It’s a big weekend around here, folks! The Flyers’ mini road trip continued yesterday afternoon with a stop in Raleigh to face off against the Hurricanes, and the road was still not very kind to them. They hung around for a while here, but they couldn’t hold them off altogether. They gave up the game winner to put the Canes late in the third period to put them up 2-1, and then dropped the empty net goal to end it 3-1. Alas.
And let’s just get right into our notes, because guess what! We’ve got a whole other game coming on the heels of this one tonight.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick.
Despite the score working out to be pretty close in this one, we’re not exactly coming away feeling like this was a good game for the Flyers. The Flyers had a lot of trouble both with the speed of the Hurricanes and the aggressiveness of their forecheck, and early on they were getting next to nothing going offensively, the Canes had them looking little short of scattered. They settled in a bit as the game went on, but that doesn’t mean that things ever completely got going for them. Their offense came in bursts, and the Canes got the better of them just about from start to finish. All told, at 5-on-5 alone, the Hurricanes out chanced the Flyers 63-38 in shot attempts and 2.66-1.51 in Expected Goals (that’s good for score adjusted differentials of 38.35 and 37.57 respectively for the Flyers). Which is all to say that the Flyers’ offense never really got going in this one, and that did hurt them.
A high-event afternoon for Derick Brassard
The bit of scoring the Flyers did get, well, it was a little strange. It looked like they had broken through when Cam Atkinson chipped in a rebound, but that goal was quickly disallowed because Derick Brassard had very much trucked Freddie Andersen, and that was very much goaltender interference.
But, no matter, Brassard took it upon himself personally to get that first goal for real. On their very next shift, he beat the Hurricanes defender to a rebound and chipped the puck past Andersen to tie the game.
Derick Brassard jumps on a juicy rebound for his 200th career goal! pic.twitter.com/o0ScVay1Xg— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) March 12, 2022
This was a nice way to pick up his 200th career goal, if we do say so ourselves. And Brassard in general did well in his new assignment on the top line with Atkinson and Giroux. It’s nice to see him holding up well physically (*knocking furiously on wood*) and also getting a bit of production.
Martin Jones delivers
As the Flyers’ offense was struggling to get going and the team still managed to stay in this game for as long as they could and did, the key factor in that, of course, was Martin Jones. When it was announced that he was getting the nod to start this one, there was a bit of an anxious feeling going around, just for the fact that it’s a big ask to toss your backup goalie who hasn’t played all that much this season out against one of the top teams in the league. And all of the credit in the world to Jones, because he absolutely rose to the occasion in this one. He didn’t have an easy night, facing 35 shots in total, and he stopped all but two of those (and those two goals against, he didn’t have much help from his defense on, we’ll say that much). But all in all, it was another quite solid showing for Jones—he came up with some big saves when the team needed him to, and he did just about everything he could to keep them all in the game. It’s tough to see him not get the results for that one, but that’s how things have gone this season.
What a way to lose it
Even though they were getting torched by the numbers in this one, the Flyers were still technically in this one until just about the end, but they just could not seem to avoid shooting themselves in the foot. How they lost this one, frankly, was pretty embarrassing. They gave up the game winner after Provorov turned the puck over on a weak clearing attempt that the Hurricanes pounced on to keep in and keep their offensive pressure going. And then the Flyers went with an early goalie pull with 2:40 left in regulation, trying to tie the game up, had ample time to work with, and then could not complete a string of passes or keep the puck in the offensive zone to save their lives. They looked scattered at the end, and they just couldn’t seem to get out of their own way. The Hurricanes are a very good team that gave them a lot of trouble throughout this one, but the Flyers don’t have anyone to blame but themselves for the way this one ended.
What are we doing here?
Alright, before we go, we have a quick thing to quibble about. In talking about Morgan Frost being brought back up before the game, Yeo made a point of saying that this was going to be a nice chance for him to play with some more skilled line mates than he’s had to work with during his last stint. And that’s the kind of thing we want to hear—the team should be putting its players in the best position to succeed.
But, in practice, we didn’t see that playing out to the degree that we might have hoped. Frost wasn’t given any power play time to work with, despite the fact that his prowess should give them a boost on paper. And Cam York is still stuck playing alongside active disaster Keith Yandle—he did start the third period alongside Ivan Provorov, but that only lasted a shift or two. And all of this may be minor, in the scheme of things, and you certainly can't be bending over backwards to shape lineups around just two players, but there is more that in theory could be done to help these two. And if we’re continuing to see them not getting the most out of these two players, well, it’s not exactly a mystery why.