They say it’s hard to beat a good team twice, and if you’re the Arizona Coyotes, it’s also hard to beat a bad team twice.
Carter Hart and Eric Lindros both returned to the Wells Fargo Center for 90s night on Thursday. The Flyers lost their previous matchup with the Coyotes back in December, but they entered this game looking to build on a three-game win streak following the Disney On Ice road trip sweep. Needless to say, Mickey Mouse would be proud, because this was complete domination.
The Flyers clearly wanted to get an aggressive start, but it almost led to more harm than good. Quick, confident puck movement generated a plethora of scoring chances offensively, and despite going into the intermission with a grand total of 16 shots between both teams, the Flyers generated five high quality scoring chances in the first eight minutes. The point-men were also aggressive. The skillful trio of Travis Sanheim, Cam York, and Tony DeAngelo were each frequently seen driving play in the offensive zone, and Rasmus Ristolainen also contributed to offensive possessions by prudently pinching at the blue line. However, when Nick Seeler tried to do his part with some aggressive play in the neutral zone, he was very quickly and easily tamed by Michael Carcone who took advantage of some open ice and beat Carter Hart over the shoulder for the game’s first tally with seven minutes remaining in the period.
As time continued to tick, the period became ... well ... boring. The Flyers clearly took the foot off the pedal a bit, and despite getting the first power play, they failed to challenge Arizona’s Karel Vejmelka with anything resembling a scoring chance. The final five minutes quickly elapsed with little happening for either team.
The Flyers started the second period on the power play as Juuso Valimaki decided that he wanted to delay the game with eight seconds left in the first period. This led to a five-goal Flyers onslaught which gave the Flyers a 5-2 lead to end the second. That’s right. The Flyers scored five goals in a period. I hope you chose to bet the over.
The Coyotes also got a goal in the period, and as you’d expect, it came roughly 30 seconds after a Flyers tally. However, if we are being honest, only one person was to blame. Carter Hart didn’t quite get enough WD-40 before the game and his rusty stickhandling deflected a soft backhand shot right into his own net.
But let’s focus on the positives. How did the good guys score their goals? Well, the Flyers returned to their aggressive gameplay with Sanheim and DeAngelo each recording assists. It was endless offensive pressure that was truly something to watch.
Oh, and before we move on, some good news was released. Kevin Hayes was selected for the 2023 NHL All-Star Game. And frankly, he deserves it. Congrats, Kevin.
Following the almost flawless second period, the Flyers kept up the pressure in the third. The Coyotes tried to generate offensive chances, but they failed to maintain possession long enough to threaten Carter Hart. The Flyers played a tight forecheck, either causing several turnovers in Arizona’s zone, or forcing the Yotes to dump and change.
The pace of the game never slowed, and with very, very few whistles to halt play, the period flew by. Speaking of fast, there were audible gasps when Rasmus Ristolainen generated a breakaway opportunity with eight minutes left in the period. He did so the old fashioned way. Steal the puck, and outskate the opponent. Seriously, it happened. I didn’t catch who the poor victim was, but Ristolainen left him in the dust. Of course, the shot attempt went as expected—i.e. wide of the net—but, boy, it was fun to watch.
Near the end of the game, the Flyers would ultimately add one more tally by James van Riemsdyk, assisted by an unbelievable effort by Owen Tippett to secure possession of the puck. The ever-surprising Philadelphia hockey team would go on to get its fourth straight win. The final score: 6-2. Next up: the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday night.