The trade deadline is a thing of the past, the Flyers are back, and things are still looking, well, largely the same around here. The Flyers played their first game since the deadline last night, picking up a tidy enough 3-1 win over the Red Wings, while looking largely neither better nor worse than they have for much of the season. That shouldn’t be a big surprise, of course—the departures were Zack MacEwen to the Kings and Elliot Desnoyers and Olle Lycksell back to the Phantoms, and the only addition was Brendan Lemieux, all of which was not going to amount to a massive move of the needle.
Now, this largely the same lineup did put together a pretty complete game last night, we’ll give them a nod for that. The energy was good. They got the better of the chances at 5-on-5, as they averaged an adjusted 57.28 CF% and 61.54 xGF%. They couldn’t convert on any of their three power play chances on the night, but they did get some of the better looks we’ve seen from them recently (and totaled seven shots on goal and five scoring chances). They shut down the Red Wings’ power play and even got a shorthanded goal from Nic Deslauriers.
Deslauriers with DeSHG. #DETvsPHI | #FueledByPhilly pic.twitter.com/H8SRdl8W1j— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) March 6, 2023
Now, all of that said, we can’t help coming away from this one feeling like there was some scoring left on the table. The Flyers were getting a lot of good looks in this one—the all situations Expected Goal total was 4.41 to the Red Wings’ 2.14—but they just weren’t able to convert on as many of them as they would have liked. And it remains that, on a more talented team, one with more finishing talent up and down its roster, this might have been a blowout.
If this is a process they’re going to be able to continue to roll with through the rest of the season, that’s great news, and it’s doing well to set a solid foundation for a team that certainly needs it. But the lack of scoring in direct relation to it is yet another reminder of how much work still needs to be done.
Bits and bobs
Tanner Laczynski’s back!
There was another in-house addition to the lineup for last night’s game that we overlooked, so let’s get to that now: Tanner Laczynski was back in the lineup for the first time since sustaining an ankle sprain back in December. And with the nature of that injury and the amount of time missed, we recognize that it’s going to take him a bit of time to get back up to speed, but that said, the initial impression was a good one.
He was skating well, he got a couple of looks offensively (two shot attempts and one scoring chance at 5-on-5), and while his role was understandably limited at 5-on-5, his trust from the coaching staff seemingly hasn’t wavered, as he was dropped right back on the penalty kill last night, where he contributed well to the unit’s success. It’s been a tough go of things for Laczynski recently, but his potential to be an actually productive piece of the Flyers’ bottom-six in the future hasn’t changed. We’re keeping our expectations reasonable here, but this final stretch of the season is about Laczynski driving that point home for management, and he’s off to a good start.
Farabee’s finally getting some looks
Speaking of getting back to speed, Joel Farabee sure had himself a game last night. It’s been. tough season for him, as he’s seemed to be working to get himself back up to speed on the fly after losing just about his whole offseason of training after neck surgery, and understandably, it’s been slow going. He’s had stretches where he’s been close to a non-factor, and again, while we understand why that would be the case, it’s been tough to watch.
But last night saw him bring perhaps his best showing of the season. He wasn’t able to get himself on the board, but he was really buzzing, creating chances for the team in bulk. He came out of this one with seven individual shot attempts, five scoring chances, and four high danger chances across all situations. It was like a switch flipped for him, and while it remains to be seen whether he’ll be able to keep that momentum rolling down the stretch, this was the most dynamic we’ve seen him look in a long time, and that sigh was, if nothing else, a real comfort after all that he’s been through.
Climbing the rankings
And our final note before we go is also a bit of good news. There haven’t been many consistently positive stories throughout this season, but one that has been is the play of Noah Cates. He had a solid more or less audition at the end of last season, and he’s continued to prove himself as a useful and productive NHL player in his first full season removed from college, and that’s no small feat. And with his goal scored that night, he hit the 10 goals on the season mark, and 27 points in total, bringing him into the top-10 in rookie goals and points scoring.
It’s not enough to move him all the way into the Calder conversation, but Cates has been having a quietly very solid and productive season, all on a messy and bad team. So credit to him for doing that, it’s been a real treat to watch.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick.