Well, the Flyers really are back, huh? After a nice little break for All Star Weekend, the Flyers were back in action last night against the Red Wings, and it went, well, it went just about as well as we might have expected, with how things have gone this season. The Flyers hit the break with two wins in a row and a nice bit of momentum, and they pretty quickly lit that all on fire in this one. They showed some resilience and opportunism, scoring three times immediately after getting scored on, but the Red Wings had them outmatched right from the get go. It was a sloppy effort, and one that they ultimately lost 6-3. And we’re back to square one, as it were.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick.
Two big things
The Flyers really didn’t have it...
As we alluded to in our intro, this was just not a good game for the Flyers, full stop. They were dealing with hideous defensive breakdowns. They were struggling to make it through the neutral zone cleanly. They were overhanding the puck and getting very little in terms of offensive pressure. They were struggling right out of the gates and things just seemed to get worse as the game went on. The Flyers put up just 24 shots on goal in total across the whole of the night (and just 1.9 Expected Goals, well below their actual production). They had just five shots in the third period, and it took them until past the 16 minute mark to register their second of the period. In a lot of ways, it feels like a small miracle that this game was as close as it was for as long as it was.
And this whole mess, the wide range of issues, is something that Mike Yeo spoke on after the game as well:
It’s not like one part of our game broke us down tonight. You start with one on one battles, lose puck races, you can move it into execution, you can move it into a bit of a structure, the detail of our game, I mean you can pinpoint a lot of things. Didn’t seem like we really had anybody that could keep swinging the momentum. Maybe we would have one good shift and then we followed up with a bad shift. Again we’ll get to work here in these next couple days. We’ve tried to start to establish what our standards are in certain areas, and tonight we didn’t meet a lot of those standards.
It was a tough showing in a lot of ways, maybe that goes without saying. The Flyers really seemed to be picking up a bit of steam before the break, and even if they weren't perfect, that was something, but now they’ve all but negated all of that.
...and now response is everything
Before the break, Yeo made a point of saying that while they weren’t all the way to where they needed to be, that he felt that the team was trending in the right direction and some of the good habits that they had been working on were starting to sink in. And last night, well, those obviously weren’t really clicking for them, that much was painfully obvious.
But the Flyers do have a nice opportunity here. They have two days between games, and on Saturday they’ll get this exact same Red Wings squad again. They have a chance to regroup, refocus, and go forward and respond the right way. Saturday will be a real litmus test of a game, will tell us a lot about what this team is right now, how much their past work has sunk in, and how much more they’ll have to do in the future.
But, you know, no pressure or anything.
Bits and bobs
Power play snag
Pretty emblematic of the team’s overall play last night was one moment in the third period wherein the Flyers had a power play and went to make a change, but had one guy miss his assignment (Gerry Mayhew, hello) and fail to jump on the ice, leaving them at 4-on-4 for close to 30 seconds. It’s, frankly, a pretty embarrassing showing there, and really the icing on the cake.
Because the power play was a bit of a disaster last night. They had just over nine minutes of power play time to work with, and they registered just seven shots on goal and one high danger chance in that time. They couldn’t seem to make a clean entry, and when they did get into the zone, they were overpassing or failing to connect. They just never really looked threatening.
Where in the world is Cam York?
We’re nitpicking here probably, but this one is worth asking. As we watched the power play flounder last night, and the defense struggle to make even what should have been a simple breakout, we couldn’t help but think “man, Cam York really would be able to help with this.” He was sent down before the All Star break so he could get some more game with the Phantoms in, which made sense, but him still being there and both Nick Seeler and Kevin Connauton ostensibly remaining ahead of him on the depth chart does not. We’re not saying that he would be an immediate fix for the defense, but if the Flyers are looking to give it a boost for Saturday’s game, making room for York would be a great place to start.
Brassard is back
The Flyers are still very beat up, but hey, they did get one player back for last night. Derick Brassard was able to get back into the lineup for the first time since January 6, and it was... a bit of a work in progress. He definitely looked like he was working on getting his timing back, and there were times when he did look a little slow, like he was chasing play. And that’s all pretty understandable for a player coming back from missing a month with a lower body injury, but it’s something we’ll be keeping an eye on. If he’s able to work his way back at least to close to his form from the start of the season, that would be a huge boost for the team. And if not, well, maybe then you start thinking about getting Morgan Frost back up and into the top-9 to slide into his spot. But hey, one step at a time.
Congrats to Isaac Ratcliffe!
We’ll end this one on a positive note, though. There was a whole lot of weirdness in this one, including the fact that, while it looked like Zack MacEwen had picked up the Flyers’ first goal of the night, but upon further inspection, it actually went in off of Ratcliffe’s pants.
Isaac Ratcliffe may end up getting credit for the goal as it appeared to deflect in off of his leg. It would be Ratcliffe's first NHL goal (and point). pic.twitter.com/o6UW0sFMDy— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) February 10, 2022
The goal was officially awarded to him by the first intermission, and all was right in the world.
It was definitely a weird one, and he joked after the game that out of all of the times he imagined his first NHL goal growing up, he never imagined it going off his pants and in, it was still quite the accomplishment and a nice moment overall. He’s certainly continuing to make the most of his time up with the big club.