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Red Wings 6, Flyers 3: Maybe Justin Braun was the key all along

The Flyers did a few good things in this game. They did more bad things. As they do.

Philadelphia Flyers v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

Turns out that when you lose your best player, your best pure defensive defenseman, and one of your only actual NHL centers, you get worse. Who knew?

The Flyers kicked off a five-game road swing with a 6-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night, completing a season sweep at their hands in the head-to-head series. They fell behind 3-0 and then nearly clawed all the way back twice, but were never able to knot it up from there.

Gameflow:

  • Bit of a slow start to the game here. Neither team gets a shot on goal until almost four minutes in, when the Flyers get a 3-on-2 rush that gets on net by way of the stick of ... Kevin Connauton.
  • And then Detroit scores. Carter Hart initially commits a bit too hard to one side, Joe Veleno wraps it all the way around to the other side, and Rasmus Ristolainen just sort of stands in Hart’s way right in the crease. Veleno gets some room to shoot at, and he finds the back of the net. 1-0 just over five minutes in.
  • Pretty slow next few minutes as well, and then ... oh goodness. Ristolainen lays a hit on the boards, but loses the ensuing puck battle, and Tyler Bertuzzi hits Jakub Vrana right in front. Vrana takes a second, and gets a shot of that Hart doesn’t even react to thanks to some traffic in front of him. 2-0 Flyers. Not a good start for anybody, but ... particularly bad start for Ristolainen.
  • The Flyers get their best near-chance of the period as Oskar Lindblom and Ivan Provorov get a 2-on-1, but after the former’s pass hits the latter he can’t get control of it in time for a shot on net. He does, however, draw a penalty to put the Flyers on the power play for the first time tonight as he’s slashed by Givani Smith.
  • It will not shock you to know that this power play did not go particularly well. The Flyers are sitting on four shots on goal 17 minutes into the game.
  • Flyers have maybe their best 5-on-5 shift of the period in its final minute, as they end up in the right place at the right time but aren’t really able to get a shot off in the process. Lucas Raymond quickly gets down the ice and gets a shot on Hart, then the Flyers take it back up-ice and put one up on Nedeljkovic that he grabs easily.
  • Detroit heads into the locker room up 2-0.
  • The second period begins with a shift that had two decent chances for Filip Hronek, for whom every time Jim Jackson says his name I’m hearing “Roenick”.
  • It gets worse. Nice pass by Dylan Larkin to Raymond, who a) looks like he is maybe 12 years old and b) one-times the shot so hard that he falls to the ice as he shoots it. It goes into the net. Red Wings up 3-0 just about a minute into the second period.
  • Well hey look at that! There’s a response. The Flyers, just 25 seconds after Detroit’s goal, get on the board, as an own-zone turnover by Detroit creates (/squints and looks closely) a 3-on-0 for the Flyers with Konecny, Hayes, and Farabee, the last of whom is the one tapping the puck past Nedeljkovic after a sequence of passes. How about that. 3-1 Detroit.
  • Detroit gets the better of the few minutes after the Flyers’ goal, but no real strong chances either way.
  • This continues for a few minutes. I do not know what the offensive zone looks like.
  • Well, I do now. Sanheim blocks a long shot down and gets it up to Hayes, who finds Konecny in the neutral zone, and he puts a pass right where Lindblom can get it in stride for a breakaway. Lindblom beats Nedelkovic in alone, and the Flyers, somehow, are back within a goal.
  • The Flyers, for the first time in this game, are buzzing. They’ve had most of the action in the few minutes since they got that goal, including a flurry on net where it looks like JVR got denied in close.
  • Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu great play by JVR in the neutral zone to spring Farabee on the breakaway but his initial chance is denied and JVR can’t corral the loose puck that follows shortly thereafter in front of the crease.
  • And that hurts, because it’s now a two-goal game. Larkin carries the puck into the zone, walks it across to the other side, then puts a perfect cross-ice pass right on Vrana’s stick, and he rips it into the net before Hart can get over. Lead is back to two with about a minute left in the second period.
  • That is how it will stay going into the break, and that’s unfortunate for the Flyers. The latter half of the second period was their first real extended stretch of good play in this game, and it just sorta blew up in smoke with one bad shift. Does not feel like this team has a two-goal rally in it, but let’s find out.
  • For the third time in this game (out of three periods) (seems bad), pretty sleepy start to the period for the Flyers. One decent chance from Cam Atkinson after he wins a race to a puck in the neutral zone, but not enough offense here for a team that’s down two in the third.
  • Nick Seeler and Jake Wallman exchange some light pleasantries along the boards, but no penalties are called for it.
  • And then after the commercial break we get an actual fight, this one between Zack MacEwen and Givani Smith (who laid a big hit on Ivan Provorov earlier in the game). Both guys get five, and Zack avoids an extra two despite being a bit faster to start the fight there than Smith.
  • Well, if you’re gonna do it, now’s the time. Farabee cuts into the offensive zone and gets tripped for his troubles. Flyers head to the power play for the second time in this contest.
  • Whew man that was a stinky power play. Really stinky (smells bad). And then seconds later Tyler Bertuzzi gets the puck off of a real bad turnover by Cam York behind his own net, and then seconds after that Atkinson sets up Patrick Brown on a rush but his pass is deflected over the glass. Running out of time here.
  • That’ll help! Farabee wins a puck battle below the goal line, he shuffles it over to Atkinson, and Cam spots it right where JVR can one-time it from the circle into the net. We are, once again, within a goal, this time with about nine left.
  • Flyers are once again picking it up in the second half of a period. Wasn’t enough in the second, let’s see if it is in the third.
  • A couple of good chances there for Provorov, first off of his skate and then his stick, but neither beats Nedeljkovic. With four minutes left in the game, the Flyers have 16 shots on goal in this period.
  • Well. That’s probably not what anyone involved had in mind. Mike Yeo pulls Hart with about three minutes left and it doesn’t seem like anyone on the Flyers noticed. Detroit exits the zone with control, Oskar Sundqvist fires it into the empty net, and the Flyers are going to lose again.
  • They pulled Hart again and Detroit scored on an empty net again.
  • OK, sure, MacEwen and Smith fight again right on the next faceoff. MacEwen kinda beat his ass again. Why not.
  • 6-3 is your final.

