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What we learned from the Flyers 3-1 loss to the Stars

Some observations for your morning...

Dallas Stars v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Kicking off the week on a not very high note! The Flyers had something of a rare Monday night game, still greatly depleted in their lineup, playing a defenseman at forward, putting a struggling offense against a Stars team that loves to stifle offense, and it went just about as well as you might have predicted. The Flyers put just one puck in the net, and it came from a centering pass that deflected straight in off of John Klingberg’s skate. It ended as a 3-1 loss, and that, for those keeping track at home, makes for 12 in a row.

All stats via Natural Stat Trick.

Vibe check

One of the bigger topics of discussion around the team of late has been their energy, as the swings from game to game have been pretty wild, and the team has fallen into streaks of looking pretty flat. And last night’s game was a bit of a weird one—the team was skating pretty well and getting their checks in, but we didn’t exactly see that translating into offense. And Mike Yeo bristled a bit when asked after the game if he felt that the team lacked energy in this one:

We did not lack energy in this game. That’s one thing we didn’t lack. Maybe some execution at times, but to keep Benn, Seguin, all those guys for 57 minutes to one goal, that’s one thing we didn’t lack. Guys were blocking shots. We were hitting. We were physical. I think that the last thing that I want to do is sit here and say that it’s okay that we lost a hockey game. That’s for sure. None of us can accept this. But there is a certain reality to it and we’ve got eight guys out of the lineup. Obviously we’re feeling the effects of that. Guys like G are forced to take on heavier matchups. We’re asking young kids to come in and play in hard matchups and normally young kids would come in and play with vets. Right now they don’t have that opportunity, so we’re asking an awful lot of everybody. But one thing we didn’t lack tonight was energy. The work ethic was there. Again, maybe we didn’t create enough offense, but guys battled hard.

And at the risk of flying too close to the sun (or a “nice guy, tries hard, loves the game” joke) here, we understand that Yeo is trying to find positives wherever he can, and we’re sympathetic to the fact that the Flyers are working with far from an optimized lineup right now. We’re taking all of that and using it as a massive asterisk to this statement. But, all that said, the point does remain that if they want to stop this bleeding, the execution is going to have to come along eventually.

By the numbers

But circling back to a point from above, the Flyers may have put in some decent work in the energy department, but they didn’t have a whole lot to show for it. The Flyers put up just 26 shots on goal and 10 high danger chances at 5-on-5 (and there were no penalties called in this one, we should remind you, so it was just about all 5-on-5 last night). The total isn’t stellar, and even worse is that those chances seemed to come in bunches, wherein the Flyers would put up a nice little surge, but then go pretty quiet for a stretch. There wasn’t a whole lot of consistency in their tangible offensive pressure.

And the Stars certainly got the better of play last night. The Flyers came out of this one with just an adjusted 42.16 CF% and 45.73 xGF% at 5-on-5. The Flyers got a little lucky in this one, the bounces weren’t really going the Stars’ way, and what’s more, Carter Hart didn’t give them a ton to work with, so this one didn’t get too out of hand on the scoresheet, but their offense still wasn't clicking well enough to pull them out of a one-goal hole. So it goes.

Carter Hart appreciation post

As we move deeper and deeper into this extremely cursed season, we just continue to feel worse for Carter Hart. He hasn’t been without his showings where he looks human out there, to be sure, but man, he really is giving it his everything, still. And things are still this bad.

Last night was really no exception to that. He had a reasonable workload in this one, with 35 shots faced, including 10 high danger shots, and he did well with that workload. All told, he stopped all but two of those, and once again, it’s hard to pin those goals solely on him. The first goal saw Hintz beat him clean, but the turnover and the breakaway leading up to that never should have happene, and on the second, the shot did also beat him, but the scramble in front was ugly, as was the screenage, and ideally we could have liked to have seen someone settle things down and take away that shot chance.

He’s in a tough spot right now—the Flyers’ offense is pretty anemic, and if they want to stand a chance at winning a game, he would have to be absolutely perfect and pitch shutouts in every game, despite how often the skaters are breaking down in front of him. He’s really giving it his best shot, but that’s far from a reasonable ask.

The third line does some work

If there was one positive to take from this game, though, it would be the play of Morgan Frost’s line with Max Willman and Gerry Mayhew. There’s a joke to be made here about how this also would have been a very good line with the Phantoms at the start of the season, and now they’re here, but we’ll leave that alone. They’re here and they did very well last night.

The eye tells us that this was the line with the most jump and who put up the most offensive pressure, and the numbers back this up. They were the only line that we can point to and say that they won their matchup, and did so pretty comfortably—they put up an adjusted 54.69 CF% and 58.94 xGF%. They were buzzing for much of the night, and getting a lot of traffic and very close chances in front of the net, but they just could not seem to get one single bounce. But they were certainly the Flyers’ most dangerous line, and that’s worth something.

And while we appreciate the work of the line as a whole, it is worth pointing out that this was a really strong night for Frost individually as well. In short, this was the best we’ve seen him play since his call-up. His game’s really coming together again at this level, and while there are not a lot of positives to be found in the season right now, if we can see him settling in to an NHL role, that would definitely qualify.

The streak lives on

Well, they did it, folks. The Flyers hit a dozen losses in a row and tied a franchise record for the longest winless streak, a record that they could break tonight if they don’t take care of business against the Islanders. And if we’re honest, the optimism for them pulling it together isn’t exactly at an all time high. Even if they haven’t been sustaining their improvements, they have been making some sporadic steps in the right direction, but frustration is very clearly sinking in now. It feels like what they need right now is a few bounces going their way to help them break out of this slump, but if last night and the Frost line not being able to break through one a single one of their chances or bits of traffic in front of the net made anything clear, it’s that they just are not getting more than one bounce in their favor on any given night. So, uh, yay? See you tonight.