What we learned from the Flyers’ 6-3 loss to the Capitals

Some observations for your morning...

It sure is still like two steps forward, one step back around here, huh? The Flyers put up a pretty solid win over the Penguins on Thursday, and were hoping to bring some of that momentum into yesterday's meeting against the Capitals, while also hoping to rebound from Tuesday’s 6-1 loss to those very same Caps. Instead, though, what we got was a weird game with some last minute lineup changes (Carter Hart, Nolan Patrick, and Tanner Laczynski were out with injury and Robert Hagg a scratch, and Alex Lyon, Carsen Twarynski, Nic Aube-Kubel, and Samuel Morin came in. Whew), and for a host of reasons, this game ended up a little messy, pretty indicative of the final 6-3 score. Let’s dig into that, shall we?

All stats via Natural Stat Trick.

5-on-5 struggles

The Flyers were able to keep this one relatively close for most of the game, and in a lot of ways, this feels like something of a miracle. The Flyers did pick up the three goals in this one, but those do perhaps belie at least a relatively strong underlying process. In reality, the Flyers struggled to generate much at all offensively, and got positively buried in this one.

They came out of this game with an adjusted 25.33 CF% and 8.98 xGF% at 5-on-5. They allowed 56 shot attempts, 33 shots, and eight high danger chances at 5-on-5 alone. They may have been able to keep the score relatively close, but they were never really in the best position to pull themselves fully back into this one.

Claude Giroux’s line jumps out

The Flyers, as we said, struggled pretty mightily to generate much at 5-on-5, but the line of Joel Farabee, Claude Giroux, and Wade Allison really stood out as one that was able to get themselves some chances. Now, to be clear, they didn’t win their matchup, but they did create the most out of any of the Flyers’ forward lines. The team generated just 24 shot attempts and 11 shots on goal at 5-on-5 yesterday, and this line was on the ice for seven of those shot attempts and four of those shots for. Under normal circumstances, we might say that that’s a pretty modest total, but this, again, is noteworthy because it was the highest output of any of the team’s lines.

It’s true, we’re working with a pretty low bar in this one, but this line did prove to be one of the Flyers’ better, if not best, lines yesterday. It’s one that should have some potential, on paper, at least, and certainly showed us some flashes already. And while the team’s injury situation was a big factor in why it was put together, perhaps it’s one they should consider giving a longer look.

The power play cashes in

If we’re looking for a bit of good news, though, it comes in the fact that the Flyers got a bit of production out of their power play yesterday! The real highlight of the game, if we’re honest, was the nice bit of passing on an attempt in the third period that led up to the Flyers’ third goal of the game, and Wade Allison’s first in the NHL. Pretty sweet stuff.

Though they were only able to pick up the one goal, it wasn’t a bad showing for the power play, all in all. In 9:53 of time on the man-advantage, they picked up 19 shot attempts, 12 shots, and five high danger chances, which is a pretty good output, all things considered. They were still, as has been an ongoing issue on the season, forced to stick to the perimeter a bit, but they were still able to make some nice passes to cycle the puck lower in the zone, which of course led up to the goal, and gave them a few other good chances on top of it. In short, certainly not a bad effort this time around.

Notes on goaltending

With Hart missing this game due to injury and the Flyers likely wanting to give Brian Elliott another night off, this meant Lyon was suddenly up for the start, and the game ended up being something of a mixed bag for him. All told, he gave up five goals on the afternoon, which is not a stellar total, but he also faced 40 shots in total, across all situations, which is a significant workload for any goalie, much less one who has only played a handful of games in the last calendar year.

Lyon, on the whole, while not perfect, still had a solid enough game, given what was asked of him. The Flyers’ defense wasn’t really in top form, and Lyon saw a lot of shots in this one, in a game he wasn’t even supposed to start. The ask of him was a big one, and if the team in front had been a bit sharper, we might have been looking at even a marginally different outcome.

Are we giving him a free pass here? No, his game also could have been a bit sharper and there were a few reads he seemed a bit off on. But we also understand why that all might have been the case. So it goes.

It wasn’t going to be smooth sailing the whole way

It’s funny (in a sort of morbid way) how quickly things can change, huh? After Thursday’s game we were riding high, coming away feeling pretty positive and noting that even though the season is effectively over for the Flyers, there was still the potential for some fun to be had. And. all of that said, that means we probably should have expected what came next, with the team taking a step back for this game and things suddenly getting a bit gloomier.

This season has been messy, and the team is still doing what it does, oscillating wildly between good and bad games, and we’re still along for that ride. Like the section title says, despite the good game mixed in there, it wasn’t going to be smooth sailing for the rest of the season. We’re just hanging out until we hit the next upswing.

But hey, here’s a fun bit of news to carry us into today’s game.