Thursday night told the tale of two statistics, the shot count and the score. The Flyers played some of the best hockey they have all year against a Maple Leafs side that had won just two in their last ten coming into the matchup, but it wasn’t enough.
The first two periods had fans scratching their heads as much as coach Berube. In a nine minute phase, the Flyers were into double figures on the shot count whilst the Maple Leafs were stuck on one…one shot.
Berube made the decision to bring a questionably unfit Mason into the game. Another moment that had fans screaming at their televisions. The veteran goaltender had already announced in an interview earlier on in the day that it feels like he hasn’t skated in a couple of weeks. In a game where a victory should come easy, is this really a game you want to risk re injuring a recovering top goalie? Berube obviously thought so as a 75% Mason stumbled into the goal mouth to try and bring Philly back into it.
Going into the third period, the Flyers had an almighty mountain to climb. That climb was to be unassisted by Simmonds in the first two minutes who sat the opening pair of minutes out for a very bizarre penalty. Despite making some great centering plays, they just couldn’t find a way through. The Broadstreet boys finally got themselves on the score sheet during the transition between a 5 on 3 power play and a 5 on 4. It was Captain Claude who further added to his already impressive points tally this season to give the Flyers a glimmer of hope. Another power play was initiated a few moments later, this time Brayden Schenn delivered the goods to send the Flyers within one.
Mason was sent packing with just under two minutes to go as the Flyers threw everything they had at Toronto with an empty net. A career record of 45 saves for leafs goaltender Bernier earned the points for his team on the night as he fought bravely against what can only be described as an onslaught.
Whilst the teams performance was excellent, the fact is this is ninth loss in fourteen against teams who are not in the race for the playoffs. Philly came into this game four points behind Boston and this was seen as an easy victory. Any other night against almost any other team, a performance like that would earn you at least a three goal lead. But another opportunity missed leaves time running out and a sense of panic for Captain Claude and his men. Are the Flyers still in the hunt for the playoffs? We will evaluate this more closely later today.