And we’re back! We are definitely back, but the Flyers... in body but perhaps not in spirit. After another tough game, another tough loss, the Flyers’ losing streak extended to eight games. Let’s recap. Because we are contractually obligated.
This one started off with a bit of promise, as the Flyers had two early power plays to work with, but that promise pretty quickly evaporated when the Flyers did, well, next to nothing with those chances. They had one nice look for Claude Giroux on the first chance, but mostly we saw them struggling on their entries, and struggling to even maintain possession of the puck. The Islanders had the better of the looks, shorthanded, in this one, and that was a problem.
The Islanders were allowed to pick up a bit of steam from there, and with the Flyers caught in the defensive zone, scrambling, the Islanders got a couple of nice looks and came quite close to breaking this game open, but Martin Jones bailed them out, ending the first period on a bit of a nervous note.
Flyers on that shift did a better job of checking their own teammates than they did checking the Islanders.— Charlie O'Connor (@charlieo_conn) January 18, 2022
The tables did turn for them, as the Islanders picked up their own first power play early in the second period, and saw the Flyers get the better of the play shorthanded, and very nearly capitalized on chances by Scott Laughton and Cam Atkinson, but Ilya Sorokin came up big to bail out the Islanders.
But if the Flyers were hoping to pick up some momentum from a successful penalty kill, well, that didn’t really work out for them. The Islanders came right back with a nice chance, capitalizing on a breakdown where Ristolainen broke his stick at the point, and they were able to start up a three on like one and a half rush, but once again found themselves stopped by Jones.
It was a sign of things to come, though, and the Islanders did get themselves on the board after, you guessed it, another penalty kill in which they got the better of the chances (what in the world was going on tonight?). They started up another rush just after the penalty expired, and with the puck bouncing off Provorov’s skate and him then being unable to either corral the puck or take away the body of the skater, and then Ristolainen both failing to block the shot while screening Jones, Brock Nelson ultimately got the, on the board.
Provorov can't handle the puck and Nelson uses Ristolainen as a screen to beat Jones. pic.twitter.com/MNl2GNy5Ex— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) January 18, 2022
Things continued to snowball from there, and with the Flyers again pinned in the defensive zone, a shot from the point by Robin Salo was able to make its way through traffic for Casey Cizikas to deflect, and it was a 2-0 game.
And after that we were hoping to just get to intermission without this getting any worse but the Flyers??? Got a lucky bounce??? The Flyers got their own chance on the rush, and a high pass across by Travis Konecny bounced right off Noah Dobson and in, for Konecny’s 100th career goal. Sure.
Travis Konecny's 100th NHL goal is an absolute snipe. pic.twitter.com/sJpKUXVqT7— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) January 18, 2022
The Flyers closed out the third period with a nice chance from Joel Farabee, and that was something, but they couldn’t find that equalizer.
And the third period recap:
UBS Arena absolutely BLASTING some Creed here in the third period. Feels like a sign. Not sure what of.— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 18, 2022
Just kidding, there’s more. Apparently it was a foreboding sign, and the Flyers fell into a deeper hole as, on a delayed penalty, Anthony Beauvillier cashed in on a breakdown in front and restored the Islanders’ two goal lead.
The third period, on the whole, proved to be a bit of a disaster for the Flyers. Their breakouts got even uglier, their struggles to make even short passes cleanly amplified, and the Islanders were able to sit back and play some easy defense to keep this one under control. The Flyers squandered chances on a late power play and with the goalie pulled for the extra attacker, and an empty net goal by Matt Martin completely sealed this one.
Two big things
We wouldn't really call this a particularly strong defensive game, but this was probably the defense corps at its most optimized since Ryan Ellis went back out with injury. With Ristolainen back, the Flyers eased him back in, playing on the third pair with Yandle, and then they started with Provorov-Sanheim and York-Braun. We did see those pairs shuffled a bit, and again, we didn’t really see these new pairs working out in a big way, but this personnel group was the best they’ve seen in a bit. The bar is pretty low, but it’s something. And here’s hoping that they can find a bit of stability with this group and start to work on building back up some chemistry and continuity.
A messy game all around
And building some on our point about the defense—this was not a particularly tidy game from the Flyers, but nor was it very tidy for the Islanders either. This was not a very fun one, and we can only imagine what tomorrow is going to look like, when we see these same two teams again, but just more tired now. It’s gonna be... something. See you then.