Big news, gang! The Flyers came off of a tough loss to the Maple Leafs and headed up to New York to face off against both a good and recently embarrassed Rangers team, and they got the better of them! It was a little uneasy, but they did it, and they did it while picking up their first shootout goal and win of the season.
*Twilight Zone theme plays*
Anyway, uh, let’s get into some of the big performances of the night.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick.
The Flyers got out to an early lead in this one, somewhat inexplicably perhaps, but they did it, and York was the one to get it started with a big shot from the outside beating Shesterkin.
Cam York with the knucklepuck! pic.twitter.com/Tpm7vTQXDA— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) April 3, 2022
We’re seeing his confidence continue to grow, and while it feels like a lot of the conversation around his play recently has centered around Ivan Provorov and how him being paired with York has helped to elevate his play, but it shouldn’t be lost in here that York has been doing some very good individual work as well, and last night was no exception.
His underlying numbers in this one were pretty good, as he came out of this one with an adjusted 45.49 CF% (which is +18.06 percent relative) and 54.99 xGF%, both of which ranked him just outside the top five among all skaters, but tops among defensemen, which is all just to say that while it wasn’t a wholly dominant showing, he held up very well in tough matchups, in a game where the team as a whole struggled territorially.
If nothing else, it was a big night for the Flyers’ gingers. Owen Tippett picked up their second goal of the night, and his first as a Flyer.
Owen Tippett with a great effort for his first goal as a Flyer! pic.twitter.com/06xIaRbn8o— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) April 3, 2022
And this probably wasn’t exactly how he might have drawn it up in his head, but it was a good, hardworking play, and he got rewarded for not giving up on the play. And this, too, was pretty emblematic of his play on the night, on the whole. He couldn’t get another break to go his way, but he was certainly still active in this one—he lead the team in scoring chances at 5-on-5 with four, and had two really nice breakaway chances to work with. He’s certainly settling in well with his new team, and if this is a preview of what he can do if he can keep this rolling, then he’s looking like a very nice addition to this young core.
And speaking of players gaining confidence and coming into their own, Morgan Frost had himself a very good game last night. He didn’t get himself on the board, but he was getting some good chances, and his skill was on full display in this one. Just look at the move he pulled off during overtime.
Morgan Frost shows off the hands in overtime. pic.twitter.com/IL7cWmTMxg— Ryan Gilbert (@RGilbertSOP) April 4, 2022
There’s been a lot to like in how Frost’s game has been trending over the last few weeks, but it all feels like it’s coming together for him in a big way here. His confidence with the puck is really popping, but his play away from it is improving too. He’s skating well, he’s winning more battles along the boards, and it’s just a pretty complete game that he’s been bringing recently. And that, perhaps, is even more encouraging to see than just his scoring popping off.
And pivoting away from the skaters now, the big reason why the Flyers were able to pull off this win was Jones, full stop. He was dialed in early, and really had to be. The Flyers had the early lead and were really jumping on their opportunities, but even before they were able to get themselves on the board, they Rangers were getting the better of the play. The Flyers were outshot 32-16 in the first two periods, and Jones came up big for them to hold onto that lead, and he held very steady in the shootout to secure them the win. All told, he stopped 43 of the 46 shots he faced on the night, so certainly not an easy night for him. It wasn’t an especially flashy showing necessarily, but it was very solid, and it was exactly what the team needed from him.
The big picture
This game was certainly an adventure, to say the least. After their loss to the Leafs, Yeo talked about how the team didn’t just bend, but they broke, and that’s why the game got away from them. And the Flyers did take a step forward in last night’s game, in that they absolutely tested the limit of how far they could bend without breaking, and didn’t end up completely breaking. But it still got close! There’s a lot to like about how the team was able to start, but they were really holding on for dear life here, and their struggle to close out games remained an issue. The Flyers put up a cool 15.79 CF% in the third period at 5-on-5. It was rough.
And part of that is just that, as was the case against Toronto, the Rangers are just a more talented team and they’re going to make you pay for your mistakes eventually, and that’s what happened here. But there are also lessons to be learned here about bearing down and making fewer of those mistakes. It’s all a work in progress.