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What we learned from the Flyers 5-4 overtime loss to the Penguins

Some observations for your morning...

NHL: FEB 15 Flyers at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

If nothing else, in the grand scheme of things, this game was predictable. The Flyers went into Pittsburgh to square off against their arch rivals, with Sidney Crosby sitting at 499 career goals, and you know they gave that up for him within the first period (and nearly did it within the first minute). They rallied well, though, and actually put together a nice offensive showing, but they couldn’t hold on to even a two-goal lead, and one tough turnover in overtime sank them, and they’ve got another loss in the books. Tough, but not unexpected, if we’re being real.

All stats via Natural Stat Trick.

Offense going

One of the first things worth noting was that this was one of the Flyers best offensive showings of late, and by a pretty comfortable margin. This was only the second time that the Flyers scored four or more goals since December 18th against Ottawa (the other being January 29th against the Kings), and for the first time in a while, the Flyers had some nice stretches of actually looking quite dangerous offensively.

Feeding that was the fact that the Flyers were doing well to get the puck moving up-ice in transition, and collecting some speed through the neutral zone. We’ll see a prime example of that in a moment, but it’s something that stood out for them throughout the game. They were creating some space and making the most of it, and looking the most cohesive we’ve seen them looking in a minute. There’s always room to see more of that, but it was a nice first step.

All told, though, they did struggle to hold off this Penguins offense that’s been clicking very well. They came out of this one with an adjusted 48.4 CF% and 45.95 xGF%, so while we did like a lot of what the Flyers were doing offensively, the Penguins were just doing it better this time around.

Claude Giroux appreciation post

Despite the tough loss, the Flyers did get a couple of standout performances from their players, and leading that charge, as always, was Giroux. He got the team on the board with gusto, kicking off a rush up-ice and then after some give and go, finishing it off with an incredible shot.

That was a real standout moment, but it wasn’t an anomaly. Giroux’s line with Oskar Lindblom and Cam Atkinson was their best at driving offense on the night, coming out of this one with an adjusted 62.46 CF% and 50.98 xGF%. They were leaned on heavily in this one, and they came through.

Trade rumors seem to be intensifying around here, and Giroux’s future is uncertain, but there’s no question that he’s still giving this team his absolute all. This very well might have been his last Flyers-Penguins game, and he was certainly playing like it.

Scott Laughton’s still doing his thing

We should also toss a nod in Laughton’s direction, because he had himself another very good game as well. And that’s probably one of the least surprising things we could point out, knowing what we know about how Laughton operates. Even when things are going very poorly for the team at large, he’s still showing up to work with jump and giving it his best, and that’s what we got out of him again last night.

He was a real driving force in the team’s offensive efforts in this one. He was tied for the team lead in shot attempts and scoring chances at 5-on-5 with four, and held the lead in high danger chances with two. He was feeding that rush game well, and he was rewarded for his efforts with a nice goal early in the second to tie the game for the Flyers.

Laughton is, if nothing else, dependable, and it was nice to see him getting rewarded for all of his good work in this one.

At long last!

The injury bug continues to ravage the Flyers, and Gerry Mayhew was out for last night’s game, as he’s still dealing with some swelling around his eye after taking a nasty cut on Saturday, and Derrick Brassard remains out as well. And because of that, Morgan Frost is back up with the team, centering the third line, and Isaac Ratcliffe was bumped up to play on his wing. And if nothing else, this is a great story.

It’s a [setup] that’s been, quite literally, years in the making. The two played together on a line in the 5-on-5 tournament in their 2019 development camp, and when asked about the possibility of this line carrying over into their professional careers, Ratcliffe acknowledged that this had been on both of their minds for quite some time:

“I think that’s really been the goal since draft day. That was really the first time I met Morgan too, went up to the box there after the draft in the second round earlier in the day. That was the first time we said hi together, and we kinda laughed about playing together one day on a line with the Flyers.”

Did this line end up being a stellar fit? Not really. They produced a couple of looks, but on the whole, the Penguins were getting the better of the matchup when that line was on the ice. They’ll likely go back to the drawing board on this one, but hey, we still appreciate the story.

So it goes

This was a tough loss, there’s really no way around it. The Flyers had what should have been a comfortable lead heading into the third period, they were getting good goaltending to give them a solid foundation, and all they had to do was not mess this is up, and well, they messed it up.

But for as much as this loss stings, there doesn’t feel like more you can do than shrug your shoulders. A rookie in Ratcliffe took two penalties and gave one of the top power plays in the league some space to work with against one of the worst penalty kills in the league. They scored one there. Then a breakdown came with a line of young players on the ice, and just like that, the game was tied. The Flyers, thin and depleted, stayed in this game for a while, but they were just beaten by a much better team. That doesn’t make the result any easier to swallow, but sometimes that’s just the way she goes.