For those who were preoccupied with more important things (such as a certain baseball game), you might not know that a hockey game was played tonight by the Philadelphia Flyers. It’s true! Even better, the Orange & Black posted a win in one of the toughest road environments in the NHL. How did this happen? Let’s break it down.
What went right?
The Flyers looked slow and ineffective early, something that could be expected if you looked at the starting lineups for both of these teams. Nashville on paper is a playoff roster, and the Preds controlled pace like a team of their caliber should against an injured Philly squad.
None of that mattered, because the game is about scoring more goals than the other team. Kevin Hayes started things off right with a tally off of a beauty of a pass by Joel Farabee.
HOLLYWOOOOOOOD. #PHIvsNSH | #FueledByPhilly pic.twitter.com/pQA10Jkd7k— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) October 23, 2022
The opportunism didn’t stop there. A scramble in front after a juicy Saros rebound gave Zack McEwen his first of the year on a slam dunk. Despite sustaining a pummeling, the Flyers led 2-0 at the first intermission.
Back for more as the second period gets underway in Nashville. #PHIvsNSH | #FueledByPhilly pic.twitter.com/u2htY8hZZF— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) October 23, 2022
What was honestly unexpected was how dominant Philadelphia looked the rest of the way. The Predators, no doubt sapped by the loss of a teammate (more on that later, unfortunately), were slow and sloppy, unable to complete simple breakout passes or work the puck anywhere besides the perimeter.
The Flyers took control of the possession battle from the start of the second period and never looked back. Especially notable was a long offensive zone possession where Tony DeAngelo made a few nice plays at the point with a series of head fakes and spin moves to keep things alive. Philly throttled the Predators for almost two full minutes of play before Nashville finally cleared the zone.
Joel Farabee wrapped things up in the third period with a nifty wrister that tickled the twine from distance. The young forward had a point on every goal scored. Is that good? Seems good.
PHILLY JOEL. #PHIvsNSH | #FueledByPhilly pic.twitter.com/5V0b7MCa9L— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) October 23, 2022
Despite a late power play goal for Nashville, Carter Hart still posted a sparkling stat line that accurately reflected an outstanding night between the pipes. No. 79 looked as locked in as we’ve seen him since the playoff bubble in 2020. That either makes you smile or sticks in your craw depending on how you feel about the Flyers trying to compete for a playoff spot this year.
What went wrong?
Outside of the rough first period (rough being relative, a 2-0 lead is a 2-0 lead), not many complaints. The Flyers still have yet to look like anything resembling a playoff team, but this was about as close as they’ve gotten. Nashville is playing uninspired hockey and they punished them for it.
9⃣5⃣ threads the puck through Hart for his second goal of the season!#Smashville pic.twitter.com/Xu8IHNshTu— Bally Sports: Preds (@PredsOnBally) October 23, 2022
Philadelphia’s power play still needs some work after going ofer again, and you’re not stoked about JVR taking a penalty late in the game to give Nashville life, but given what this team has to work with they’ve got to be happy with the early returns.
On a separate, more somber note, Mark Borowiecki suffered a serious injury on an accidental collision with Morgan Frost. This hit was a horrifying reminder of how dangerous the NHL can be, and with Borowiecki’s scary concussion history my heart was in my throat watching the play unfold. He was stretchered off of the ice and showed movement. The Flyers came off of the bench to show support.
Hoping Mark Borowiecki is OK.— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) October 23, 2022
The Predators' defenseman was stretchered off the ice after a hit along the back boards. pic.twitter.com/RU5cgCCuo9
When Mark Borowiecki left Bridgestone Arena he was conscious and had movement in all of his extremities. He has been transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for further testing and observation. We will share more details on his condition as they become available.— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) October 23, 2022
Keep him in your thoughts tonight.
Three Big Things
- Joel Farabee picked up the pace after a quiet beginning to the year. Look for him to keep improving as he gets back up to speed after a lengthy recovery from injury.
- The forecheck looks strong, and that’s especially impressive given who the forwards faced on breakout prevention. Fighting Roman Josi, Alexandre Carrier and Dante Fabbro and winning is no small task, even if Josi has looked surprisingly human this season. Hard forechecking supports opportunism, and if this team wants to make the postseason that will need to be their MO.
- Carter Hart is standing on his head to start this year. Even with the improved structure under Tortorella, there were plenty of chances for Nashville. None of it mattered because Hart was on his game. If he can keep this up, we’re looking at the emergence of a star in net for the Flyers for the first time since Ron Hextall’s breakout. Will he sustain this success? Uncertain.
Post Game Tunes
This city is currently on its best run in professional sports since... probably before I was born. Savor it. Said.
Good night, good hockey, and as always, go Flyers.