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Capitals 6, Flyers 3: Train in vain

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Somehow this was even worse than the score indicates.

Washington Capitals v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

The Flyers played the Capitals today, and as expected, things went poorly. What happened, who did what, and where are we headed in the musical landscape for our post game tunes of the day? All of that and more below.

First Period

With Alex Lyon in for an injured Carter Hart, an already difficult to win game seemed completely out of reach from the get-go. After a Lars Eller hit that caught Claude Giroux in the head that went uncalled, Justin Braun took a tripping penalty, Alex Ovechkin got a look, and the Capitals were up 1-0. Same story, different day.

The Flyers turned it over plenty in the defensive zone, replicating the issues that have plagued this team all year: failing to mark your man, switch coverages, and anticipate play rather than watching the puck. The lone quality offensive play of the first ten minutes or so for Philly was a pass from Scott Laughton to Carsen Twarynski, but the big winger skied the shot in embarrassing fashion. Sam Morin took a few hits he didn’t like and crosschecked Garnet Hathaway, looking for a fight to spark the team, but ultimately took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to send the Flyers back to the penalty kill.

After a missed Ovechkin one-timer rimmed around and out, the Flyers got a crack at the man advantage thanks to a Nick Jensen hold on Jakub Voracek. Unfortunately, the Philadelphia counterpart to Ovechkin’s lethal unit was flaccid, wasting 40 seconds to even get the puck into the offensive zone. Few pucks even got on net in the two minute sequence, and aside from a JVR look from in tight nothing looked close to a dangerous chance. The Flyers looked totally overmatched through the entire period.

Thankfully, the captain came to play. A great shift from Joel Farabee created and sustained the cycle in the dying minutes of the period, and a great bit of puck protection and vision from Giroux gave Ivan Provorov the game-tying goal off a seeing-eye shot with just one second left.

Second Period

Just 33 seconds into the second period, Dmitri Orlov buried a goal to make it 2-1. The Flyers got caught napping, Ovechkin won a puck battle down low, and the gap between the two widened. Deja vu yet again. The Caps almost made it 3-1 when a rush sequence opened up the offensive zone for a trailer, but Nicolas Aube-Kubel made a stellar defensive read and blocked the pass to save a high-danger chance.

After a great shift by Jake Voracek and Phil Myers ramped up the pressure, James van Riemsdyk and Aube-Kubel got behind the Washington defense and made no mistake on the breakaway. This was Jimmy van Roofdaddy’s first goal in 18 games, but his two-way play has largely masked the lack of tallies as of late. Unfortunately, Aube-Kubel had his ubiquitous penalty, this time a hook on Ovechkin, and the Great Eight buried another one from his office to make it 3-2 just four seconds into the power play.

The Capitals continued to exert their will, dominating the crease and slot with ease. Phil Myers saved an easy John Carlson goal with a swift stick, but a fantastic pass from Tom Wilson to Evgeny Kuznetsov caught the Flyers staring at the puck yet again, and the Russian centerman buried the undefended attempt to make it 4-2. Jake Voracek was tripped and sent Kuznetsov to the box, but the Flyers again failed to do much of anything with the power play, hindered by brutal skating and puck control at the blue line by Ivan Provorov. The Orange & Black exited the second period down two goals with little hope left.

Third Period

A TJ Oshie interference on Phil Myers set up another power play, but the Flyers brutally muffed entry attempts and neutered whatever momentum there was to be gained. The Capitals imposed their might for the next few minutes at even strength, but a Conor Sheary trip on Wade Allison on the Washington half-wall sent the Flyers back to the man advantage.

After an extended absence from both units, Shayne Gostisbehere returned to the power play and got things going with Travis Konecny and Jakub Voracek. Kevin Hayes made a slick pass, and Wade Allison ripped it, finding his first career NHL goal. Great puck movement from the Flyers for a change, and a nice moment in a sea of deserved cynicism and anger.

Of course, nothing joyous can last with this team, so on the ensuing face-off Conor Sheary put one past Alex Lyon to make it 5-3. Just awful nonsense to crush any hope of a comeback that might have been remaining, because Flyers fans can’t have anything nice, ever. Even Jim Jackson was totally bewildered.

A bullshit goaltender interference call sent the Caps back to the power play to ice the game, but the Flyers actually had a successful penalty kill, including a 2-on-1 started by Laughton that ended in an Oskar Lindblom miss. Worth noting here that Laughton created almost the entire play, for those in the comments who aren’t a fan of his recent extension. The term might be worth getting annoyed about, but Laughton is a solid player who contributes heavily to what little success this team has found.

A Kevin Hayes rush turned into mush, and the big pivot responded with a slash that gave the Capitals another power play. The Caps were merciful and mostly took their time, continuing the trend of Flyers penalty kills that just kinda... end? There have been a lot of PKs recently where the only reason the unit didn’t give up a goal was due to the opposition making mistakes or generally playing with little energy, and this fit the bill.

After a last gasp with the goalie pulled, Anthony Mantha potted his third goal in as many games as a Capital with the empty netter. The Flyers lose this one 6-3.

Three Big Things

  1. Wade Allison has been the real deal through two games. He’s certainly a player to keep an eye on, especially if some of the other young, middle-six guys don’t pick up the pace. Big Red has a nose for the net, and he honestly should have found the back of the net on Thursday’s game too. The power and awareness of his game at just 23 years old is encouraging to say the least.
  2. Nicolas Aube-Kubel played well today, even if he took a costly penalty. The Flyers have sorely missed his puck retrieval success and intelligent defensive play that he flashed last year. Hopefully the gritty winger can clean up his discipline and improve his consistency, because when he’s on, he’s an effective player for this team.
  3. The power play and penalty kill are pretty broken. The PK is rife with overpursuit and awful vision with stick placement, and the power play (perhaps more annoyingly) has been hampered by constant personnel changes, lackluster design, and completely incongruent choices for who goes where. Ivan Provorov has proven that he isn’t a power play weapon; watching him try to walk the line is bad enough, but even off the puck the young defender has concrete blocks for feet. Shayne Gostisbehere should be the established guy on the top unit, even if only for the purpose of boosting his trade value. These are things that coaches need to be held accountable for.

Post Game Tunes

In honor of Wade Allison’s first career goal that ultimately went to waste, here’s a song with a title about the Big Red Train scoring in vain.

Have a good rest of your Saturday, folks, and as always, go Flyers.