It’s Trade Deadline Day, folks! And that’s the bit that’s probably at the forefront of all of our minds, but we do also have a Flyers game to recap. The Flyers officially kicked off their post-Giroux era (*sad trombone noise*) yesterday, with a game on national tv, and they didn’t embarrass themselves! It wasn’t the most exciting of games, but they still did take down the Islanders 2-1. A good win, in our books.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick.
Two big things
This win means something
We’re kicking this one off, going straight into the big picture. This game had the potential to get ugly. Coming off a tough loss to the Senators, without Claude Giroux after the trade, and also without Justin Braun, who’d been held out for asset management purposes. And when the Flyers fell behind in the first period, there was a pretty distinct “well, here we go” feeling. But this one didn’t spiral for them, they kept at it, kept chipping away and creating chances, and it paid off for them.
Now, the Islanders are also not a very good team, and the Flyers are going to have an uphill battle ahead of them for the rest of the season, but getting this win almost certainly felt like a relief. The Flyers are going to be without what had been two key pieces for the rest of this season, and that’s tough, but the start of the new era without them at least wasn’t a complete disaster. It’s going to take some work to keep this thing rolling, but at least they’re starting off on the right foot. This feels like a chance to exhale.
The new kid looks good
And, of course, the big piece that most were likely honed in on for this game was the play of Owen Tippett, fresh in from Charlotte of the AHL, as part of the return from the Giroux trade. And, for his first introduction to his Flyers teammates and fans alike, he made a good first impression. Tippett came out with a lot of jump and energy in this one, and he was getting more than his fair share of looks. He was tied for second on the team in both overall shot attempts and scoring chances (with six and three respectively) across all situations, and came close twice to getting his first point as a Flyer, hitting one post with a shot and then setting up a great tap-in chance for Max Willman that he just missed on.
His line with Oskar Lindblom and Morgan Frost also showed some promise. They are out of this one with an adjusted 55.82 SCF% and 58.87 xGF%, and even if they weren’t able to get themselves on the board in this one, they had some nice looks. And on top of that, Mike Yeo also made note that he felt this was Frost’s best game playing at the center position, and that’s encouraging. They’re working on getting him going again, and the initial return on this mix has been good. We’ll see how this bears out.
Bits and bobs
Kevin Hayes stole the show
Man, Hayes really seems to be picking up steam here, huh? It’s been a weird year for him to say the least, but he does finally seem to be rebounding well from all of those injuries, and it’s been a real treat to see. He also had a nice bit of jump in this one, was moving well, and was getting some nice looks for himself as a result. He picked up both of the Flyers’ goals on the afternoon and really seemed to take it upon himself personally to drag the team to a win.
And there’s big picture value in that as well. We talked after Friday’s game about Cam Atkinson rising to the occasion and trying to drag his teammates into the fight, and that’s the same kind of thing we saw from Hayes yesterday, and that’s exactly what you want to see from the leadership group.
The power play looked... promising?
Perhaps we’ve slipped into the Twilight Zone here, but the Flyers actually looked quite solid on the power play yesterday. They picked up one goal (Hayes’s second) and that’s noteworthy in and of itself, but we do come away from this one overall pretty pleased with the process as well. The Flyers were moving the puck very well, able to keep the puck in the zone to sustain some pressure, and we could quibble about how many shots they were actually able to get on goal given the time spent in-zone (seven, with four high danger chances), they looked more threatening than they have in a while. And here’s hoping this wasn’t just a flash in the pan and they’re able to keep that rolling.
A preview of what’s to come?
With Braun out of the lineup, this opened up the door for Cam York to be bumped up for a full game playing on the top pair alongside Ivan Provorov, and that initial return there was quite promising. The pair held up under tough matchups, but perhaps what was most remarkable was how solid Provorov looked individually. He didn’t make any catastrophic mistakes, he looked more confident, and was actually out there making some plays. It’s the best we’ve seen him look in a while.
And we’ve talked a lot about the need to find the perfect partner to compliment and raise up Provorov, and while this was only a single strong game, we are left wondering... was that perfect partner right in front of our eyes this whole time?
New pals incoming?
We’re likely going to see a little more roster flux in the coming days. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see a few more players called up from the Phantoms (depending on how many players get moved by the deadline today), and we might also have some brand new faces entering the mix too. In his presser yesterday, Chuck Fletcher talked about signing college free agents, and made a point of talking about that as something that could happen in the next few days, as well as later on (read: as teams get knocked out of the NCAA tournament as soon as this weekend). This is all speculation on our parts, but the first names to keep an eye on may be Jay O’Brien and Jack St. Ivany, as their teams didn’t make the tournament and their seasons are officially over. The Flyers have five contract spots open right now, and might have a couple more opening up as the day goes on. Everything’s happening, folks!