Spring has officially sprung, with the temperature in Philadelphia a breezy 54 degrees on this equinox afternoon; the NHL season is just 20 games away from its conclusion; and the Flyers are threatening to rip off a series of wins in meaningless games to tank their tank.
They defeated the New York Islanders today in a hard-fought 2-1 game in Philadelphia.
While Friday night’s loss to the Ottawa Senators was played with Claude Giroux on the Flyers’ roster but in the books as a healthy scratch, today’s afternoon game is the first official game without Giroux. The Flyers were also without Justin Braun, held out of the lineup as a potential trade target, and Gerald Mayhew, claimed off waivers by the Anaheim Ducks.
It’s been a dark time in Flyerland, and at this point it feels like we’re all just rooting to lose out the season so we can stop watching them play and maximize their draft capital. But we do kind of have to enjoy the wins when they do come, even if it’s not the outcome that best serves the future of the franchise. I mean, I can’t watch the puck go in and not cheer a little beat, even if it’s not even enough to startle the cat on my lap.
The Flyers will embark on a five-game road trip starting on Tuesday against the Red Wings.
Pretty early on, Owen Tippett drew a hooking penalty on Casey Cizikas and the Flyers went up a man. The power play unit of Kevin Hayes, Tippett, Travis Konecny, Joel Farabee, and Cam York looked pretty solid, getting a few chances and keeping the puck in the correct third of the ice for around 90 seconds before a clear and a Joel Farabee slash sent the game to a few seconds of 4-on-4. New York did not score on their abbreviated power play, either.
Casey Cizikas would break the ice for the Islanders, scoring off a slapper from the center of the ice that deflected off of Patrick Brown’s stick and into the net.
The Flyers finished the period with an advantage in shots, with 11-6 at all strengths and 10-6 at even strength, but did not break through Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin.
Then, if you stuck around for TNT’s intermission report, you got to hear Anson Carter answer Liam McHugh’s question about the Florida Panthers’ acquisition of Claude Giroux by saying that it was the Ben Chiarot and Robert Hagg acquisition’s that “really moved the needle” for him, so that was something.
The Flyers broke through early in the second, when Joel Farabee poked the puck away from knockoff Sebastian Aho as he was breaking it out, where it was scooped up by Travis Konecny and quickly moved cross-ice to Kevin Hayes, who scored on a pretty open net.
After another great Tippett scoring chance that rocketed off the post, the Flyers eventually went back to the power play when Andres Lee caught Morgan Frost up high on a follow through. The best scoring chance, though, came at the wrong end of the ice when J.G. Pageau skated the puck out and Zach Parise eventually found Zdeno Chára for an unimpeded slapper on Carter Hart.
Kieffer Bellows’ hook on Hayes put the Flyers back up a man, and Chára blocked Morgan Frost from a point blank early on in the two minutes, but the Flyers were able to get it back the next time they entered the zone and go up a goal. Joel Farabee poked a loose puck off a rebound from in front of the net onto Hayes’ stick, who buried it from a near-identical position as his first goal.
The period came to an end with the Flyers up 26-19 in shots, 49-37 in shot attempts, and thanks to Kevin Hayes, 2-1 in goals.
The third period featured some back and forth play, but nothing on the scoresheet after the Islanders killed off Zdeno Chara’s hooking penalty in the first few minutes of the period. The Flyers were once again getting the better of the ice tilt, but only slowly adding to their lead in shots, as the first 15 minutes of the period saw only 14 shots on net between both teams. James van Riemsdyk had a prime opportunity on a breakaway and tried to go low on his backhand side on Sorokin, but he shut the pads on him, and later Konecny sluiced one right in the gap between Sorokin’s mask and chest protector.
Barry Trotz pulled Sorokin with just under 2 minutes to go and sustained the pressure in the Flyers’ zone for a full minute. Trotz then elected not to take a timeout following a Flyers icing, a backhand rainbow from Travis Konecny that missed the empty net by inches, to keep the tired Flyers on the ice. Philly got a quick change on a puck out of the zone just off the face-off, though, and the Islanders took a break to talk things over with 32 seconds left.
The Flyers were then able to finish the game out for a win, their second in the last three.
- Owen Tippett looked pretty active out there, firing a good amount of pucks towards the net, two of which were stopped by Sorokin and one of which clanked off the post. He played on a line with Oskar Lindblom and Morgan Frost and got some prime power play ice time. Also, he looks exactly like Wade Allison.
- Kevin Hayes has now strung some good games together, with his two goals today topping off a very strong game in the Ottawa loss and a goal and an assist against the Predators.
- Another in the strong game column, but for what felt like the first time in a while: Ivan Provorov. Some very smooth puck-handling from him in the offensive zone, not many bone-headed plays in transition, and he put 3 shots on net.
- Despite being a pretty avid cook myself, I do not watch a lot of cooking shows, especially the competition shows. But that one they kept showing on TNT for a cooking competition where one of the cooks is secretly fucking with the others’ food looks just wacky enough in our post-post-post modern TV competition landscape to draw me in.
- The Flyers are now 143-98-26-18 (W-L-T-OTL) against the Islanders all-time and will not play New York again this season.
- Travis Sanheim led all Flyers in ice time, both at even strength and overall. The Flyers had the better of the shot attempt ratio with Sanheim on the ice, 25-19.
- This was the first time the Flyers have won a home game without Claude Giroux on the ice since February 25, 2016, when they defeated the Minnesota Wild 3-2 thanks to goals from Pierre-Eduoard Bellemare, Mark Streit, and Sam Gagner. This game was also the only home win without Giroux during his entire tenure in Philadelphia.
- Carter Hart made 26 saves on 27 Islanders’ shots, for a .963 save percentage, his best since his 47-save performance against the Golden Knights four starts ago.
- Owen Tippett became the second Flyer ever to wear sweater no. 74, after Mike Vecchione wore 74 for two games in 2017. Vecchione did not score in his two games for the Flyers, or in the one game he played this year for the Washington Capitals. Tippett came dangerously close to recording an assist on one of the goals today when he ripped a shot whose rebound was touched by both Travis Konecny and Joel Farabee before Kevin Hayes put it home.