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Blues 4, Flyers 1: Another close game goes the other way late

Flyers drop their sixth in a row, still winless since the ASG.

St Louis Blues v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

The Flyers lost another close game to a good team in Philadelphia tonight. While the Blues were able to develop a lot more scoring chances than the Flyers, the two teams ultimately put a very similar number of shots on goal and were only separated by one goal by the time the final horn sounded.

While many may say that if the Flyers are going to lose, they’d prefer the game at least feature some fun stuff—say, I don’t know, fights or goals by Gerry Mayhew or a lot of high event hockey—part of me often thinks if the Flyers are going to lose, I’m fine with the game just being fairly quick. These two teams barely even broke 20 shots each, but it took less than 2 hours and 30 minutes from puck drop until the Flyers officially lost, and I wake up pretty early for work, so I welcome these kinds of games in a way, too.

So it’s now six in a row without a win, extending the Flyers’ third-worst streak of the season a little closer to the second-worst. There’s now 31 games left this season and 11 left before the trade deadline hits. Following this unsuccessful back-to-back, the Flyers’ll have three days off before the host the Washington Capitals in a Saturday matinee—another prime opportunity for a loss to propel them further into lottery contention.

We will see you then.

First Period

The Blues opened the game with a strong couple shifts, hemming the Flyers into their own zone for much of the first few minutes of the game, but the first high danger chance came on a Scott Laughton breakaway, where he opted for one of his go-to moves—a deke to the backhand and on-ice five-hole attempt—but Jordan Binnington locked it up. By the midpoint of the period, the zone time felt basically split between all three, with the Blues just ahead in shots.

Despite a Jordan Kyrou shot off the post and a great save from Martin Jones on a play around 12 minutes into the game, he wasn’t able to make a second save in the series, as a crashing Brayden Schenn beat Ivan Provorov and James van Riemsdyk to a loose puck and poked it into the top shelf for a good goal, even with referee Frederick L’Ecuyer trying to wave it off and forcing a second look.

After 20, the shots were all knotted up at 10 apiece, but the Blues were outperforming the Flyers in nearly every other metric: shot attempts 25-17, unblocked shot attempts 20-14, scoring chances 13-8, high danger scoring chances 7-2, and of course, goals 1-0.

Second Period

The Blues rode that success into the second period, this time with their advantage showing up in the shot count as well. Through 10, they had doubled the Flyers in shots and shot attempts, with the Flyers most dangerous chances coming in short bursts—like a two-on-one that saw Claude Giroux rip a slapper off the crossbar—and the Blues chances coming as a result of more sustained zone time and nice passing.

The game’s first penalty came with 6:28 left in the middle stanza when Travis Sanheim was sent to the box for hooking David Perron. The NHL’s second ranked power play went to work immediately, moving the puck around the zone and getting off a few dangerous-looking one-timers, but the Flyers ultimately killed it off.

The Flyers would get their own crack at the man advantage just a few minutes later when Nikko Mikkola held a cutting Scott Laughton as he received a pass in the slot in front of Binnington. The period came to an end without a goal, but with the prospect of 30 seconds of Flyers power play time to begin the third.

The Flyers finished the period with deficits in the same even strength metrics they trailed in after the first, but this time the Blues were also able to put more shots on Jones than the Flyers were on Binnington: 21-12 in shot attempts, 16-10 in unblocked attempts, 10-6 in shots, 12-7 in scoring chances, and 6-3 in high danger chances.

Third period

The Flyers’ power play ticked away without a goal, but they ended up controlling much of the play to start the third period. In fact, the Blues didn’t record a shot on net until after the Flyers scored their first goal of the game, taking advantage of that control thanks to a long bomb from Oskar Lindblom that snuck untouched through a screen and over Binnington left shoulder.

Unfortunately, when the Blues did record that first shot around 9 minutes into the period, it beat Martin Jones, as Vlad Tarasenko scored on a sliding one-timer from a Robert Thomas pass from behind the net. The goal came just 42 seconds after Lindblom’s, giving the Blues their one-goal lead right back.

Torey Krug took a tripping penalty with 5:02 left to play, sending the Flyers to the power play with their best shot to tie the game, and spent most of the man advantage with the puck in the zone, but walked away without a goal. Martin Jones would come to the Flyers bench with around 1:45 left in the game, giving the Flyers the extra attacker for nearly the length of a power play. The Flyers made a push, but Ivan Barbashev was able to pick off a pass to Ivan Provorov and break loose to pot his 16th goal of the season on the Flyers’ empty net. The Blues would get another empty netter from Brandon Saad in the final seconds of the game to turn a formerly close game into a scoreboard blowout.

Stray observations:

  • I watched this entire game and I don’t recall hearing anything about Cam Atkinson at all, which is something that’s been rare this season, as he’s been among the Flyers’ most consistent contributors. Even though the scoresheet is telling me he did have a shot on goal, his game tonight didn’t stick out the way it normally does. He’s probably earned an off-game here or there, but seeing as he’s one of the more exciting players to watch, he was missed.
  • I think because we’ve gone so long without seeing certain opponents thanks to the nature of last year’s schedule, every time the Flyers play a new team there seems to be at least one guy who I had no idea was on that team. The Blues edition of that was Brandon Saad. If you had given me 10 guesses yesterday to name the team Saad is on this season I’m about 75% sure I would not have gotten it.
  • In the past few games we’ve seen Isaac Ratcliffe take great advantage of his long reach and that continued tonight. While he isn’t the quickest, when guys do get by him he is still able to make a play on the puck—now unexpected because he’s in a blind spot—often enough for it to be noticeable.
  • I think it was probably only a matter of time before I completely overshared on this website, but every single time JJ says that someone shot the puck “up but not out” of the zone, I end up singing multiple lines from the “Bones Are Their Money” sketch from I Think You Should Leave, where Tim Robinson’s character ad libs lines in a song about skeletons and says “the skeletons will pull your hair up but not out.”

Stray stats:

  • This was only the fourth time these two teams have met since former Flyers coach Craig Berube took over for the Blues. Berube is now 4-0-1 against his former team. This was the first time these teams have met since former Blues coach Mike Yeo took over for the Flyers.
  • The Blues’ bottom defensive pair of Jake Wallman and Robert Bortuzzo were well on the better side of the shot attempt battle during their ice time with a variety of forwards, with Wallman on the ice for 21 shot attempts and 7 shots and just 6 attempts against and 1 shot against.
  • Rasmus Ristolainen led all players on both teams in shots on goal with 5.
  • Going by the Gregorian Calendar, today is the date with the most instances of a single digit of our lifetimes to this point. The next day with at least six repeating digits will be December 22 of this year, and then after that there will not be another until November 11, 2101. Hope you enjoyed your Tuesday.