What we learned from the Flyers 2-1 loss to the Blue Jackets
Some observations for your morning...
*extremely The Giant from Twin Peaks voice* it is happening again.
It has happened again! It being a ten game losing streak for the Flyers. For the second time this season.
The Flyers’ difficult stretch is still going strong, and despite a good effort and close game against the Blue Jackets last night, the Flyers’ offense wasn’t able to break through in the way that they needed it to, and they still couldn’t pull off a win.
All stats via Natural Stat Trick.
For all that we’ve complained over the last little bit here that the Flyers’ offense just really hasn’t been going over a good portion of this stretch, they have been slowly sort of getting back to trending in the right direction. We saw them getting some nice looks on Tuesday against the Islanders, and they built pretty well on those efforts last night. Just about across the board, really, the Flyers got the better of the offensive play in this one, They got the better of the raw shot volume as well as the share of more dangerous chances, and were able to put up 34 shots and 14 high danger chances across all situations, as well as an adjusted 53.62 CF% and 54.77 xGF% at 5-on-5.
It wasn’t perfect, but we saw them making strides in their transition game, and that was a nice little boost. They were playing more cohesively, and working well to get to the net for more dangerous chances. Overall, the process was a pretty good one, they just couldn’t really solve Elvis Merzlikins.
And while it was a busy night for Merzlikins, it wasn’t a perfect one. He did stop all 11 of the high danger shots he faced, and came up with some pretty flashy saves at times, but there were still a few more dodgy moments where a nice window opened up for the Flyers, but they couldn’t beat him, and just did not get one single bounce in this one.
And that really just seems to be the way things go around this time. In a ten game losing streak, badness and and unluckiness tends to compound in a way that’s quite ugly, and makes it even harder to break out of it. The Flyers really should have had at least one more goal in this one, and had a better chance of snapping that losing streak. There’s something to be said about their shooting talent having taken a bit of a hit with some of the absences in the lineup, but they’re also just getting absolutely no bounces right now.
Carter Hart delivers again
On the flip side, it was another solid game for Hart as well. It wasn’t quite as busy of a night for Hart, as he only faced 29 shots on goal and five high danger shots, but it was still a respectable enough workload. All told, he stopped 27 of those shots for a .913 save percentage, and as has been the case for basically the whole of the season, was able to really lock things down when he needed to to keep the Flyers in this game.
To see this one ending in a loss again was tough, but it’s next to impossible to pin this one on him—the defense in front broke down at just the wrong time, and those two goals came on really nice shots from two of the Blue Jackets’ most lethal shooters. There’s not much more we would have asked of him, and it was another night of him not really getting the same support he was delivering.
Penalty kill still working
If we’re looking for a positive coming out of this game, it would be that the Flyers’ penalty kill delivered quite well again. We didn’t get the almost cartoonish level of success that we saw on Monday, wherein the Flyers got the better of the offensive play while they were the ones shorthanded, but hey, you can’t have it all. They took a couple of, frankly, dumb penalties in this one, but the penalty kill did well to hold the Blue Jackets off the board and bail themselves out. In six minutes of penalty kill time, they limited the Blue Jackets to just four shots on goal, two scoring chances and zero high danger chances. It wasn’t terribly flashy, but they did well to get sticks in lanes to break up passes and disrupt the Blue Jackets’ rhythm and buy themselves a bit of time. In short, it was enough.
No lack of care
As we’ve mentioned already, with this loss, the Flyers have hit the ten game mark in a losing streak for the second time this season, and we’re not even to the halfway point. Things are bad, we know that, and it’s not really looking like this season is going to end up being very kind to anybody. But for all that’s been made about this team looking like they’re deflating or packing it in when things don’t go their way, as we’ve seen for, well, too long, the Flyers are making some strides to break out of that cycle of late. Mike Yeo talked about this after the game:
We have to just make sure that as a staff we find reasons to believe and give them hope. I know that this group cares. This is not a lack of care. I didn’t see it as much tonight necessarily, but if you saw, and all of you did, the way that guys were blocking shots, putting their body on the line, you know, Laughts jumping in for a teammate tonight, those are not signs of a group that doesn’t care. We just have to find a way to be a little better. First thing is dealing with the adversity and you know what, I think you can always go two ways: adversity is a challenging thing to go through but it can also make you better and so that’s our mindset and that’s our goal.
There are a lot of issues with this team as it’s currently constructed and currently performing, there’s no question about that. In a lot of ways they’re doing the best with the hand they’ve been dealt, so really any bit of progress is certainly welcomed.
And for its role in helping the product on the ice, and also for the fact that these players are still people who deserve better than showing up to a workplace situation that leaves them looking like their souls have been crushed, seeing a mentality improvement might be the most welcomed improvement of all.