After dropping the first two games to the New York Islanders, the Philadelphia Flyers find themselves 0-1-1 in preseason hockey and shipping up to Boston to face off against the Boston Bruins. In those first two games, the Flyers saw some moments of brilliance from young players such as Philippe Myers, Chris Bigras, and Alex Lyon. Tonight, eyes are focused on Joel Farabee on a line with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, as well as Morgan Frost on a line with James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek. The always tough Bruins walked onto their home ice tonight with a 0-0-1 record this preseason, only losing to the New Jersey Devils in overtime. Starting in net tonight for Boston would be Jaroslav Halak, splitting time with Maxime Legace. For Philadelphia, Brian Elliott would start in goal, splitting time with Alex Lyon.
The Philadelphia Flyers had more than a few scoring chances in the first period. The first was on a two-on-zero breakaway with Andy Andreoff and Morgan Frost. Frost led the rush on the left side and got the pass from Andreoff, but Jaroslav Halak was able to make one of may good saves on the night. Frost, who is making a case to be on the Flyers roster, was a victim of grand larceny on a Philadelphia powerplay. Halak made a beautiful, acrobatic save to take away what could have been a powerplay goal. Sean Couturier and Joel Farabee set up a good opportunity on the crease to score, but Halak played the post perfectly. Another scoring chance came off the stick of Kyle Criscuolo, who I have enjoyed watching in these preseason games. Criscuolo attempted a wrap-around shot, but it wasn’t meant to beat Halak. Danton Heinen gave the Boston Bruins the early lead, but Matt Niskanen would tie the game back up, 1-1.
Scoring chances weren’t as affluent for the Philadelphia Flyers in the second period because the Boston Bruins focused on defense. Complimenting the defensive play of the Bruins, Boston was able to hang another goal on the scoreboard when Peter Cehlarik beat Brian Elliott. Cehlarik created just enough distance between himself and Philippe Myers to convert a point-blank one-timer goal. Elliott would then be substituted for Alex Lyon and Jaroslav Halak was substituted for Maxime Legace. In the second period, the Flyers had opportunities to score on the powerplay, but those struggles continued. No Philadelphia powerplay goals would be tallied against the Bruins.
The Boston Bruins led 2-1, going into the third period. Early on in the period, Justin Braun deflected just enough of a point-blank shot from David Backes to get the puck to float above the net and into Alex Lyon’s glove. Shayne Gostisbehere had two more opportunities within about five seconds to get the Philadelphia Flyers tied, 2-2, but was unable to score. His first shot went off of the goalpost and the second shot was Maxime Legace’s highlight save after a great pass from Morgan Frost. The momentum stayed in Boston’s corner after Connor Clifton scored a breakaway goal out of the penalty box. While the Flyers penalty kill remained perfect, the Bruins were able to win the even-strength battles all game. The final score was in favor of Boston, 3-1.
Morgan Frost Makes A Strong Case
He was everywhere tonight and almost had a very fruitful evening against a good hockey team. I am still in awe of Jaroslav Halak’s save against him on a Philadelphia Flyers powerplay. Frost seemed to be busy in the first period, almost syncing up with Andy Andreoff for a two-on-zero breakaway goal. He has the awareness to be ready for these scoring chances and a knack of crashing the net at the right times. It will only be a matter of time before Frost lights the lamp in an arena near you. He’s also shown this game that he has great vision to be a playmaker, such as his pass to Shayne Gostisbehere on another scoring opportunity in the third period.
The Flyers Powerplay Isn’t Powerful
Truth be told, it has been non-existent. I am aware that the scoring chance from Morgan Frost was on the powerplay, but it was just that: a scoring chance. Those chances and opportunities need to be converted into goals. That is one of the main reasons as to why the Philadelphia Flyers have struggled to win games in the past couple of seasons. While the penalty kill has largely been the strongest asset for the Flyers in this preseason, Philadelphia could be on the winning side of a game right now if it wasn’t because of these powerplay struggles.
The majority of the goals have come from screened shots at the blue line. Chris Bigras had a good night against the New York Islanders, recording an assist and a goal from the blue line. Matt Niskanen had a goal from the blue line against the Boston Bruins. This is a formula that can and should be duplicated in a higher volume of shots on the powerplay. The next time the Philadelphia Flyers go on the “Peco Powerplay” at the Wells Fargo Center, I want it to have meaning!
Alain Vigneault’s Faith In Shayne Gostisbehere
If there is any player on the Philadelphia Flyers defense that needs to show up this year, it is Shayne Gostisbehere. We are years removed since he showed the Flyers fanbase what he was able to do in his rookie season. I would guess that Philadelphia may have forgotten. Alain Vigneault wants to revitalize Gostisbehere and I couldn’t be any more excited. He’s shown that he can be a good two-way defender in the NHL and is an actual scoring threat to opposing teams. It was a matter of inches between the puck and the back of the net when Gostisbehere’s shot rang off of the goalpost in the third period. Almost immediately after, Morgan Frost set up Gostisbehere again, but Legace closed down the angle to the net.
Alain Vigneault and Shayne Gostisbehere’s relationship should be one to keep a tab on if you are watching Gostisbehere’s progression in 2019. Part of me believes that Gostisbehere was mentally checked out when Dave Hakstol was the Philadelphia Flyers head coach because I am seeing a new hustle in these preseason games. Sacrificing his body with a dive to disrupt a passing lane against the New York Islanders was nice to see in preseason. If Gostisbehere can keep this poise, the Flyers defense and offensive will improve when he is on the ice. If he doesn’t, players like Philippe Myers would love his roster spot.
The Philadelphia Flyers continue the preseason against the New York Rangers in Philadelphia on September 21st, 2019 at 7pm.
Mandatory Photo Credit: Matt Slocum/AP Photo