At long last, the final week of the season is upon us. In many ways, with the ways the injuries continue to pile up in particular, it’s feeling like the Flyers are just limping their way to the finish line, but last night saw them show up in a big way and pick up a definitive win over the Penguins. Which you always love to see.
And while it certainly wasn’t a perfect game for the team as a whole, and there’s a lot we could break down about that, the real star of the show was the kids, and that’s fun and that’s what we really want to zero in on here.
The Flyers’ offense in this one was by and large driven by their all-kid line of Noah Cates, Morgan Frost, and Owen Tippett, and they were a whole lot of fun to watch. The numbers bore out well for them—the line put up an adjusted 69.57 CF% and 92.67 xGF% on the night—but they also brought quite a bit of flash in the goal scoring department.
Morgan Frost cleans up the rebound after Owen Tippett was robbed in front! pic.twitter.com/TNZGhMqvSH— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) April 24, 2022
Morgan Frost opened up the scoring for the Flyers, and it was a nice reward for a hardworking shift for that line as a whole. Tippett really did all of the heavy lifting on this one, getting that puck to the net, getting the initial attempt, and creating a bit of havoc, but it was still nice to see Frost not give up on the play and cash in on that rebound chance.
But Noah Cates was the big offensive powerhouse of the evening.
Noah Cates deflects Keith Yandle's point shot for a 2-0 Flyers lead over the Penguins! pic.twitter.com/5iAVSXFoKG— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) April 24, 2022
Noah Cates did it again! He has points on all three Flyers goals today. pic.twitter.com/jpclAI8BMA— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) April 24, 2022
After putting up the secondary assist on Frost’s goal, Cates was able to really keep the ball rolling, and put on a clinic on setting up in front of the net and tipping pucks—he put the Flyers up 2-0 after deflecting Keith Yandle’s shot from the point, and then did it again, redirecting a shot by Provorov for a power play goal (yes, you read that right, a power play goal).
He almost got the hat trick too—he kept after it right until the end, and got a good look on one of his last shifts of the game, but it didn’t quite go for him—so he was sticking with it and bearing down right until the end, which was nice to see, even if he didn’t get the result. He’s been playing the right way and taking care of all of the details of his game, and while that doesn’t always directly translate to flashy offensive sequences for him, he certainly reminded everyone that he does still have that in the toolkit.
It wasn’t all goal scoring flash, of course. As those numbers that we mentioned above suggested, the line was really buzzing throughout the course of the game. The first chance on the first goal was a good one for Tippett, and he was robbed on another later in the game as well. This line was flexing their creativity, their building confidence, and were doing a really tremendous job of generating quality chances.
Louis Domingue denies Owen Tippett with a great pad save after a nice pass by Morgan Frost. pic.twitter.com/5bMX9pKnos— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) April 24, 2022
But it wasn’t all Cates, Frost, and Tippett in this one (even if it was mostly them). Travis Konecny also picked up a goal in this one, with an empty netter to seal the win, and was tied for second among skaters in individual scoring chances in this one, with three. Bobby Brink also had three scoring chances and brought some good jump to his game. On the defensive side, we saw Linus Hogberg making some subtle but important defensive plays as he continues to get adjusted to this level.
A few good defensive plays by the Hog. pic.twitter.com/yhPJmPBetL— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) April 24, 2022
The kids showed up in a big way yesterday, and combining that with the good work that Felix Sandstrom and Egor Zamula have done since brought up, the way that Ronnie Attard’s offense has flashed and his defensive game has settled down of late, and even the excellent play Cam York was bringing before he was injured, and there’s a lot to like and a big cause for optimism around this crop of young players.
And to be clear, this is not us saying that the Flyers can now feel comfortable running it back next season and abandon the “aggressive retool” because it now looks like some of these kids are going to pan out. That would be far too dramatic of an overcorrection. The Flyers still need much more skill added to their lineup than they have now, and should still have a busy offseason addressing that. But what games like last night’s tell us, and what should be a comfort as we barrel towards the offseason, is that the roster may not be so far away as they may have looked even just a few short weeks ago. They’ve got something to work with here.