Flyers 4, Devils 3: All’s Hell that ends Hell

Claude Giroux refuses to let this team die in a quick, humane manner.

The Flyers and the Devils allegedly played an NHL hockey game tonight. What exactly happened during it, who stood out, and why did this game matter? All this and more below.

What went right?

Well, a few things. The Flyers mostly controlled the game or drew even in terms of shots, chances and pace, but there were some enormous flaws and lulls within that (more on that later). While this was an uninspiring game, Philly played better than New Jersey for the most part. Sean Couturier opened things up with a nice deflection goal off a Phil Myers shot, and the offense produced a few more quality looks in the first period on some wide-open attempts by Joel Farabee and Couturier.

Wade Allison made some really nice individual plays, including a slick pass to Jackson Cates to set up a breakaway. Aside from that, there wasn’t a ton to love from the first two periods. Obviously the team did some other things with the way the shot totals looked, but it was mostly pounding the puck from the perimeter and ineffectual offense. For a game where the Flyers “outplayed” the Devils, they sure didn’t do much with the control they had. Oh, and JVR made a beauty of a pass to set up a Giroux goal, which he promptly followed with another tally to tie the game and pass Brian Propp in career points by a Flyer. Hockey is dumb!

The overtime period was solid all around from Philly, with a great effort on the penalty kill and some odd-man attempts keeping MacKenzie Blackwood busy. The shootout saw goals from Giroux, Couturier, and the game winner from Kevin Hayes in the 6th round.

What went wrong?

The defense was a tire fire, specifically the duo of Myers and Morin. The twin towering blue liners displayed a shared lack of hockey IQ on the sequence that led directly to New Jersey’s first goal of the game, and repeatedly chased for hits in lieu of legitimately effective play (getting sticks in passing lanes, gapping up effectively, shutting down transition at the blue line, etc).

However, that pair alone wasn’t the only one to blame. Every single Flyers D pairing looked abysmal tonight, lapsing coverages and generally struggling with the same issues that have plagued the back end all season (marking men, switching zones, walking the blue line). The play of Brian Elliott in net was adequate, but not good enough to cover for the mistakes of the defense, and the offense’s approach to generating scoring didn’t exactly help anything.

The first period in particular had a six or seven minute span where the Devils looked like worldbeaters, moving down the ice wholly unimpeded. The power play looked like trash yet again, reminding us all of an unanswered question: how the hell is Michel Therrien not looking for a new job? Chances were generated, but nobody could finish, yada yada yada. The worst part of all of this? The Devils obliterated Philly in the third period, racking up shots and chances at will. We have three more consecutive games of this, folks. Here are the other Devils goals from regulation, for posterity.

In overtime, Ivan Provorov took a rough tripping penalty, so that was less than ideal. Brian Elliott got pantsed a few times in the shootout to neutralize the Giroux and Couturier goals, but it ultimately didn’t matter. Not a great start to the series, not that it means much.

Three Big Things

  1. If the Flyers keep this kind of play up, they’ll lose this series. Giroux can’t continue to carry an entire team when he’s 33 years old; the younger guys need to prove that they’re worth keeping around for next year, and in a hurry.
  2. Speaking of Giroux, how about that game from the captain. Two clutch goals, solid overall defensive play, and arguably the most noticeable impact skater the Flyers had on the ice all night. To the people in the comments of my preview today who were ragging on Giroux and saying they “needed more out of him,” please continue to put your bad opinions on blast so that Claude can instantly make them obsolete (just messing, love y’all). Third in all-time points by a Flyer ain’t a shabby title.
  3. Phil Myers has been an abject disaster on skates this year. It might be time to shut him down and give Zamula/York a shot in his stead. Morin hasn’t looked much better either, so it wouldn’t be a shock to see him ride the pine for a spell as well.

Post Game Tunes

Freddie Gibbs is one of the weirdest dudes out there, but he writes exclusively bangers. Note that this isn’t clean.

Good night, good hockey, and as always, go Flyers.