For those keeping track at home, last night’s 5-2 loss to the Calgary Flames means that the Flyers’ losing streak hit seven games, and things aren’t really showing massive signs of turning around anytime soon.
This was, in short, not a very good game for them, on the whole. We saw a couple of ugly breakdowns, some of which ended in the puck in the back of the Flyers’ net. Their passing didn’t look very smooth. They really looked to be struggling on their breakouts in particular—clean exits were relatively few and far between, and the Flyers’ breakout passes looked less like they were targeting a particular teammate or area, and more like they were flinging the puck anywhere out and away from themselves. They didn’t really have an answer for the Flames’ counter rush, and were left trying to just survive their pushes. If it was tidiness and cohesion that you were looking for in this one, you would have to look elsewhere.
Now, we won't sit here and pretend like it’s all doom and gloom, there were still some positives from this game. Joel Farabee’s goal was legitimately very good. The team did some unflashy but very solid penalty killing, just eating up time getting the puck tied up along the boards.
And, credit to them, they didn’t pack it in when it started to look like things were probably not going to their way. They kept the energy up well enough, and they were at least trying to make some plays.
And that’s the real key here—trying. The Flyers didn’t lose last night for lack of effort. They got burned by a few big mistakes, but the thing keeping them from making a real comeback was simply that they don’t have the skill in the lineup right now to actually pull off the plays that they’re trying or want to make. There’s space for actual improvement, to be sure, for the players left to settle in a bit more and build up a bit more comfort with their linemates, but that real dynamic punch is going to be lacking until they get healthier. That’s just the reality of the situation at the moment. It’s hard to be too upset with the team for struggling when this is truly just about the best they can manage.
Bits and bobs
Good for Tanner Laczynski
There’s a lot that’s not great about this season already, and it’s getting more and more difficult to find the sort of feel good stories to highlight, but we did have one nicely delivered to us last night. It’s been, to say the least, an up and down season for Tanner Laczynski. He was in and out of the Flyers’ lineup at the start of the season, missed a bit of time (but it was for the birth of his child!), and then saw himself shuffled out of the lineup entirely and assigned to the Phantoms. But now he’s back, and he’s certainly making the most of that opportunity.
He picked up his first NHL goal to get the Flyers on the board in somewhat strange fashion—in his mind, he probably wouldn’t have drawn up deflecting a surprise Kevin Hayes spin-o-rama shot from the point—but it was a good goal all the same. It’s a shame when a first NHL goal happens in the seventh game of a losing streak, it can get a bit lost in the shuffle, but it was a well deserved moment for Laczynski. He’s worked a lot to get to this point, and he put together quite a solid showing in his return to the NHL, and it’s hard not to appreciate him getting rewarded.
Let’s check in with Carter Hart
The Flyers were, technically, hanging around for a lot of this game, and once again, that was due to Hart’s efforts. It wasn’t his biggest showing—he made 24 saves on 27 shots for a .889 save percentage—but he was still pretty solid overall.
Pretty might be the operative word here, though, because this also certainly wasn’t a perfect showing. There was a bit of scrambling, a couple of misreads, and a slight slowness in some reads elsewhere. And in some ways, this wasn’t unexpected. Last night was, after all, his fourth straight start, and his eighth start in the Flyers’ 11 games played in the month of November. Hart’s had a heavy workload this month, and it’s starting to look like it’s wearing on him.
And the team is in a tough spot here—they’re trying to snap a losing streak, and their best shot at doing that almost certainly includes a big effort from Hart, but it’s also not even Thanksgiving, and do they really want to be running their very good starting goalie into the ground so early in the season? We’ll see where things go from here, how Hart’s workload is managed, because it’s certainly going to be interesting.
Updates coming soon
And, before we go, we’ve got a bit of housekeeping to touch on. Last night, all of Allison, Atkinson, Couturier, Konecny, Laughton, and van Riemsdyk were evaluated by the team doctor to see where they’re at in their recoveries. We don’t have an update just yet, but there should be something coming a bit later today. It remains to be seen if any of these injuries are or will remain longer term—and, by extension, how long we’ll be stuck with the absolute shell of an NHL lineup we saw last night—but some clarity offered on these players’ situations will be appreciated (particularly someone like Atkinson, who feels like has been floating in limbo, status wise). We’ll see what we can glean and go from there.