All good things must come to an end — unless you’re someone who has been wanting to see the Flyers just lose out. Then the good things are just beginning again!
The Flyers were set to face the Toronto Maple Leafs, who the Flyers had already seen twice this season and lost both contests to. Now, the Maple Leafs certainly weren’t having the greatest of weeks. They lost to St. Louis, then got blown out by Seattle, and while they punctuated it with a home win against Detroit, they had to travel into Philadelphia for the second half of a back-to-back. If there was going to be a time for the Flyers to finally beat the Maple Leafs, this game could have been it.
Instead, the Flyers came crashing back down to earth with a game that was filled with all sorts of little mistakes.
The Maple Leafs had four shots on goal within the first minute of play.
The Flyers did start to push back a little bit with some shots of their own, but it was only a matter of time before the Maple Leafs’ high-powered offense pounced. Calle Järnkrok not only scored the goal off of a beautiful Mitch Marner pass, but prior to the play, he had tripped Travis Konecny without getting penalized for it. It was truly a string of bad events for the Flyers.
Only a couple plays later, however, the Eagles’ fight song started ringing throughout the Wells Fargo Center as PA announcer Lou Nolan congratulated the Eagles for clinching the NFC East and the #1 seed in the conference. These are the truly important things. Go Birds.
The next goal would also go to the Maple Leafs, courtesy of Zach Aston-Reese, but instead of being a hallmark of Toronto’s sheer skill, it was the result of an awful turnover on Tony DeAngelo’s part. You can’t be flubbing the puck like that so close to your own net. You just can’t.
Only 16 seconds later, Konecny sniped home a response goal. Officially, it was marked as unassisted, but really, the assist belongs to Marner for making a truly atrocious pass. It was perfect revenge for how the two Toronto goals went, really. Also, this earned Konecny a six-game goal streak. How was he not automatically chosen as an All-Star again?
After a bit of a slow start in the second period, the Maple Leafs padded their lead back up with a goal from Conor Timmins. Now, it certainly wasn’t helpful that James van Riemsdyk decided it would be a good idea to be a netfront presence in front of his own goalie instead of the opposing one, but it was still a goal that Carter Hart might want back.
FIRST OF HIS CAREER FOR TIMMINS pic.twitter.com/rlS1wK7oxp— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) January 9, 2023
Nic Deslauriers decided to make his presence known after that, and it wasn’t in the expected way. Nope, he didn’t get in a fight. He scored a goal, snapping a 31-game goalless drought. Good for him!
Deslauriers gets on the board!— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) January 9, 2023
He ends his 31-game goalless drought. pic.twitter.com/EBgXpV50U9
The Flyers’ power play went back to not being very effective — the first power play they took of the night went without a goal, and the second had a shorthanded tally from Timothy Liljegren. In fact, the Flyers lost the faceoff in the defensive zone on their own power play to set up that shorthanded goal. When you’re going to do that, there’s really no point to being on a power play at all!
The mistakes for the Flyers kept piling up as John Tavares scored the next goal. This time, Morgan Frost committed the turnover. Not every game is going to be against the Coyotes.
Johnny knows where mom keeps the cookies pic.twitter.com/TNKJ64mkUJ— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) January 9, 2023
As the game went on, it became clear that John Tortorella wasn’t happy with all of his players. DeAngelo was benched in the second period after taking only one shift. Considering his whiff on the Aston-Reese goal, it felt warranted.
Speaking of Flyers defensemen who should be in the doghouse, Rasmus Ristolainen took a penalty in the third period, and Toronto would naturally capitalize. Auston Matthews’ goal marked six games in a row that the Maple Leafs’ power play scored. What’s it like to have a power play that can be that effective that often?
That goal would be the final eventful moment of the game, and the Flyers saw their four-game winning streak come to an end.
For supporters of the tank, it may have been frustrating to see the Flyers do so hot since the Christmas break ended. The games against the Sharks, Kings, Ducks, and Coyotes all showed that this team isn’t the worst in the league. When they’re facing against other bad teams (or just happen to have a night where everything is going their way), they can actually put together a decent product on the ice.
This game, though, was a reminder of why the Flyers aren’t even close to sniffing a playoff spot right now. The Maple Leafs are what a good team looks like. They have multiple players that possess star power, and despite never making it past the first round in the playoffs, they’re always finding ways to look like maybe, just maybe, this could be the year that they do some damage.
The Flyers are not that. The Flyers are a team that still make lots of little mistakes. Sure, Konecny is out here continuing to prove that he is a core player to this team, but when your only other goal-scoring support comes from someone with just two goals on the season, it’s a stark reminder of just how little talent is actually on this team.
The Flyers still sit pretty low in the league-wide standings. Even if they aren’t the worst team the league has iced this season, they aren’t going to be on a magical run to a playoff chase any time soon.