Ah, yeah, well, we’re all still here. The Flyers added Travis Konecny and Travis Sanheim to the COVID protocol list, Gerry Mayhew is out day-to-day with an upper body injury, and the Flyers are still playing games. Last night the big rivalry game against the Penguins was allowed to go on, and it went just about as well as we expected. The Flyers dropped this one 6-2, with goals from Cam Atkinson and Oskar Lindblom (thanks guys), and it was just really ugly, gang. We’re here to break it down but we’re also putting this one behind us as quickly as possible. Let’s get into it.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick.
Two big things
What’s to be made of this?
We’re starting this with a question for the group, and one that we don’t really have an easy answer for. The Flyers, icing close to half an AHL lineup last night got blown out of the water by a Penguins team that, it hurts us to say, is playing really good hockey right now. It would be easy to toss this whole game in the bin, chalk all of the badness and messiness up to missing a number of their best players to COVID protocols and injury, and move on to the next one. And we can do some of that, but somehow that feels like we’re missing part of the picture.
The Flyers didn't have all of their best offensive weapons available to them in this one, and that certainly hurt them, but they weren’t completely decimated, and this still felt like a particularly brutal offensive showing. The Flyers put up 20 shots in total across the whole of the game. And Tristan Jarry made some really remarkable saves, but it wasn’t like the Flyers were just getting goalied—their expected results of 2.06 xG across all situations pretty well matched their actual results. They just didn’t have it in this one.
And contributing as well to that is well... let’s hit our next point.
Mike Yeo’s frustration after this one was pretty evident, and he talked a lot about the team’s energy and compete level after this one, and we’re going to hand the mic over to him for a second.
On the frustration the team was dealing with and how to channel that into something more positive, he had this to say:
There’s an element of toughness on the ice. You battle your courage and you show up and you compete and you battle and you play physical. But there’s another form of toughness and that’s mental toughness and that’s not feeling sorry for yourself but getting frustration getting the best of you. That’s not letting a bad bounce or something that didn’t work out well determine your fate. Things happen… bad things happen. What are you gonna do? So you’re going to have to make sure to respond to that.
And he sort of continued the thought when asked if the team ran out of gas as they went on:
I don’t to be honest with you. They played last night so I don’t think it is a matter of energy. I think it’s sort of the way you prepare for a game. I believe the more prepared fight, the more prepared you are to give. The more able you are to keep fighting and to keep going through the game and I just didn’t think we had that tonight. Whether it was because we looked at our lineups and didn’t think we had enough, I’m not sure.
And while there’s some understanding that they really had their work cut out for them in this one, with how shorthanded they were, this was still a pretty direct callout of the team’s compete level and resiliency. And we understand where this is coming from, because this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this team get frustrated when things aren't breaking their way. This was worse, but it’s not new.
Now, you can come away from this with your own feelings, like we mentioned in our last section, if you want to write this one off as a product of a hugely depleted lineup, that’s an easy thing to do. But the coach clearly wasn't happy with this effort, and that’s something to take note of.
Bits and bobs
Carter Hart didn’t have a great night (but we’re not too worried about it)
It’s easy to look at a blowout like this one and just blame the goaltender, and while that wasn't totally the case in this one (the defense as a whole left a good bit to be desired), it does remain that Hart didn’t have his absolute best showing in this one. All told, he stopped 26 of the 32 shots he faced on the evening for an .813 save percentage (those six goals against also pretty well exceeded the 2.84 Expected Goals he faced). He got a little lucky in this one and came up with some nice saves, but overall he looked a little bit off, and that led to some pretty scrambly sequences. If nothing else, this one was an adventure.
The good news, perhaps, is that we didn’t see him showing that concerning level of visible frustration after the game, so the hope is that he can rebound well from this one as we’ve seen him do well in the past. So there’s that.
Egor Zamula debuts
The Flyers’ injury and illness situation is not good and this game was not good, but hey, we’re still getting to see some of the kids, which is fun, right? Anyway, Zamula has been playing well with the Phantoms of late, and he got the call up to make his season debut with Travis Sanheim out, and his game was... okay. He did lead the team in CF%, with an adjusted 58.46 CF% at 5-on-5, and made a few nice plays, but we also saw some of the risk in his game, as there was one really ugly giveaway that led to a goal against. He still needs to add some weight and strength, and that was made pretty clear last night. But hey, there’s still good upside there, and the experience he’s getting is useful. We’ll take any silver linings here.
Cam York stands out again
It wasn’t a perfect game for York in this one, and he didn’t look quite as active as he did in his own debut, but he still had a solid game. And we want to hit on one smaller detail that stood out in his game last night.
There are times when, if you watch York in the defensive zone, he looks like he’s just sort of drifting around out there, and that has opened up some critiques of his game, in some circles at least. And we did see some of that drifting-type motion from him last night, but what really stood out in it was that he still always ended up in the right spot to make the right defensive play. It’s something that popped in his game at the college level, how easy his movement looked and how well he was able to anticipate plays, and seeing it translating now at the NHL level speaks to just how well he processes the game. It’s a smaller note in the scheme of this whole game, but it’s neat, all the same.
Joel Farabee’s frustration
Okay, now quickly on to something of an elephant in the room.
After whiffing on a shot on the power play, Farabee went down the tunnel and promptly smashed his stick, something that the broadcast was able to catch. And this frustration is certainly understandable, and maybe we don’t hate it? Visible frustration can be tricky, because if it’s bubbling over too often, that becomes a problem, but also... hey, at least someone isn’t totally checked out here.
On to the next!
Right now, the Flyers are set to play the Sharks on Saturday, and we’re going to add a disclaimer here that it stands to reason that, if the Flyers have any more players go into protocol between now and then, the certainty of that game happening starts to waver. So we’ll see what happens there.
But assuming they do play, it will still be shorthanded, and the Flyers will have a big opportunity in that game. Because just as much as Yeo emphasized that he didn’t like the team’s effort last night, he noted that they have a chance in front of them to respond in the right way and get back on track. That’s their coach challenging them pretty directly, and we’ll have to see how that one pans out.