The Philadelphia Flyers concluded their five game home stand with a 2-1 overtime win against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday afternoon. After getting shut out on Monday against St. Louis, and then losing on Thursday against the division and wild card rival New York Islanders, this was a must win as they now head on the road to Western Canada for their next three. They finish the home stand with a disappointing 2-2-1 record.
Saturday’s win against the Sharks was vital after being shutout two of the last three games, losing all three. The Flyers most valuable player and All-Star Wayne Simmonds first career overtime goal gave the Flyers their first win in over a week. They dominated the first period outshooting the Sharks 14-4, although they left the period scoreless. The goaltending and defense has improved as they only allowed six goals in the three games this week.
The Flyers only scored six goals during the five game home stand. Scoring has been virtually invisible for the Flyers. Three goals in three games is simply not going to get it done, which makes the recent benchings of Shayne Gostisbehere and Travis Konecney even more puzzling. Jake Voracek has not scored in seven and captain Claude Giroux is scoreless in eight. The orange and black scored on six goals over their five game home stand. They are fortunate to gain five of ten possible points.
Coach Dave Hakstol’s decision to bench the second year Gostisbehere and rookie Konecney have to be questioned. Everyone can see that Gostisbehere is not having the kind of season he did as a rookie, but sitting your top offensive defenseman because he is a defensive liability does not make sense. He brings far more to the game than every other defenseman not named Ivan Provorov. He is fast, plays the point on the power play, and is a dangerous offensive weapon when he is on the ice. Those same arguments can be made for Konecney. He is fast and dangerous with the puck on his stick and those are two qualities that very few of the Flyers have. Unfortunately, he is out for at least the next month with a knee injury.
The Flyers struggle on the road as their 10-13-3 road record indicates. That makes this trip to Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver even more important. They historically struggle out west and they are playing three teams that all possess something the Flyers struggle with, and that’s speed.
The Flames have New Jersey native Johnny Gaudreau, the Oilers have arguably the best and fastest player in the league in Connor McDavid, and the Canucks still have the Sedin brothers Daniel and Henrik that give the Flyers fits. The Flyers have 26 games remaining, they are fighting for their playoff lives as every team in the Eastern Conference has a shot at the postseason. They no longer control their own destiny as teams that are chasing them, the Islanders and Panthers, both have games in hand. But if they play the way they are supposed to play, find the back of the net on a regular basis and get the solid goaltending they have been getting, they will be playing past April 9.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports