Hat Trick: Three Things We Learned About the Flyers Against the Bruins

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With only two games left in the 2019 NHL Preseason, the Philadelphia Flyers still had roster questions that needed to be answered. In their second preseason battle against the Boston Bruins, Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault was ready to inspect his team and make tough decisions. That he did, sending several players back to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Following the 4-3 overtime loss to the Bruins, more than a few surprise cuts of on the cusp players were made. German Rubtsov, Mikhail Vorobyev, and Mark Friedman were loaned directly to the Phantoms, while Andy Andreoff, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Chris Bigras, and Kurtis Gabriel have to clear waivers to report to Lehigh Valley. Three prospects still have the opportunity to make Philadelphia’s roster. With one game left, against the New York Rangers, Vigneault has his hardest decisions yet to make.

Scoring opportunities were in favor of the Boston Bruins in the first period. That being said, Brian Elliott’s first period wasn’t bad. He did surrender a goal after Jakub Lauko passed off the boards to himself, evading Mark Friedman in the process. Lauko skated in on net untouched and beat Elliott top shelf. That shouldn’t have been the only goal that period, but Elliott seemed to have tightened up. Before the end of the period, James van Riemsdyk was able to pass to Travis Konecny in the slot, who tied the game.

Just as the first minute expired into the second period, the Philadelphia Flyers put themselves into a precarious position. The Boston Bruins almost immediately had a two-on-one breakaway against Philippe Myers. David Pastrnak was able to feed the pass uninterrupted to Brad Marchand for the one-timer goal. Brian Elliott was out of position and Marchand had a good look at more than half of the net. Connor Bunnaman had a lane to shoot on Tuukka Rask but was denied on two separate occasions. The Bruins were busier with the puck in this period, which played a role in them securing a lead again.

Beginning in the third period, Tuukka Rask was substituted by Daniel Vladar. In their previous preseason meeting, the Boston Bruins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, 3-1. Whatever Alain Vigneault and his staff said to the Flyers in the second intermission seemed to have worked, because Philadelphia came to play this period. The first impression in the final period of regulation is that the Flyers weren’t off to a flat start for a change in this game. The first two periods, they were. Carsen Twarynski showed the tenacity to play through the final whistle, forcing the puck into the net to tie the game at 2-2. Connor Bunnaman then converted a goal, be it by luck, deflecting off of Trent Frederic’s stick. Philadelphia took their first lead but ultimately couldn’t hang on. Just under two minutes left in regulation, Chris Wagner was able to undress Brian Elliott with a deke and score five-hole, forcing overtime.

In overtime, the Philadelphia Flyers far and away had the best scoring chance but were unable to convert. Shayne Gostisbehere led Kevin Hayes beautifully to create a breakaway, but Daniel Vladar was able to make a better save than Hayes shot. However, it was the Boston Bruins who would be able to take advantage of a powerplay in overtime. Brad Marchand put a wrist shot on net, originally saved by Brian Elliott. Elliott was not able to freeze the puck, which allowed a second effort slap on the puck by Jake DeBrusk, giving just enough momentum for the puck to cross into the net by a few inches. The play went to review and the call stood as made.

The Flyers Allow A Powerplay Goal

I wanted to see the Philadelphia Flyers complete preseason without giving up a powerplay goal. Sure, that could be an unrealistic expectation, but things were trending that way! It took overtime for the Boston Bruins to convert on their powerplay. In all, bravo to the penalty kills that the Flyers have displayed this preseason. I was convinced that they would head into their final preseason game against the New York Rangers with a perfect penalty kill, which made that game-winning goal by Jake DeBrusk more heartbreaking.

Mike Yeo has worked wonders with the Philadelphia Flyers penalty kill this preseason. When you are killing 93.3% of your penalties, that boils down to great coaching and great talent. Teams are 1-15 on the powerplay against the Flyers. Kevin Hayes has been a standout performer on the penalty kill.

Brian Elliott Could Be On Borrowed Time

After this overtime loss to the Boston Bruins, Alain Vigneault had choice words for Brian Elliott’s performance. Except for Brad Marchand’s one-timer early in the second period, Elliott needed to take away bad angles, be more patient, and stop allowing costly rebounds. Those other small things that he couldn’t get right in this game allowed three extra goals. Arguably, Chris Wagner’s goal was a tough one to save, but Elliott cannot be the first to lunge and leave the five-hole wide open. Alex Lyon is making the trip with the Philadelphia Flyers to Prague to face the Chicago Blackhawks. To be fair, I don’t think it is out of the realm of possibility that Vigneault is testing a goaltender battle to back up Carter Hart between Lyon and Elliott.

Travis Konecny, Carsen Twarynski, Chris Stewart, and Connor Bunnaman

Let’s just talk about these players in particular. I’m so excited that Travis Konecny is going to be a Philadelphia Flyer for the next six-years. He is just an offensive dynamo and scoring a goal against Tuukka Rask is just something that you love to see. Rask is a more than capable goaltender. The awareness showed on that particular goal by Konecny from a beautiful, quick feed from James van Riemsdyk shows me how great Konecny will be.

Then Carsen Twarynski continues to finish plays. He did it against the New York Rangers and he did it once more against the Boston Bruins. It makes me wonder if Twarynski would have played baseball in an alternate reality because he has been able to bunt those pucks into the back of the net with great control to avoid any high sticking penalty. He shows poise every night he is out on the ice and that is something Alain Vigneault is certainly searching for.

I’ve liked Chris Stewart all preseason and I hope he finds a role. He finds a way to make plays happen with his line, like the assist he recorded on Carsen Twarynski’s goal. He isn’t one to back down from throwing hands, which I think still has its place in hockey. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Philadelphia is a city that would embrace Stewart.

The engine that could was the engine that did against the Boston Bruins. Connor Bunnaman, by hook or by crook, made scoring chances happen in the second period, but Tuukka Rask came up big for the Bruins. Bunnaman showed a non-stop hustle on the ice and it paid off. A goal is a goal in the NHL, it doesn’t matter if it goes off the stick of a defender. Bunnaman stayed with the play, only trying to pass to Philippe Myers, but tallied a goal. Even better!

The Philadelphia Flyers finish preseason against the New York Rangers in New York on September 26th, 2019 at 7 pm.

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