Well, we don’t really know what we expected here. The Flyers, who have struggled mightily to create momentum for themselves all season, had a chance to keep some good things rolling after a nice win over the Capitals on Saturday... and then went and got shut out by the Oilers last night. If you were hoping to see a winning streak kick started, you’ll have to keep on waiting. Sorry, gang.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick.
This was a bit of a weird one for the Flyers. The offense obviously wasn’t really coming for them, but it wasn’t entirely for lack of trying. The Flyers did get the better of the shot share overall at 5-on-5, as they put up a raw 54.46 CF%, (that drops to 48.93 percent when you score adjust, though), but their adjusted 41.78 xGF% share tells us that this offense was primarily coming from the perimeter.
The weird bit, then, comes from the fact that the Flyers were getting themselves to the right spots to create more dangerous chances, but they were falling apart at the last second. Whether it was due to overpassing or just whiffing on a shot after a nice bit of passing to set up a would-be chance for, the Flyers just didn’t end up the looks they needed here. They very nearly had a number of really nice chances, but they didn’t end up with any of the finish. There was some good work happening there, but it all just needed some cleaning up.
A note on discipline
And speaking of cleaning up: the Flyers found themselves having a real discipline problem last night. They took five minor penalties on the evening, with two coming in the first period and three in the second. And this is a poor play regardless of the team you’re playing against, but this was an example of playing with fire to the extreme—the Oilers have two of the best players in the league on their power play, and they’re clicking at a 26.3 percent rate, good for third in the league. They may have slightly underperformed the expectation by only scoring one goal on the power play, but you still do not want to give them that many chances to work with.
There’s also something to the fact that all five of these penalties were stick infractions (four trips and one high stick). The high stick was just something of a careless play, generally, but four trips is pretty egregious. What it tells us matches what the eye tells us about this game on the whole—the Flyers were chasing this game and struggling mightily to keep up.
Power play still struggling
A bit of a mirror for the Oilers’ power play success has been the Flyers’, well, lack of success. They’re cruising at a 13.8 percent conversion rate on the power play, which is good for third worst in the league, and the same struggles they’ve been dealing with of late stuck with them in last night’s game.
They didn’t get the same volume of calls as the Oilers did (nor did they deserve it, in fairness), but they did still have a nice chance to work with, with 51 seconds of 5-on-3 time to work with, and they got nothing out of it. They were moving the puck around well enough, but they just couldn’t seem to get much going in the way of very dangerous chances. And that was, to be a little simplistic about it, a real shame to see. The Flyers had a chance to turn the game around there, and they couldn’t get it done.
And one final note that we’re just going to leave you with before we move on: the Flyers haven't scored a 5-on-3 goal at all on the season. Not a one.
A rough night for the second line
We’re sticking on the doom and gloom theme for a bit longer here, to make a note that this was not a great showing for the Flyers’ second line of Oskar Lindblom, Scott Laughton, and Travis Konecny. Not only did those three take all four of those tripping calls on the Flyers, but their line also really struggled in the possession department, when they did get time together at 5-on-5. They put up an adjusted 34.54 CF% and 13.39 xGF% in two periods, before the coaching staff (rightfully) opted to break them up in the third period.
And while we can’t point to this and say it was the one reason that the Flyers lost this game—there are three other lines that could have been doing things after all—but their struggles certainly made things a lot harder on them. Because, even as they’re getting a bit healthier, the Flyers are still not exactly a very deep team. They have what could be two good lines right now, and when one of them is having this hard of a time, the team’s offensive struggles are going to be compounded that much more.
The big picture
So, now we’re here to ask, what are we to take away from this one? This was a really poor offensive showing from the team, and it’s certainly concerning that they cannot seem to build momentum game over game to save their lives. But the fact that the Flyers very nearly put together some nice scoring chances was encouraging. They flashed a bit of quite dynamic skill last night, and even if they weren’t able to close on those chances, seeing them attempting those types of plays and nearly, nearly pulling them off was enough to make you perk up a bit.
They’ve gotten a bit more skill injected into their lineup, and they might well be seeing even more of it in the next few games, and that should (we’re being careful with how optimistic we’re being here) be a further boost for them, but they have to start doing something with that. The Flyers are depleted, but not nearly as depleted as they were at points this season, so their time to use that as an excuse is running out. They can get this thing trending back in the right direction, the door is open, but we’ll see how this shakes out in the next little bit here.