyers came back and picked up a win over the Bruins yesterday. We wouldn’t say that it was a completely tidy win, but it was a win all the same, and there were some real flashes of greatness in it. The Flyers are back at it again this afternoon, so before we turn to that one, let’s put a bow on yesterday’s game, shall we?

All stats via Natural Stat Trick.

By the numbers

Looking first at some of the 5-on-5 underlying numbers, we get a bit of a mixed bag. The Flyers did come out of this one with an edge in the shot attempt differential, with an adjusted 51.86 CF%, which is something, but as has been an issue for them of late, they really lost the shot quality battle, putting up just a 37.1 xGF%, making things quite a bit more difficult on themselves (and particularly their goalie). It wasn’t a perfect effort, but in the end it was still enough to pull off a win, at least this time around.

They got a little lucky in this one—the Bruins’ defense is really a shell of itself right now (especially after Matt Grzelcyk left the game before the second period) and the Flyers were up against a goalie in just his third NHL start that wasn’t looking at his sharpest. They did some good work in this one, but they did get a little help. Are we complaining? Absolutely not. Just observing.

A note on goaltending

And since we mentioned goaltending, let’s look there in a bit more detail. Brian Elliott got the start last night, and as we noted, certainly didn’t have an easy workload, but overall played quite well. All told, he faced 32 shots across all situations, as well as six high danger chances, and he stopped 30 of those shots and each of the high danger chances. The Flyers fell victim to a couple of breakdowns on the goals against, so it’s hard to pin them solely on Elliott. The Flyers needed bailing out a fair few times to hang on for the win in this one, and Elliott came up big for them when they needed it.

We’re pleased with this performance, but as we’re looking forward, we’re staring down another pretty busy stretch for the Flyers. So now it’s time for the reminder the Elliott has to have his workload managed at his age and if that doesn’t happen, well, we’re getting a little worried. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

The power play strikes

A power play goal? In this economy? That’s right folks! The Flyers didn’t have a whole lot of power play time to work with yesterday (just 1:53 of power play time in total), but they sure were efficient in this time. That was technically two power plays (with one cut short by a goal scored and the other by a penalty taken), and the Flyers picked up a pretty neat goal, going 1/2 on the afternoon.

It wasn’t a perfect showing, to be sure. The Flyers only had one shot attempt, scoring chance, and high danger chance while on the man-advantage, and that was, well, that was the goal we just saw. The Flyers are still trying to find some consistency on the power play, that’s for certain, but the play leading up to Gostisbehere’s goal was a decidedly fresh and creative one, and perhaps that’s just what they need more of. I mean, it certainly can’t get much worse.

Travis Konecny, hello

If we’re looking for a bit more good news to come out of this one, one of the bigger pieces would be that fact that, perhaps, Travis Konecny is back.

He picked up a goal and an assist in yesterday’s game, bringing a good bit of flash to this one, that’s for sure.

But it wasn’t all flash for him, of course. Indeed, Konecny brought a really well rounded game to yesterday’s outing. His underlying numbers were strong, as he put up an adjusted 62.16 CF% and 53.56 xGF%, both solid in isolation but also well above the team averages that we mentioned earlier. He was putting in good work there, he brought good energy, he was engaged physically, and he got rewarded for all of that.

And Elliott also summed up his play of late pretty nicely in his post-game presser, noting:

“I think he’s just getting in the dirty areas right now. I can see him grinding away on pucks along the boards, winning battles, you know, that quickness that he’s known for, that fiestiness, I think we’re seeing that more and more and that’s his game, getting in there and getting dirty, and probably making the team mad at him a little bit, and that’s when you know he’s on his game.”

It certainly hasn’t been a completely smooth season for Konecny, but things are really starting to click for him again, and that’s been a pretty massive boost for the team, to say the least.

Where we’re at

And now, before we go, let’s take a moment to check in with the standings and talk about the implications of this game. With yesterday’s win, the Flyers moved one point ahead of the Rangers, and within four of the Bruins (who, we should remind ourselves, still do have those two games in hand). A win today over the Sabres combined with a Bruins loss to the Capitals (help us out a bit here, won't you pals?) would, then, put the Flyers within two points of that last playoff spot as we cruise into Monday’s trade deadline.

The Flyers’ situation remains quite tenuous, and to turn around and start banking on the prospect that they’ll make the playoffs feels like a bit of a stretch. But progress is being made, and if they keep up this good work, the tone of the season may well suddenly be quite different come tomorrow night.

Are we going too far here? To quote Fleabag, “don’t make me an optimist, you’ll ruin my life.”