They did it! The Flyers only won one game this week, but at least they managed to pull off that win against the Blackhawks. And that’s all we have to say on the the matter.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick.
Two big things
The Flyers were challenged pretty strongly and pretty directly to the media after Thursday’s loss to the Wild by their coach, and apparently that was echoed behind closed doors as well. That game was simply not good enough, and the team could and needed to be better. And credit to them, they came out for this game with a lot of jump and seemed determined to get themselves back on track with this one. They comfortably got the better of play in the first period and picked up the early lead on a hard working play from Oskar Lindblom and the third line. They didn’t positively control play from start to finish, but they were clicking better than we’ve seen recently. They were skating well, standing up for each other physically, but most importantly, they were creating chances and creating throughout the game. They weren’t getting lost in their structure or killing themselves trying to make the perfect play, but they were taking what was given to them and creating that way. And they didn’t just pack it in when they had the lead at the end of the game, hoping that they could coast to a win, they were staying engaged and still trying to dictate play. It was all clicking quite well for them in this one.
And, in short, this is exactly the type of response game they needed to have.
Man, the second line was fun
The Flyers getting themselves healthier again meant that they were able to reunite the line of Joel Farabee, Derick Brassard, and Cam Atkinson that was so successful early for them early in the season again, and that line tapped back into some of that old magic pretty quickly. The first period saw them feeling things out a bit, but things really broke open for them in the second period. They combined for three goals (two for Atkinson and one for Brassard), and were really dominating in the possession department as well, coming away from this one with an adjusted 64.52 CF% and 88.18 xGF% (no, that is not a typo). They were the Flyers’ best line yesterday, and they looked close to lethal at times. We’ll see if they’re able to keep this rolling, but this group is tapping into something special again.
Bits and bobs
Welcome back, Kevin Hayes
The other big news of the day came in the fact that the Flyers got Kevin Hayes back for this game, at long last, and it was a pretty good one for him. We were coming into this one without any real expectations, if we’re honest, given the fact that he’s coming back after another abdominal procedure, and even if it was more minor, that takes some doing to come back from. But Hayes looked sharp right from the hop, moving well (indeed, the quickest he’s looked all season, which was a real relief) and getting a couple of looks early. He picked up an assist on Oskar Lindblom’s goal, and ended the afternoon with four shot attempts and two scoring chances. All in all, not a bad return to action.
Not a perfect showing, though
Let’s be clear: there was a lot to like about this showing from the Flyers. It was a well earned win and a great step in the right direction. But it’s still worth noting that this wasn’t a perfect showing. The Flyers got a bit buried by chances, putting up an adjusted 40.75 SCF% and 46.65 xGF%, but Martin Jones was able to bail them out. They gave up a few really dangerous looking chances on the rush, the defense had some ugly breakdowns, and puck management remained an issue at times. The difference here from earlier points in this season is that every single one of those mistakes didn’t end with a puck in the back of their own net.
This is all just to say that we can appreciate the positives from this one, but this team is still flawed, there’s still work to do, and while this game was a step in the right direction, it was only a first step.
A bit of levity?
This game ended up being pretty chippy, and there was a point where the feeling was that the officials needed to get this one under control or someone else was going to get hurt, but before that, the physicality bubbled over into something honestly very funny.
Atkinson and Farabee execute a pretty give-and-go, then all hell breaks loose. pic.twitter.com/UQfsGT6Rw5— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) March 5, 2022
Atkinson sacred a lovely goal, there’s a few seconds of celebrating, and then chaos. We’ve got as close to a line brawl as we’ve seen in recent memory, and the goal song is still banging on at full volume. The atmosphere was impeccable. We could use a bit more nonsense like this.
Okay, but back to the serious talk again. The Flyers are at a crossroad yet again. After an overall strong showing, the Flyers have a chance to build some momentum going forward, but they’re going to have their work cut out for them. They’ve got a Vegas team that can do some damage (though they’ve run into a bit of a colder streak recently) on deck for Tuesday, and that’s going to be a big test for them. It seems like every time they have an opportunity to build on good work, they fall flat and take a step back. But this is also the healthiest their offense has been in approximately a century (don’t fact check us on that), and that does give them a boost. This was an engaged and at times quite dynamic team that showed up for yesterday’s game, but it’s an open question which team will show up for the next game. Let’s see if they can break the cycle.