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What we learned from the Flyers 9-2 loss to the Capitals

Some observations for your morning...

Philadelphia Flyers v Washington Capitals Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Flyers got nine goals put up on them. We don’t want to talk about it but we are here to talk about it.

All stats via Natural Stat Trick.

Season’s cursed

It is painfully clear by now, but last night tacked on an additional reminder that this whole season is just incredibly cursed. Both Carter Hart and Cam Atkinson left the game before the second period with lower body injuries and did not return. Mike Yeo didn’t have a precise update on them after the game, but he did say that they were both doubtful to be in tonight.

And Hart seemed to be laboring on some of his saves early, and was looking uncharacteristically sloppy (which is kind of a telltale sign that he’s battling something), and why he was allowed to gut it out through the rest of the period we don’t really know, but he only made it through the first period. And then Atkinson left the game after taking this hit from Tom Wilson.

And Atkinson has been a little banged up for a while, and this may well have just been another ailment to tack onto the list of whatever he’s dealing with, but the end result was still the same. And either way, man, that was a pretty dangerous hit.

Martin Jones did his best

And since Hart left the game last night, that meant that Jones had to come in, and he was not dealt an easy card. It was a 3-1 game already when he came in, and things only kept spiraling badly for the team after that. The Capitals’ offense was clicking well, and the Flyers’ defense was doing, uh, whatever this was, so it was not a good time for Jones.

The numbers don’t bear out well for him (six goals on 21 shots faced), and while he didn’t come in at the absolute top of his game, it’s hard to pin too much blame on him for how this one played out.

Welcome to the NHL, Bobby Brink!

Man, what a game to make your NHL debut in, huh? It was overshadowed a bit by the overall pretty brutal showing by the team, but it was still an exciting night for Brink, and he showed some nice flashes in that debut. While not the case for the team as a whole (39.26 CF% and 32.62 xGF% at 5-on-5), the numbers did bear out well for Brink—he ended the game with an adjusted 52.23 CF% and 56.82 xGF% at 5-on-5. His individual offense popped as well, as he put up four shot attempts and two scoring chances (both ranking second among all skaters), made a couple of nice passing plays on the power play, and, of course, picked up his first NHL point already with an assist on James van Riemsdyk’s second goal of the night. It was about as strong of a debut as you could have in a game that was going that poorly on the whole. Hopefully tonight’s is a little more normal and we can see what he can do in that setting.

A hot second of resilience

In a bit of a “famous last words” type of irony, Yeo was interviewed on the broadcast during the first period and made note that he was liking the team’s resiliency, despite their being down on the scoresheet. And there was something there—the Capitals were getting the better of the play, but the Flyers were still attacking and trying to get some chances of their own, they weren’t going to go away quietly and a comeback was still in play.

But then as the score continued to get away from them in a bad way, that attacking mentality became a bit less consistent. And that is kind of understandable—a team puts up a touchdown and then some on you, you’re going to be reeling a bit—but even the flashes we did see we're encouraging. We’re doing a bit of praising the team for doing the bare minimum, but them not packing it in entirely is a small step in the right direction.

So it goes

We’ll be direct here: this was a terrible game for the Flyers. And in a season where they’ve put up a host of embarrassing losses, this one is likely towards the top of the list. And that’s tough and we want to see the team doing better, and the team almost certainly feels like they can do better, but at the same time, there did feel like there was a degree of inevitability for a game like this. Certainly not to the degree that this one went sideways on the scoresheet, but with a team like this one that is both beat up and simply not that good, you can get stretches where they play well and over perform expectations, and you’ll also get games where they get absolutely walloped.

This is a game that swings so far to the bad end of the spectrum that you almost want to be careful not to take too much away from it (the team is not that good but also not that bad), but there may still be some lessons to be found here. Namely, we hope that management was watching the defense they put together break down that badly and start to think about how to make some fixes.