The Hat Trick: What we learned about Flyers in preseason finale

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The NHL regular season is approaching in about twenty-four hours, but the Philadelphia Flyers debut against the Chicago Blackhawks on October 4th. Before that Global Series game against the Blackhawks, the Flyers would play Lausanne HC in a global exhibition game. The purpose of this game was for Philadelphia to get ready for their game against Chicago on October 4th after flying overseas to Switzerland. This was officially the last game that Alain Vigneault had to view the younger players before making the starting lineup before the Blackhawks game. Lausanne HC hosted the game against the Flyers from Vaudoise Arena, which is their brand new arena. Their crowd was electric and there were plenty of chants to go around as Lausanne HC was looking for their first win in their new home.

Carter Hart got the start in goal for the Philadelphia Flyers and Tobias Stephan started for Lausanne HC. Some of the crowd were wearing Flyers memorabilia, showing their fandom for the NHL franchise. At Vaudoise Arena, the crowd was hot, Lausanne HC played with a fury, and Philadelphia was flat in the first period. It seemed like the Flyers underestimated Lausanne HC in this game, being on the defensive often. Yannick Herren put a shot on net, at first saved by Carter Hart. Hart let up a rebound on that shot, which was followed up by Herren for the first goal of the game. Minutes later, Lausanne HC would go on the powerplay and convert against the highly touted Philadelphia penalty kill. Cory Emmerton scored a powerplay goal, using Ivan Provorov as a screen on a wrist shot. Before the end of the first period, Lausanne HC scored again. Directly off the faceoff, Joel Genazzi put a slap shot on net that found its way past Hart.

In the second period, the Philadelphia Flyers were shell-shocked. To get on the scoreboard, Jakub Voracek seemed like he was going to go on a breakaway, but Tobias Stephan left far out of his net and beat Voracek to the puck to neutralize the threat. It was evident on offense and defense that Lausanne HC was hustling harder than the Flyers. Philadelphia would be shorthanded again and Lausanne HC capitalized. Joel Vermin was open in the slot and converted the one-timer, powerplay goal. Alain Vigneault would then pull Carter Hart after allowing four goals, substituting in Brian Elliott. The Flyers would finally get on the scoreboard when Claude Giroux tapped in a rebound set up by Travis Konecny. Before the end of the second period, Lausanne HC pulled Tobias Stephan and substituted Luca Boltshauser.

Still down by three goals in the third period, the Philadelphia Flyers had an opportunity to close the gap. Claude Giroux had a chance to score on a penalty shot but lost the handle on the puck. Luca Boltshauser didn’t make an early move and Giroux attempted one too many dekes. No shot was taken on a penalty shot, which was exactly how Giroux’s opportunity looked against Henrik Lundqvist in the final preseason game shootout.

Later in the third period, Connor Bunnaman scored in a crowded crease. Robert Hagg put a shot on goal and Bunnaman handled the puck just enough to swipe in a goal as he fell to the ice. Another good scoring opportunity was missed when Travis Sanheim’s shot went wide of an open net.

Brian Elliott skated off the ice to give the Philadelphia Flyers a six-on-five man advantage on offense. Jakub Voracek put a shot on goal that was hacked at on a rebound by Carsen Twarynski. While that second effort didn’t result in a goal, the puck had enough movement to find Sean Couturier so the third effort converted a goal. The Flyers seemed to put things together in the third period, though scoring chances were missed to at least tie the game. Lausanne HC would win in regulation, 4-3, gaining their first win in Vaudoise Arena against an NHL franchise.

The Flyers Need To Fix The Slow Starts

Playing from behind is something that the Philadelphia Flyers always seem to do. It’s not an effective way to play, evident by last season, this preseason, and lately, this global exhibition against Lausanne HC. Watching this game and seeing the Flyers go down to a four-goal deficit was something that no one thought was going to happen. Most fans thought that Philadelphia was going to come in and just flat out win against Lausanne HC. I know I did and I am still hoodwinked by the performance. This Flyers team is better than the performance against Lausanne HC. However, if that was your first time watching Philadelphia hockey, it was embarrassing.

The Philadelphia Offense Needs to Be Tighter and Simpler

Turning over the puck in the offensive zone is something that cannot be tolerated. It’s a constant across any sport. You cannot win games if you lose the turnover battle. In the first period, that’s mostly what happened. Turnovers were lost, rebounds were given up on shots that should have been saved, and Lausanne HC proved to be mightly effective on offense by doing simple things. Clean passes, setting up offensive play schemes, and taking open shots is all you ask of any hockey offense. Lausanne HC did that and jumped out to a three-goal lead by the end of the first period.

There isn’t a reason to be cute with the puck on offense. You don’t get any extra points on the scoreboard for a razzle-dazzle play. All of the Philadelphia Flyers’ goals this game came from second and third efforts. Lausanne HC made the Flyers work for everything. Trying too many dekes on a penalty shot, when that was the exact reason he couldn’t get a shot off in a recent shootout, is inexcusable from Claude Giroux. As a top scorer and playmaker on this team, he needs to make sure those are converted. If he scored there, Philadelphia would have tied Lausanne HC.

Brian Elliott Looked Good In Backup Role

One good takeaway from this performance was what I saw from Brian Elliott between the pipes. After Alain Vigneault was not happy about what he saw from Elliott in the preseason, I think Elliott secured his role to back up Hart in this regular season. Previously, I thought an argument could be made in favor of Alex Lyon, but after watching how Elliott rebounded in this performance on the ice, I stand by “Moose.” He took on the same kind of scoring looks that Carter Hart did against Lausanne HC and didn’t surrender any goals in more ice time.

The Philadelphia Flyers open the regular season against the Chicago Blackhawks in Prague, Czech Republic for the NHL Global Series on October 4th, 2019 at 2 pm from the O2 Arena.

Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

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