Stray Thoughts:

  • There was a bit of lineup silliness for the Flyers in this one, as they (one day after trading an NHL defensemen) decided to play seven defensemen and 11 forwards. The result was a mishmash of lines that seemed to change around quite a bit throughout the contest, which I suppose is fine at this point in the season when you’re just looking for something, anything, to work, but it was a lot to follow.
  • The two guys who seemed to really have it tonight were maybe the two best healthy forwards left on the roster, Travis Konecny and Joel Farabee. Farabee has basically looked like the ideal version of what you would expect from him in these last few games since Claude Giroux told him that he would break all of his records (oh god damnit I’m getting sad again), and TK, despite having some trouble actually putting the puck in the net, is generating a ton of chances and setting his teammates up for even more. If this really is being used as an evaluation period for the guys the Flyers have, those guys are putting themselves in a pretty good position.
  • Definitely a more quiet second game in orange for Owen Tippett. Was not quite as active as he was on Sunday and didn’t generate quite as much offensively, though clearly whatever he’s doing the coaches are liking it because he was just six seconds off of a team-high in ice time for forwards. It’ll come around for him. Hopefully.
  • I’m not even gonna gripe too much about lineup and player usage choices, because what the hell are you going to do with this roster anyways, but between the Flyers needing 10+ minutes in each period to realize they’re playing in a hockey game and then whatever happened at the end with the two(!) goalie pulls that immediately turned into goals against, some questions Mike Yeo’s going to have to answer for after this one.
  • Cam York led the Flyers in ice time tonight, by almost two whole minutes. He has pretty much been stapled to the hip to Provorov at 5-on-5. Something to watch going forward.

St. Louis on Thursday. See you then.