What we learned from the Flyers 5-3 loss to the Ducks

Some observations for your morning...

Well, folks, Lou Nolan Night did not end up going as swimmingly on the whole as we might have hoped. They kicked off the evening celebrating Nolan’s 50 years with the team, and that bit was perfect—there were gifts given and nice tribute shown, and all of that was really well done. The subsequent game for the Flyers, well, not so smooth. Let’s get right into it.

All stats via Natural Stat Trick.

Two big things

Gotta keep showing up

We’ll give the Flyers this much, they really did start this game off well. They did get a bit of help from the Ducks looking like an absolute disaster in the first period, but the Flyers did some good work in capitalizing on the space they were given to work with. They put up two goals in the first frame and really seemed to have the Ducks on their heels, and the game was suddenly pretty interesting.

Then, though, they came out flat for the second period and erased all of that good work. They allowed two goals in just a hair over a minute and half early in the period, and then Trevor Zegras scored on the power play late in the period to pull the Ducks into the lead. The Flyers had nothing going for them in the middle frame—across all situations they had just four shots on goal. And while they were able to settle in a bit more in the third period and tie things up again, the damage had been done already, and the team was reeling. The Ducks continued to bear down and had two more goals in them before the end of regulation, and the Flyers just didn’t have the steam to get themselves the win in this one. And that’s another game to add to the list of ones that got away from them.

On learning experiences

A phrase Mike Yeo has been leaning on a good bit recently is that of the learning experience. The team has to learn to win, to play the right way, and losses like last night’s when you let your foot off the gas and the game gets away from you are useful lessons in how not to plat and close out games. And in a vacuum, that’s absolutely true, and the team should be learning from their missteps. But we also have to ask—how many times have we seen games unfold like last night’s did, and how many lessons were available before that one that just haven’t seemed to take. If they’re learning experiences, no one seems to be learning anything, Something’s not sticking here, for one reason or another, and all we’re saying is that with all of that considered, it might be time to find a new descriptor for the kinds of games.

Bits and bobs

Attard gets his first

But, there were still some positives to take from this one. The biggest and nicest of those is the news that Ronnie Attard finally got his first NHL goal, and it was a real journey to get here. He came close to scoring on Tuesday against Columbus, but his shot was (rather nicely) deflected in by James van Riemsdyk. It looked like we might have had a repeat of that last night too—his shot looked like it might have gone in but the goal was initially awarded to Hayden Hodgson, even though he came into the pile saying it was Attard’s. Upon further investigation, at intermission the goal was changed to Attard’s, though, and weird as it ended up being, his first NHL goal was his.

But beyond that bit of scoring flash, Attard’s continuing to settle in nicely at the NHL level. He admitted after the game that the nerves are gone from him, and things are starting to slow down for him a bit more, and he’s getting back to just playing hockey. His defensive reads are improving, and he’s continuing to do nice work in transition. There’s still some work to be done here, but the step we’re already seeing him taking are encouraging.

Frost flashes

And speaking of players who are continuing the keep things rolling nicely, Morgan Frost is on quite the tear here.

Last night we saw him pick up the primary assist on Travis Sanheim’s goal on a nifty feed from the goal line, and make a couple of other nice plays with the puck through traffic, a couple of nice dekes, that he wasn’t rewarded for with points on the board, but were still nice to see. Frost can be such a creative and dangerous playmaker when he’s going and his confidence is up, and we’re finally seeing that all coming together for him. Mike Yeo was a little tepid in his praise for Frost after this one (noting that he felt Frost went as the team went here), but the offensive flashes we saw from him were undeniable. He’s been a real treat to watch lately.

Konecny can’t buy a goal

If you want a play that’s pretty perfectly emblematic of how things have been going for Travis Konecny this season, well, look no further.

It’s a shame that Konecny is getting just awful luck here, because he’s doing some really solid work on the whole. Last night, he was tied for the team lead in shot attempts at 5-on-5 with five, and held the lead in scoring chances and high danger chances, with three and two, respectively. He’s getting really good chances here, he’s just not getting any bounces.

An apology is due?

The Flyers are fully to blame for letting this game get out of hand, but I will take personal responsibility for probably throwing a jinx into the mix. When the Flyers were still sitting with their 2-0 lead and looking good enough, I turned to my press box neighbor and our pal Charlie and said something like “alright, now that the Flyers have their lead, let me see Trevor Zegras do something cool.” And, well...

Granted, when I said that, I was not thinking “can Zegras embarrass his old NTDP buddy Cam York,” but here we are. (They seem to be cool though, they were chatting after the game).

Anyway, sorry about that. It was a real cool play though.