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Sabres 6, Flyers 3: The streak hits eleven in Buffalo

Enjoy your Saturday night, folks.

NHL: Philadelphia Flyers at Buffalo Sabres Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Flyers lost an afternoon game in Buffalo to a fellow bottom-feeding Sabres team by three goals, thanks to multi-goal performances from Tage Thompson and Peyton Krebs and the worst Martin Jones performance of the year.

I’m not really one to try and psychoanalyze athletes based on their performance—to me it’s all guesswork that doesn’t really get you anywhere anyway. But it does seem to me like these Philadelphia Flyers seem to catastrophize once a few things go wrong, possibly evidenced today, when a 2-1 lead was erased and then turned around in quick succession by a power play goal, a failed challenge leading to another penalty, and another power play goal. Things basically got out of hand from there. The Sabres would score another in the first period, a fifth goal in the second, and the Flyers never really made it competitive again.

It all culminated in the Flyers’ 11th consecutive loss and the sinking feeling that they may never win a game again. This is just the fourth time in franchise history that they’ve lost more than 10 in a row, and the first time since 1999. Once this game got out of hand, the Flyers were never able to recover, and they’re at the point in the season where that same thing is playing out in the macro—the losing streak and the season along with it have all but gotten out of hand and it doesn’t seem like they’ll be able to do anything to recover.

First period

The first period had barely begun before a loose puck behind the Flyers net was scooped up by Alex Tuch amongst defenders and a Morgan Frost-less stick and sent to a wide open Jeff Skinner in front of the net, who scored his 15th of the season on Martin Jones.

The Flyers then put some pressure on Buffalo goaltender Michael Hauser, outshooting the Sabres 8-2 by the ten-minute mark, eventually leading to two quick goals in the second half—one a revenge goal from eight-year Sabre Rasmus Ristolainen that squeaked through, the other a textbook deflection from Claude Giroux off an Ivan Provorov floater from the point.

Zack MacEwen took a hooking penalty and, on the ensuing power play, the Sabres would score, with Tage Thompson picking up a flubbed Tuch shot and firing it into the net. Mike Yeo challenged the goal, as it appeared Buffalo may have entered the zone offsides and—even though the three-plus-minute video review from home seemed to confirm Yeo’s suspicions—the goal would stand.

The delay of game penalty incurred by the Flyers from the incorrect challenge would then lead to another Tage Thompson man-advantage goal, around 30 seconds in game-time after the first.

And the snowballing feeling of the game escaping would continue just two minutes later with a deflection off the rush from rookie Peyton Krebs, the first of his career.

And the snowballing feeling of the game escaping would continue just two minutes later with a deflection off the rush from rookie Peyton Krebs, the first of his career.

Second period

The second period would start almost immediately with a Flyers’ power play, as Krebs tripped up Cam Atkinson 15 seconds in off an offensive zone faceoff. Predictably, the power play never really got set up and Rasmus Asplund’s clear at the end of the penalty found Krebs coming out of the box, who deked to his backhand and finished glove-side on Hart to net his second career goal.

Some pot-stirring from noted pot-stirrer Travis Konecny led to two minutes in the box for Rasmus Dahlin, and the Flyers looked determined to score during those two minutes, with Konecny even ringing one off the post that would slide along the goal line without crossing it, but ultimately Dahlin would serve his entire sentence and return to the ice without any harm done on the scoreboard.

A second Flyers power play came with four minutes left after John Hayden tripped Cam York in front of the Flyers’ net, and again the Flyers actually set things up and put some pucks on net, but again came up blank.

A Zack MacEwen hook was negated by a Jeff Skinner embellishment, leading to some 4-on-4 hockey and shortly an Ivan Provorov break to the net drew a penalty on Krebs, putting the Flyers up a man to end the period.

The Flyers—having spent a large portion of the period with an extra player—outshot the Sabres 10-6 in the second, but were outshot 6-3 at even strength.

Third period

The Flyers set things up with plenty of room to work on the 4-on-3, with the best chances coming on a Konecny shot off a block and multiple rebound attempts for James van Riemsdyk, but he couldn’t find twine and the Flyers returned to full strength still down by three.

A high stick from Gerry Mayhew put the Sabres back up a man for the first time since the first period, and it wasn’t long before Jeff Skinner was partying in the USA yet again, roping a one-timer low past Hart for his 16th on the season and second of the game.

The Flyers would cut the lead in half with another Giroux deflection, this time off a Konecny shot, but it was too little too late, coming with just five minutes left in the third.

Stray stats:

  • With this game, Claude Giroux has now played more games as the Flyers’ captain than anyone in history with 696. He passed Bobby Clarke, who played 542 games as captain before he was named an assistant coach/player in 1979 and ceded his captaincy to Mel Bridgeman. He would then reassume the role in 1982 and play an additional 153 games as captain, for a total of 695. Giroux has now spent more seasons, more games, and more actual time as the Flyers’ captain than anyone else.
  • Flyers are now 97-66-20-7 (W-L-T-OTL) against Buffalo and 39-44-8-2 in Buffalo. They won’t play Buffalo again until a mid-April home-and-home. It’ll be interesting to see how the rosters of these two teams change between now and then.
  • This was Martin Jones’ first time pulled this season in his 15 starts, after getting the hook 8 times in 34 starts last season with the Sharks. Jones allowed 4 goals on 8 shots in 18 minutes.
  • Today’s game was the third game this season featuring both a players’ first career goal and second career goal, with Krebs’ pair coming in his 20th career game and 7th for Buffalo, having come as a piece of the package that pried Jack Eichel away. Sharks forward Jonathan Dahlén scored his first two in a game on October 19, 2021 against the Canadiens and Coyotes defenseman Janis Moser scored his first two on December 28, 2021 against the Sharks.
  • This was the Sabres highest scoring game of the season. Cool.

Stray observations:

  • While it was mostly inconspicuous, Wade Allison’s season debut did bring some of the same energy that we saw in his 14 games last season. He made a few hard drives to the net and was active on the second power play unit, but left the bench at some point in the third period with a lower-body injury and did not return. The 24-year-old has battled quite a few injuries up to this point in his career and we hope this is only a minor setback and he can get back out on the ice soon and be that same guy that got us all excited after last year.
  • The most merciful part of this game was the afternoon start time, because there’s still plenty of time left in the day. If you were not contractually obligated to watch the entire thing and you did anyway, I urge you to, you know, do something else so that the main thing you do today wasn’t, you know, this.
  • Are Wings’ games fun? I haven’t been to the Wells Fargo Center yet this year to see the Flyers, mostly because of that pesky pandemic and because I wake up pretty early for my day job, but they ran a lot of commercials for the Wings today, including one where you can bring your dog. I don’t have a dog, but maybe I can meet some nice dogs.
  • Is this now in contention for the worst Flyers season of all time? Some of the early ones were bad, but that’s to be expected, and they technically made the playoffs in some of them. They finished 30th in the league in 2006-07, but they did not have multiple double-digit winless streaks like this. Statistically, they’re not quite there yet, but I think it’s a possibility.
  • That’s it. Seriously, go outside, it’s not even four o’clock yet.