I’m going to bet most of you were watching the Sixers beat the Raptors in game 1 of the NBA playoffs. Either that, or you were watching the Phillies actually figure out how to beat the Marlins for once.
Some of us, though, have dedicated our lives to possibly the wrong sport. I spent my time tonight watching the Flyers in a meaningless game against the Buffalo Sabres. Granted, I spent my time doing this so that the rest of you could watch the Sixers and/or Phillies in peace. (Rather, I should say in as much peace as Philadelphia sports can ever provide a person.) See, now you can all choose to read this recap instead of ever having to turn your eyes towards this Flyers team. It might be for the best if this is how you live out the rest of this Flyers season, to be quite honest.
Going into this game, a few lines got changed around. Part of this was to try to kickstart Joel Farabee some more. As of late, he had been in the midst of a scoring drought, and for someone as talented as Farabee, it was getting a bit alarming. So, Mike Yeo put him on a line with Morgan Frost and Bobby Brink. Amazingly, it didn’t take long to get this plan to work! It only took 1:41 into the game to be exact! Farabee and Brink combined on this goal, and it was exactly the kind of spark the team was looking for.
Bobby Brink and Joel Farabee. All the youth. pic.twitter.com/vvH00ZDrrh— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 16, 2022
About two minutes later, Owen Tippett scored a backhander that made defender Rasmus Dahlin look pretty foolish out there. Honestly, there was never going to be a trade in the world that could fully make up for what was lost with sending Claude Giroux to Florida, but Tippett has managed to impress me so far. In a sort of isolated bubble, he’s been a decent acquisition for the team.
Owen Tippett showing Philly he can put the puck in the net. pic.twitter.com/3tBb8QESR6— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) April 16, 2022
After these early goals, the bulk of the period then turned into watching a budding one-on-one rivalry between Dahlin and Travis Konecny. It all started with Konecny laying a big hit on Dahlin, who retaliated with a slash. At first, there was some confusion about how long the penalty would last for, with an early indication that it could’ve been four minutes. Frankly, the Flyers are the last team on earth that need four minutes of power play time, so it was actually a sigh of relief to see that Dahlin only got two minutes in the box.
Konecny laid a nice hit on Dahlin, who didn't take kindly to it. pic.twitter.com/iKWV6dihql— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) April 16, 2022
As ever, the Flyers didn’t do much at all with the power play, but pretty much as soon as Dahlin got out of the box, the two went at it again. This time, Konecny wound up with a roughing penalty.
The Konecny - Dahlin battle continues as TK earns two minutes for this jab. pic.twitter.com/XOQOlbSvEh— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) April 16, 2022
I don’t think I had a Dahlin-Konecny rivalry on my bingo card heading into this game, but it made things kind of spicy in this first period, so I’ll take it.
Beyond that, the Flyers finished this period with a 2-0 lead against the Sabres. If you’re a fan who’s rooting for the team to tank, this probably wasn’t your favorite period of hockey. However, to truly see the Flyers hit rock bottom, you also have to hope the Kraken, Canadiens, and Coyotes all manage to win tonight to close the points gap between them and the Flyers.
This Sabres team isn’t great, but they aren’t the laughing stock of the league like they were last season. Yet, there’s something about knowing that the Sabres are better on the power play than the Flyers that just feels depressing. Though, it’s not hard to score on the power play when the team doing the penalty killing decides to put all their defensive coverage on one guy. Okposo was left wide open, and it made it way too easy for him to get the puck past Martin Jones.
Kyle got himself his own present. #LetsGoBuffalo | @NewWaveEnergyCo pic.twitter.com/kVoxk8n0pP— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) April 17, 2022
The Sabres kept pushing throughout the second period, and of all players to then score and tie up the game, it had to be Dahlin. Sometimes the narratives just write themselves.
Give Ras the whole jar for that one! #LetsGoBuffalo pic.twitter.com/4663kQWt4d— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) April 17, 2022
And the narratives continued to write themselves as Konency was the next to score. I repeat, a rivalry between Konecny and Dahlin was not on my bingo card, but it was still playing out into the second period — just this time, it was all on the scoresheet.
Travis Konecny with a short-side snipe! pic.twitter.com/IGBcP0Fn5S— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) April 17, 2022
It was a short-lived lead, though, as Vinnie Hinostroza scored only a minute and a half later. Nate Thompson tried to clear away a shot that had rebounded off of Martin Jones, but instead, he practically put it on Hinostroza’s tape, and it resulted in a goal against.
He just wanted it more! #LetsGoBuffalo pic.twitter.com/BBdK8t1IfD— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) April 17, 2022
A hooking penalty from Noah Cates lead to another Sabres power play chance, and folks, it lead to another goal against, this time courtesy of Tage Thompson. Buffalo truly wanted to rub it in the Flyers’ faces as to what a successful power play should actually look like.
Can't give Tommer that much time and space. #LetsGoBuffalo | @NewWaveEnergyCo pic.twitter.com/FLaEipxAQw— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) April 17, 2022
After 40 minutes, the game was now a 4-3 Sabres lead. This was a much better period for proponents of the tank, but if that’s not your rooting interesting, then it was a poor showing for the Flyers. Unfortunately, that’s also just the way the Flyers operate this season, with more bad periods than good ones.
Honestly, this period was a whole lot of nothing. No goals were scored on either side, and the Flyers were given two power plays during it. For some teams, that might actually mean stuff happens in a game, but not for the Flyers. In fact, it’s more likely for the Flyers to let in a shorthanded goal on the power play. Thankfully, that didn’t happen in this game. In that respect, it was actually a good thing that the period was a bunch of nothing.
It was still a period that dragged on, though. If you were like me and went into this game already feeling a little exhausted, you probably wound up ready to sleep by the end of it. I sure did. It thankfully wasn’t as bad as the second period was in terms of overall play, but for there to be no real push from the Flyers to do anything meant this could also be tossed into the pile of bad periods played this season.
The best part of all this? It gets to happen all over again tomorrow! At 5:00 p.m. ET on Easter Sunday, the Flyers go back at it against the Sabres, only this time it will be in South Philadelphia instead of Buffalo.