Well, that’s the end of that, at least. The road has not been kind to the Flyers so far this season, and this most recent trip has just been more evidence of that to tack on to the whole of that scope. The Flyers were looking to close out the five game trip strong in Minnesota last night, and they, well, they did not do that. They dropped this one 4-1 to a very good Wild team, and head home with a 1-4 record on the trip (not exactly the synergy we were hoping for, but alas).
All stats via Natural Stat Trick.
A good start?
In a somewhat strange turn of events, as compared to what we’re used to, the Flyers actually started this one, and there was a lot to like in that. They didn’t break onto the score sheet, but the energy through the first 15 minutes of play was quite good. The team was skating well, engaged physically, and just overall hanging well with the Wild, and we thought “hey, they might just be in this game.”
And then, of course, the wheels fell off. The Flyers gave up two goals in just a hair under two minutes in the final five and a half minutes of the first, and swiftly got back on their heels, and they allowed this to carry over into the second period. Things really got away from them, and the Wild took full advantage of the momentum swing—they scored two more goals in the middle frame and held the Flyers to just five shot attempts and four shots on goal across all situations. And it goes without saying that is not the kind of response that the need needed to put up here.
Welcome, Noah Cates!
There was some levity to be found in this one, though, and we had a nice thing happen in Noah Cates’s debut. Signing out of Minnesota-Duluth this weekend, it was nice (and perhaps just convenient) that Cates was able to then make his debut in Minnesota, with his family and his whole Bulldogs team in attendance. Just nice to see.
But as far as the actual play in his debut, Cates made a pretty seamless transition into NHL play. He doesn’t bring a terribly flashy game (not that this is a bad thing), but he did impress in the areas that he tends to when he’s at his best. He was frustrating on the forecheck and was able to force a few turnovers and break up a few Wild chances, and his relentlessness on those plays really stood out. He didn’t seem lost in the moment, there was a real confidence to his game right off the hop.
All in all, Cates looked very solid in his debut, and perhaps even more exciting, served as a really nice compliment to what linemates Morgan Frost and Owen Tippett do well, so we’re excited to see what this group can do going forward.
On the power play
The Flyers got something of a mixed bag of a showing on the power play last night. We’ll knock out a note on the negatives first: the Flyers struggled on entries again in this one, looking a bit disjointed moving through the neutral zone. They also nearly gave up shorthanded goals twice. Jones bailed them out, but that and three shots on goal are certainly more than you want to give the Wild to work with shorthanded.
But now on to the positives. Once the Flyers did get into the offensive zone on the power play, they looked pretty good! They were moving the puck well and flexing a pretty distinct shoot-first mentality. In their 7:21 of time on the man-advantage, they put up 13 shot attempts and six scoring chances. There’s still some room to clean that up, but they did get rewarded with a goal for Frost—the team’s only on the game and Frost’s first since December 30. If nothing else, it’s a step in the right direction.
We’re being a bit hyperbolic here, but there was a bit of a wrench thrown into things yesterday afternoon. Martin Jones got the start on Sunday in Nashville, and the expectation because of that was that Carter Hart would be starting last night. But no! It was announced that he’s dealing with a bit of a nagging injury and that would keep him out of action, so Jones would go again, and Felix Sandstrom was brought up from Lehigh Valley on an emergency basis. Always a new adventure.
But the good news is that whatever Hart’s dealing with isn’t serious, and he should be available again this weekend, but needed last night off. And, as far as Jones’s second consecutive start went, it was solidly fine. He had a pretty substantial workload, facing 37 shots on the night across all situations, and allowed four goals for an .892 save percentage. He wasn’t able to steal them this game, but he also didn’t sink it for the team either.
And that’s all, folks
Well, sort of. With last night’s loss, the Flyers are officially eliminated from playoff contention. That this happened obviously isn’t a surprise, but at least now we don’t have to talk about it anymore. The season is officially effectively over, but we’ve still got 15 games left to get through. The Flyers’ experimentation period should continue, so we’ll see what else they can come up with to throw at the wall.
Ronnie Attard just signed his ELC as well, and he should be available to play this weekend. He may be one of the last kids we see called up, though—the Flyers opted to have Hayden Hodgson stick around, and his emergency recall became a regular recall, so the Flyers only have one left to call someone up from the Phantoms. We’ll see what they do with that too.