The hits keep on coming, folks. The Flyers’ losing streak lives on, as they dropped their seventh in a row with last night’s loss to the Rangers. It wasn’t as brutal as some of the losses in this skid, if we’re looking for some consolation, and the Flyers did show some offensive flash in this one, but in the end, they also let this one get away from them. So it goes.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick.
Slow starts strike again
If the hope for this game was that the Flyers would have learned a lesson from their flat start in Thursday’s game and come out with a bit more jump in this one... well, you’re probably disappointed. The Flyers came out flat again in this one, and it took them more than 11 minutes to even register their first shot on goal. The crispness and cohesiveness in their game wasn’t really clicking early, and it wasn't a surprise that they fell into an early hole.
We do have to credit the Flyers, as they were able to settle in a bit as the game went on, and had a nice little push in the third period. But the Rangers were more opportunistic in this one, and were better able to capitalize on the mistakes the Flyers were making (so it wasn’t really a surprise that they were able to tie the game again, just 37 seconds after Cam York gave them the lead). This wasn’t the worst we’ve seen them play of late, not even close, but the slow start and the mistakes really killed them here. Mike Yeo has talked a lot about breaking bad habits, and it’s clear that this is still a work in progress.
Another solid showing from Carter Hart
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before, but last night’s game was a good one in general from Hart, but what killed them was the lack of support in front. Hart didn’t have the heaviest workload in this one, as he faced just 27 shots on goal and five high danger shots, but he managed it all pretty well. He was tracking pucks well and his reactions were good, but once again the issue fell more on the defensive breakdowns in front. The Rangers were allowed pretty quick and easy puck movement, and the skaters struggled to take away those passing and shooting lanes, and that made things much more difficult on Hart. It’s hard to be too fussed about his play, despite the results.
It’s the Cam York show, baby
To be clear, no, we’re never going to shut up about how good Cam York’s been. He’s continuing to settle in to an NHL role, and he even picked up his first NHL goal last night.
And on the more sentimental side, his celebration of that first goal was just so good. There has been just so much about this season that has been boring and bad, but seeing someone feeling that amount of joy, even more a moment, was just such a breath of fresh air. As we’ve been saying, we’ll take any bit of levity that we can at this point.
But back to the hockey. This is a team that’s pretty severely lacking in the confidence department, but York is certainly the exception to that right now. He’s moving the puck well in transition, and making clean, decisive passes in the offensive zone. His pairing with Travis Sanheim looked really strong last night, and they were doing well to drive offense for the team (York and Sanheim finished the night with adjusted 65.81 and 61.29 CF%s and 73.96 and 59.08 xGF%s, respectively). It’s not really clear how long they’ll be kept together, but this pair is tapping into something special so far.
And while York’s game isn’t perfect, still needs a bit of polishing, the positives have been so distinct, and at this point, we don’t really know how the team could justify pushing him out of the lineup when Ristolainen’s ready to return. The things that need polishing, he can do just as well up here. He’s made it clear that he’s an NHL player, and he should stay.
But elsewhere on defense...
The reason this pair of York and Sanheim was put together was because, after a rough start in Thursday’s game which saw Sanehim paired with Ivan Provorov, the two were split up and Provorov put back with Justin Braun to hopefully stabilize things a bit. The Flyers rolled with this pairing in last night’s game as well, and it went less than swimmingly. Both seemed to be fighting it a bit, not managing the puck spectacularly, and just in general having things look more difficult for them than they normally would or should. It wasn’t a very strong showing for them by the numbers either, as Braun and Provorov put up 29.59 and 35.31 xGF%s, respectively, the worst in the defense corps, and third and forth worst among skaters.
And none of this is really a surprise—Justin Braun is being pretty severely overused at this point, and Provorov has been a bit of a disaster for a while now, and might remain the case until Ellis returns. The hope is that he can turn things around a bit on his own, but things have just really not been going well here.
Can we get Morgan Frost a little help?
This is something of a minor quibble, but we’re here to quibble about it all the same—can we please get Morgan Frost some more skilled linemates? The Flyers shuffling him down to the fourth line a few games back wasn’t the worst idea—some of the consistency and details in his game had dropped off and they figured putting him with heavier playing, hard working players who would be able to win more puck battles and support him would help him out—but the experiment feels like it’s running its course. His line with Jackson Cates and Zack MacEwen got absolutely buried last night, putting up an adjusted 37.93 CF% and 14.59 xGF%. But even with that, we’re seeing his game coming back together, and he’s showing more jump, taking care of more details in puck battles and races, and he’s trying to create more offensively, but the drawback to putting him on a line with grinders is that they don’t really have to puck skills to support what he’s doing offensively, and that’s not really helping to rebuild his confidence. The equation’s changing here, and we can think of one player we’d like to see him get a look with.