The Flyers are... healthier? And... they won a game??? No, you have not slipped into the Twilight Zone (at least, we’re pretty sure you haven't).
All stats via Natural Stat Trick.
This was, if nothing else, a bit of a weird game. This was evident from the first 30 seconds of action, wherein the Flyers picked up a goal on their first shift of the game, and then followed that up with a penalty. High event, shall we say.
But the Flyers did get off to a very good start in this one. They were dominant in the first period, out-chancing the Capitals 26-9 in shot attempts and 10-3 in scoring chances, and of course outscoring them 2-0. They were playing with good speed and creating some nice chances, and the Capitals just didn’t seem to have an answer for that.
Until the second period, that is. The Capitals came out hot for the second period and the Flyers were back on their heels in a big way. Their offense was stifled for much of the rest of the game (after putting up 14 shots on goal in the first period, they put up just eight in the final 40 minutes). The Flyers did pick up some steam later in the third period, and even if they weren’t producing great offensive chances, they were forcing the Capitals to spend a bit more time defending. But it still felt like they were holding on for dear life at times there, so this was not the cleanest win, but they still did pull it off.
Good thing Carter was on
And the biggest reason they were able to pull off that win? That’s right, Carter Hart.
After missing the last two games dealing with an eye infection, Hart was back in the lineup yesterday, and he looked sharp as ever, and it sure is a good thing. He didn’t have the biggest of workloads in this one, as he only faced 28 shots in total, but he did well with it. He only gave up the one goal, and that one came on a great shot by T.J. Oshie on the power play and just... there’s not a whole lot you can do there. But Hart kept things locked down after that, and came up with some really big saves down the stretch to maintain his team’s lead.
We wouldn't say that this was surprising, Hart’s been doing this all season, but it was nice to see him get just enough run support in this one to actually get a win to reward his efforts. At long last.
Welcome back, Joel Farabee!
The Flyers got a real boost for this game as, on top of Hart returning, they also got Joel Farabee back for this one! And he was tossed right back into the fire here, given a heavy workload playing alongside Claude Giroux and Cam Atkinson, and he did well in that role. The numbers didn't really bear out well for them (a 38.96 CF% and 46 xGF%), but they did still combine for one of the Flyers’ two goals of the game, so we’ll take that for now.
But Farabee’s individual impact was pretty immediately felt, as he brought some really nice energy and provided a nice boost to their transition game. Farabee is certainly a distinct impact player, and there’s a lot that he can offer when he’s on his game, but this game was also a nice reminder of “wow, so this is what this team can do when they’re working with even something just resembling a healthy lineup.” Crazy how that works out.
But back to Farabee for another second. Because also, this happened, and it was really funny. So thanks for the content too, pal.
lmao Tom Wilson has a full diaper and Joel Farabee is just like "whatever" pic.twitter.com/4juFzEHTt0— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) February 26, 2022
Cam Atkinson’s “back”?
It’s been a bit of a tough go for Atkinson recently. He had just one point in his last six games heading into yesterday’s and he hadn’t scored a goal since his two-goal showing against the Kings on January 29. It wasn't that he was playing very poorly, but he just couldn’t seem to get a single bounce to go his way.
But yesterday’s game was a very good one for him, and his offense certainly seemed to be going for him again. He made a nice play on his opening shift to win a battle and get the puck to Giroux for the Flyers’ first goal, and then he picked up a slightly weird but still nice goal on the rush for himself later in the first period.
Cam Atkinson is having himself an afternoon! pic.twitter.com/rSg0CrGiry— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) February 26, 2022
They were two hard-working plays to get him his two points on the afternoon, and that can go a long way to get him going again. We know where the Flyers are at, they’re not trying to rally to make a playoff push or anything like that, but they can still push to find some more positive results and improve their process and habits, and if they can get some guys like Atkinson going again, that’s going to be a big asset to them in working towards that.
For the first time in seven games, the Flyers are in a new position, wherein they’re heading into their next one thinking not about how to stop the bleeding, but how to keep building on good things and keep from falling back into bad habits. As Yeo alluded to after the game, the Flyers got a win and that can be a little bit of a reset for them, and be a little healthier (at least for the time being, we know how these things can go, and have gone for them this season) certainly helps. But keeping the ball rolling has been one of the Flyers’ biggest challenges this season, so how they respond against the Oilers on Tuesday will tell us a lot about how things are trending with the team. They’re looking like they’re turning a corner here, but now it’s up to them to prove that this wasn't an illusion.