In the handful of waking hours since the close of last night’s game, the little voice in my head has just been looping a pair of lines from You, Me, And Everyone We Know’s song “There Was A Thump, Then Another” (a deep cut for some, perhaps): “it isn’t pretty but it woooorks, no it’s not sharp but it still hurts.”
Such was the story of the Flyers’ 3-1 win over the Islanders to finally snap their losing skid. It started off on a weird note, with it taking exactly eight seconds for the first fight to break out (Zack MacEwen and Matt Martin), and then one literal second later, on the next faceoff, a second erupted (Nic DesLauriers and Ross Johnston). And while that certainly was a way to kick things off, we’re not certain that we would call it a proper tone setter, or brought a massive burst of energy to the game. What it did, though, was scramble the lines up a bit and cause a bit of a continuity hiccup (which felt more tone-setting, but we digress).
We’ve used this word already, but we’ll use it again: this game was a weird one. On the one hand, in the possession department, this one did wind up looking like a pretty commanding win for the Flyers. All told, they came out of this one with an edge in both the overall shot quantity and quality differentials, putting up an adjusted 56.03 CF% and 61.95 xGF%.
But on the other hand, it was still a game where the lack of dynamic talent in their lineup was apparent. The Flyers were doing some good things in this one—getting to the net, making some nice passes on the power play—but there often just seemed to be something missing. When it was looking like a good chance was opening up, a pass would be whiffed on, the support in the slot wouldn’t be in quite the right spot, or what should have been a prime shot was sailed wide or straight into the goalie’s pads. There was a gesture towards something interesting or productive, but they just didn’t have the personnel to bring it fully to fruition.
But, that said, this time around the looks they got were enough. Even if it wasn’t the most consistent of efforts in-game, and they weren’t immune to mistakes and landing themselves in slightly dodgy situations where things very easily could have gone sideways for them yet again, they still got some decent chances, and were able to hold on and lock things down when it mattered most.
So they were able to pull this one off, by the skin of their teeth (and with some very good goaltending from Carter Hart, stop us if you’ve heard this one before), and they’ve officially stopped the bleeding for now.
Bits and bobs
Don’t look now...
Last night was a two-goal game for Kevin Hayes, as he picked up both the game winning goal and the empty netter to seal the game, and don’t look now, but he’s quietly eclipsed the point per game mark.
It’s been a bit of a weird season for Hayes, as he’s seen the coach openly critical of his play on the whole, and himself shuffled down in the lineup in turn, but he’s having a quietly very productive start to the season, and found a nice bit of consistency on a team that’s severely lacking in it.
Scott Laughton’s back!
In other good news, after sustaining a shoulder injury in Montreal and missing about a week and a half, Laughton was able to get back into the lineup last night, and his impact was pretty immediately felt. He was able to get his legs going quickly, and the injection of speed he brought to the lineup was a real boost. We didn’t see him making his way onto the scoresheet, or bring a heap of individual offense (though he did put up two shots on goal and a high danger chance, so it wasn’t nothing), but his impacts elsewhere were still noticeable. He made a few nice, subtle plays of set up chance for his linemates—giving the team a much needed skill and offensive boost in a different way—and chipped in well on the defensive side as well, slotting back into his penalty kill role and doing a nice bit of breakout and time killing work with the puck. It wasn’t flashy, but it was a clear look at how much the team was missing him while he was out.
Zamula held steady
With Tony DeAngelo dealing with an injury, Egor Zamula was finally called upon to get back in the lineup for the Flyers, and all in all, it was quite a solid game for him. Though his ice time was somewhat limited (he was placed on the third pair and ended up with 13:54 of ice time in total), he held up well in that role. The Flyers held a comfortable territorial advantage while he was on the ice, as he came out of this one with an adjusted 60 CF% and 79.38 xGF%. He also had his big flashy moment, as a huge blocked shot right in the crease in the third period, after a turnover left them hemmed into their own end, helped them hold on to their lead (and what would be the win). It remains to be seen if he’ll stay in the lineup for the next few games, but as a player who jumped in when needed, he was able to hit the ground running nicely.
Speaking of the next few games, we should probably start preparing ourselves now. For a team in the midst of a ten-game losing streak, last night’s game against the Islanders wasn’t going to be an easy one, but this stretch coming up is really not going to be easy. The Flyers have a nice little homestead coming up, with the Lightning coming to town on Thursday, and then they’ve got the Devils, then the Avalanche, and Capitals again, before they hit the road and face off against the Golden Knights, Coyotes, Avalanche (again), and Devils (again). By and large, these are teams that have been having quite successful seasons, and feature much more skill up and down their lineups than the Flyers currently have at their disposal. So while we can bask in this win a bit longer, we should probably start steeling ourselves for what could potentially wind up being... shall we say... another unsuccessful stretch. But we’ll see how this plays out.