The back-to-back is over and it was not kind to the Flyers. After taking the Hurricanes to overtime on Monday, the hope was that the Flyers would be able to build on what was overall a pretty solid showing and stop the bleeding against the Blues, but this... did not go to plan. The Flyers brought some good energy, all things considered, but this game was a messy one and they really weren't able to get going offensively. They hung in there until the bitter end, but they still couldn’t find that extra gear to push for a win. Alas.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick
Same old, same old
We’re starting to feel like a bit of a broken record here, but the Flyers do feel like they’re caught in a bit of a feedback loop right now. For their last four games now, they’ve faced off against tough opponents and hung right with them, but just failed to find a way to close out those games. And while it’s up for debate how much the Flyers were really in last night’s game, as they largely got buried and put up an adjusted 39.88 CF% and 30.7 xGF% at 5-on-5, the reality still is that they carried a tie into the third period, and this was a one-goal game until the very end, so technically, they were still close. But they just cannot seem to finish out these games strong, and things keep getting away from them.
Frustration is certainly mounting though, and while we have seen them taking some steps in the right direction, their job is now getting even harder, in that it’s now about figuring out how to put together a win while also combatting allowing that frustration to completely destroy their process again. The Flyers have to keep the wheels on.
Isaac Ratcliffe promoted
We talked about this after Monday’s game, that Ratcliffe is continuing to impress since his recall, and the coaching staff has seemed to agree, as they promoted him to the top line with Claude Giroux and Cam Atkinson for last night’s game, after giving him a look there late in Monday’s. And this is a move that makes a lot of sense—on top of getting some fresher legs up on that line for the second half of the back-to-back, Ratcliffe’s been doing well in the corners, retrieving pucks and creating some space for his line mates, and that’s something that could certainly benefit some of your more skilled players in Giroux and Atkinson.
And while this line didn’t flash to a huge degree, they still put in some good work on the night. They were the Flyers’ best by the numbers, at least in part, as they got the better of the share of raw chances (a 54.12 CF% and 67.30 SF%), but struggled in the more dangerous chances department (18.26 xGF%). It wasn’t an immediate resounding success, but it’s not like the team as a whole was lighting the world on fire in this one. If nothing else, it was an intriguing first look, and it seems worth giving them another game to see if they can build on that.
Morgan Frost takes a step forward
It’s been a little up and down for Frost of late, but he was given a couple of nice opportunities in last night’s game, and he was running with them. Since Ratcliffe was moved up in the lineup, there was shuffling elsewhere, and James van Riemsdyk was moved down to play alongside Frost and Mayhew. And while this is technically a demotion for van Riemsdyk, it’s hard to begrudge a chance for Frost to play with a more skilled linemate.
And while this line was held off the board, they did put together a couple of nice looks. And Frost looked sharp in this one, bringing good energy and flashing the crafty playmaking that makes him so effective, and that was really nice to see.
He also got a chance to play a bit more on the power play, and he also really stood out there, and that’s something Mike Yeo singled him out for after the game:
I thought that Frosty did a great job. That’s what you have to do. You have to make reads, you have to beat pressure, and there’s one sequence where he’s basically got three guys on him, but he’s got the poise and the skill and the hockey sense to make a play down low.
It’s tough out here with so many players missing due to injury, but the moral of the story here seems to be that when he’s given some skilled wingers and put in a position to succeed, he delivers.
Another fine showing for Jones
We talked about Martin Jones facing a tough ask after he was tossed the start at the last minute before Monday’s game, but with Hart still out and Kirill Ustimenko—still unproven at even the AHL level—called up to back him up, Jones was asked to start again on the second night of the back-to-back, and that ask got even tougher. And all things considered, Jones delivered quite a solid showing, even in a loss. All told, he stopped 22 of the 24 shots he faced, and while he had a couple of dicey moments, he also came up with a couple of really nice saves. He didn’t really stand much of a chance on those two goals against, as bad things are bound to happen when you leave Brayden Schenn and Vladimir Tarasenko uncontested in the low slot. But he was tracking pucks well and kept the team in this game for, really, a lot longer than they deserved to be in it. No complaints here.
We’ve got to talk about Ivan Provorov
Maybe it feels a little unfair to single out one player for criticism after the team’s sixth consecutive loss, but we have to here (but we’ll be quick). Because we’ve got to talk about Ivan Provorov, man. We’ve been alluding to his, frankly, disastrous play of late—his blind pass from behind his own net turnover cost the team their game against the Capitals, and he got burned again defensively on Monday against the Hurricanes—and that unfortunately just seems to keep rolling, and even getting worse. His decision making recently has been suspect at best, and his play with the puck has been an absolute mess. And a degree of this was to be expected—we know he’s best when playing with the right partner, and he doesn’t have that right now, but his play is reaching whole new levels of troubling here. And this is likely some bad play continuing to compound itself, and this isn’t his true talent level that we’re seeing, but it’s still raising some questions about what that true talent level is, and how much help he’s going to need to get back to looking like a serviceable NHL player on a consistent basis, because that’s not what they’re getting right now.