Five Flyers Observations: Are the Flyers Going Streaking in Western Canada Again?

In game 2 of a quick 3-game western Canada road trip, the Flyers kept rolling and extended their win streak to 2. The Flyers defeated the Oilers in a similar dominating fashion to Monday’s win in Calgary.

This 2-game win streak has similar feelings to a stretch in the Flyers past in late 2013. Coming off the Christmas break, the Flyers went west to start a 5-game road trip and swept the three western Canadian teams to start the trip.

Tonight, the Flyers accomplished win #2 on the 3-game western Canada swing. With the win, it was also the Flyers first win in Edmonton since their victory on that win streak in 2013.

After giving up an early short-handed goal, the Flyers fought back hard and had a big end to the 2nd to take control of the game.

The victory was made possible by hard-work, determination, and a fight back that has been missing over the past month.  During the Flyers losing streak, once the Flyers got done, there was no fight back. Tonight, the Flyers fought back hard after getting behind. A fight, that shows this team might not be done yet.

Here are 4 observations from the Flyers 4-2 win over the Oilers…

 

Michael Raffl
A Flyer who was mute for the first 20 games of the season is now on fire. Michael Raffl is having a stretch that is jump starting a slow start to his season.

Raffl, coming into tonight with 3 goals in his last 6, added another goal last night on a break-away that was set up all by his great defensive play. Raffl now has goals in back-to-back games.

First, Raffl deflected a Kris Russell pass at the point. Then, Voracek found the puck and fed Raffl who beat Russell back out of the zone and beat Brossoit on a break-away for the goal.

A bump to Raffl’s confidence came when he was moved off the “Honey Bee” line. Raffl first was with Patrick. They played well together, but couldn’t help end the streak. It was when Raffl was out on the ice with Filppula that his play took off.

Raffl has benefited from playing with two pass-first guys. Since Hakstol broke up the 1st line, the line of, Raffl-Filppula-Voracek, he has 10 points combined in 2 games.

 

McDavid Shut Down Again
For the second time this season, the Flyers shut down one of the league’s best scorers, Connor McDavid.  McDavid came into the night with points in 3 of his last 4 games but had another night to forget against the Flyers. Yes, he did have an assist on the Oilers short-handed goal, however that was the only accomplishment of his night.

McDavid had an assist, 21:52 ice time, and 1 shot on goal. He was shut down by the whole Flyers team. Couturier was his biggest problem, who he faced the most, but all 4 of the Flyers lines had at least 2 shifts against McDavid tonight.

It was the same tactic the Flyers used in the 2-1 victory over the Oilers back in Philly. The Flyers used the “Honey Bee” line a ton against him in Philly and Laughton, the captain of the line, did a tremendous job against McDavid again tonight.

It was not just one individual who shut down McDavid. Coach Dave Hakstol used a team effort to hold McDavid in check again,  a strategy that has already worked once and might catch on to other teams on how to handle McDavid.

 

Powerplay Goal Finally
After 3 previous failures, the Flyers finally broke through on the powerplay. On the 4th powerplay of the night, the Flyers had a great sequence of passes that led to the goal. It was all set up by a Giroux cross ice pass through traffic to Couturier, who fed Weal in-front for the slam dunk.

This goal was huge for the Flyers. First, it tied the game. Second, it also ended a horrific streak for the Flyers powerplay units, who went just 3 for 23 before the goal. The goal will hopefully jump start the Flyers powerplay units and get back to the dominance they are known for.

 

Injuries
Earlier in the day, Flyers GM Ron Hextall announced that defenseman Brandon Manning and goalie Michal Neuvirth would miss time with injuries. Manning, who has been a solid 3rd pairing defenseman, will miss 3-4 weeks with an upper-body injury.  Neuvirth, who has struggled early this season, will miss 1-2 weeks with a lower-body injury. Both players were placed on IR.

With both players being placed on IR, the Flyers recalled AHL veteran defenseman TJ Brennan and 1st time call-up Alex Lyon to replace Manning and Neuvirth respectively on the roster. Brennan has faced his fair share of injuries with the Phantoms this year and has 2 goals and 13 assists through 17 games.  Lyon, who has been the Phantoms starter this season due to the season-ending knee surgery for Anthony Stolarz, has posted an 8-6-1 record with a 3.31 GA and a .894 SAV% in 16 starts.

Due to the injuries, it has allowed Mark Alt to return to the lineup. Alt is on his second recall of the season with the Flyers and played 6 games during his first call-up, catching the eye of his head coach Dave Hakstol and GM Ron Hextall.

“He’s been giving us a real solid 12 to 14 minutes a night.” Dave Hakstol said.

“We’re happy with the way Mark is playing right now; it’s a good fit.” Ron Hextall said.

Another domino to the call-ups, Will Alex Lyon make his NHL debut in Vancouver?  he injury to Neuvirth comes at a bad time for the Flyers, who are in the middle of back-to-back games. That question will be answered on how Coach Dave Hakstol feels goalie Brian Elliott faired in tonight’s game.

 

Result : Flyers 4 – Oilers 2, WIN

Record : 10 – 11 – 7

Next Game : 12 / 7 Vancouver Canucks, Vancouver British Columbia Canada 10 pm EST

 

Mandatory Photo Credit: Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP

Flyers reporter for Philly Sports Network
Neumann Knights ~ Retired College Athlete
“Dont blame the messenger”

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