It was a matinee game on the road against the second best team in the Pacific Division, and not only were the LA Kings celebrating 1000 games played for Alexander Edler, but they were wearing their beautiful purple and yellow reverse retro jerseys. Everything about this game seemed to spell that the Flyers would end 2022 the way the majority of their games had gone: poorly. Yet, instead, the Flyers managed to pick up a pretty convincing win. Hockey, what a weird sport.
In the early going of the game, the battle seemed to be the Flyers versus gravity. At one point Tony DeAngelo wiped out completely of his own accord, and then only about 15 seconds later, Wade Allison crashed into Kevin Hayes in almost the same spot on the ice. Granted, it was a 1:00 pm start for the Flyers over in LA, so they were probably still waking up.
Then the Flyers seemed to have the great idea of “What would happen if the Kings started falling over, too?” It resulted in two tripping penalties only 8 seconds apart: one for Cam York against Kevin Fiala and one for Travis Konecny against Alex Iafallo.
Unlike the Flyers, the Kings are actually pretty good on the power play with a 23.4% success rate, placing them at 13th best in the NHL. Put that against the 23rd ranked penalty kill in the league combined with a 5-on-3, and the Kings were almost destined to score. Adrian Kempe got the goal.
Right as the second penalty was dying out, the Kings got called for interference, giving the Flyers’ 31st ranked power play a chance to score. Now, the Kings have an even worse penalty kill than the Flyers, ranked at 28th in the league. That was exactly what the Flyers needed, because Scott Laughton earned the Flyers an actual power play goal! Can the team keep those vibes going into 2023? This sentient blogger would like that.
The tied score didn’t last for long as Phillip Danault sniped it cleanly past Samuel Ersson. That goal gave Danault a seven-game point streak, so it probably should’ve been expected that he’d get on the board at some point. (Also, Kings social admin, this is a very confusing Tweet copy for a game against a Philly sports team. Just saying.)
The Flyers were lucky that the first period ended only being down a goal. The last four minutes of the period were spent on the penalty kill after Joel Farabee and Nick Seeler took back-to-back penalties. Farabee did have a shorthanded chance during the second penalty kill, but it didn’t get past Johnathan Quick. Missing that opportunity was sad, because the Flyers’ success at scoring shorthanded is another thing that deserves to carry over into 2023.
After a bit of a sluggish start in the second period — including a failed Flyers power play — Owen Tippett scored a beauty of a goal. He was able to deke the puck around the Kings and rip off a nice wrister. Tippett goals absolutely belong on the list of things this sentient blogger wants to see continue in 2023.
Noah Cates definitely heard what I wrote earlier about wanting to see more shorthanded goals in 2023, because when the Flyers went on the penalty kill for the fifth time this game, he broke off into the attacking zone, seemed to deliberate about whether he was going to pass the puck, but then made the smart decision to just snap it from near the blue line and past Quick. It broke a 20-game goal drought for him, too. Good for him!
At the end of the game, the Kings pulled Quick for the extra attacker, but that strategy didn’t turn out well for them as Konecny scored the empty net goal. More things that should continue in 2023: Konecny goals. Even if the Flyers do realize they need to rebuild, a team can’t jettison every player. Having players to build around is necessary. Konency is proving to be a player to build around.
The Flyers actually managed to pull off a win to end the year. I’m honestly surprised. As I said at the start, this game had all the necessary pieces to spell a loss, but the Flyers ignored all of that and just went out and played a solid game.
As I’ve been talking about throughout this recap, here are some more things this sentient blogger would like to see carry on into 2023.
- More points for Morgan Frost. I will fully admit that I’m a bit of a Frost apologist, but if he continues to improve his play for the rest of the season, then we’ll either get another young player we can form a rebuild around or he could play well enough to earn the Flyers some picks in a trade when the team inevitably starts selling at the deadline.
- More of whatever drama is going on between Kevin Hayes and John Tortorella. Look, if the team’s gonna suck, at least give me things that make me wanna break out the popcorn. Keep me entertained! The quotes between these two have been like watching a trashy reality drama, and I’m personally here for it.
What about things I’d like to leave behind in 2023?
- Overtime. Either win the game or lose it. We don’t need these games to go much longer than they already do. Plus, if you are on team tank, loser points do not help the tank. No, being the worst team in the league does not guarantee the best pick, but it increases the odds of getting a good player in the draft.
- Chuck Fletcher’s tenure as general manager. I don’t believe this is going to happen until the offseason, but it’s obvious that this organization needs an overhaul. At least getting rid of the man whose voice is loudest in proclaiming this team doesn’t need a rebuild would be a start!
There’s one thing, however, that I’m not sure whether I want to leave it behind in 2022 or continue it into 2023: winning games. On the one hand, rebuilding teams need to do poorly to collect better draft picks. Again, management may be in denial about the need to rebuild, but the Flyers need it. On the other hand, it’s not fun watching teams lose! It’s especially abysmal to commit to such a plan when the team hasn’t been good for the past few seasons as it is. At the end of the day, I want to have fun watching hockey. What I want for 2023 is a Flyers team that can be fun again. Maybe there’s a way to blend that with doing the necessary losing, but right now, the Flyers haven’t found that right mix.