When the Flyers beat the Blackhawks last Thursday, the first line controlled the game and dominated the Blackhawks. The top line showed their dominance by being the only Flyers forwards on the score sheet. Now, just two games later, they too are struggling to score.
After Saturday’s shutout loss to the Wild in Philadelphia, Coach Dave Hakstol made changes to the middle forward lines to try and jump start their offense.The first period tonight looked great, but now after being shutout for the second straight game, Where did all the offense go?
The Flyers first line, which they have been relying on since the secondary scoring stopped, is now in a slump. This was the second straight game the Flyers top line had less then three scoring chances for the game.
“Its frustrating. We are getting shots and chances, pucks just aren’t going in.” Couturier said. “We are getting shots, I don’t know if they are quality shots, but we got to get better.”
This slump is now reason to believe that Coach Dave Hakstol will chance all the lines up a little. When going into last nights game, many thought Hakstol would change all the lines before the game to help spread some of the first line power out throughout the whole lineup. However, he chose to only change the middle six up.
“I thought Weal, Simmer & Weise, they were real determined tonight.” Hakstol said. “They generated quite a bit. Had the puck quite a bit and generated a few opportunities. They were a positive tonight.”
That newly formed line had a awful start to the game. They were the line on the ice for the Wild goal in the first 12 seconds of the game. However, after that blunder, they looked strong the rest of the night. But, nobody, including them, could end this horrific scoring slump for the middle six and now the top line.
Here are 4 more observations from the Flyers 3-0 to the Wild…
Penalty Kill A Bright Spot
Even though it was only one penalty killed tonight, the penalty kill units for the Flyers continued their great play. This time they weren’t killing the penalty, they were generating offense.
The one penalty kill of the game was mostly in center ice and the Wild zone. This was because of great forechecking and puck protection through center ice.
This new style of penalty killing is something penalty kill coach Ian Laperriere has been teaching. The more aggressive style of one guy always chasing the puck makes it harder for a team to set up shop. The player always moving keeps the puck moving rather than keeping it stationary on one guys stick. Thus, creating more opportunity to steal the puck.
The Honey Bees
The Flyers 4th line, Leier-Laughton-Raffl, also known as the Honey Bees, have been the best energy line a team could ask for on a nightly basis. This line has been the most consistent line for the Flyers other than the top line. However, yes they haven’t been scoring, but anytime they have a shift, the ice flips the Flyers way.
“The second period we played some of our best hockey of the year.” Laughton said.
Tonight, the line got closer to getting their first goal together. The line generated a couple good chances during the game. None better than Raffl’s chance on the doorstep.
“Raffl makes a good play, hits his shoulder, its rolling, and hits his pad.” Laughton said. “Our line has three of those a game and nothing to show for it. Its frustrating.”
This is something that will come with time. If they can put together some scoring with their energy, they will be a force for the Flyers.
Elliott Continues Strong Play
On a night where the Flyers continued to struggle offensively, Brian Elliott continued his great goaltending as of late. The scoreline of the game doesn’t do any justice to how well Elliott played. Elliott only gave up 1 goal, stopping 17 of 18. The Wild added 2 empty net goals to boost the scoreline.
“You can’t get scored on that early, the first shift of the game.” Elliott said. “Then we are fighting from behind. You don’t want to do that ever. We got a game here in a couple of nights we can redeem ourselves here.”
The goal Elliott gave up was extremely early in the game. Just 12 seconds into the game to be exact. Ivan Provorov had the puck stolen in the corner. The puck made its way to the slot where the Wild scored. Elliott got handcuffed on the play and it the goal wasn’t all his fault.
“We pressed hard, we defended well.” Elliott said. “Its tough, sometimes when it rains it pours sometimes when you can’t score and its pouring on us a little bit right now.”
However, for the second game in the row only giving up one goal, the Flyers are wasting some of the best goaltending they have gotten all year not giving it some goal insurance on the other end.
For the second straight game and the fifth time this season, the Flyers were shutout. If you look closely, each one of the shutouts have something in common. They all have the opposing goalie taking over the game.
First, Jonathon Quick stopped all 35 shots he faced. He was the clear difference factor in that game. Second, Pekka Rinne stopped all 28 shots he faced. He wasn’t as dominant but made timely saves. Third, Corey Crawford stopped all 35 shots he faced. He stole the show on Wednesday night rivalry.
Now, the last two against the Wild, Devin Dubnyk has been the true star. Dubnyk, who stopped 32 of 32 Saturday, put in another stellar performance tonight stopping 30 of 30. Surprisingly, tonight was his better performance. Even though the Flyers didn’t have as many shots, there were more shots tonight deflected and in tight on Dubnyk.
“Our effort level was there.” Hakstol said. “The difference in the game was the second period when we couldn’t get one by him.”
Result : Flyers 0 – Wild 3
Record : 8 – 8 – 2
Next Game : Thursday 11/16 Winnipeg Jets, Winnipeg Canada
Mandatory Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports