Yet another game far from home for the Philadelphia Flyers early this season showed that they had difficulty getting off to an early start. Like in their shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks, the Flyers weren’t able to have a lead in this game against the Calgary Flames. Unlike their loss to the Canucks, the Flames were able to put away Philadelphia in regulation. Both goals surrendered by Brian Elliott in this game were in situations where there was traffic obscuring his opportunity to score. The first goal, Justin Braun was slightly tangled up with Elliott’s leg. The other goal deflected off of Travis Sanheim. The final from the Scotiabank Saddledome is in favor of Calgary, 3-1.
About a minute and a half into the first period, Michael Frolik scored an even-strength goal for the Calgary Flames. He took the shot on net and Brian Elliott’s mobility was slightly hindered because Justin Braun was positioned right on top of him, tripping him up slightly. Up to this point, the Philadelphia Flyers had a tough time keeping on their skates. This led to a turnover and a shot on goal that was converted by Frolik for the unassisted goal. In this period, the Flyers had the opportunity to make something happen on the powerplay but kept shooting themselves in the foot by committing their penalties, nullifying powerplay chances. In the final seconds of the first period, a Flames goal was waived off the scoreboard by the NHL officials after a distinct kicking motion was detected.
The next period felt like more of the same as the Philadelphia Flyers kept playing back on their heels. The shots on goal at the end of the first period favored the Calgary Flames, 13-10. There was more icing in the second half than a birthday cake from the Flyers, which stifled their offensive possession to apply pressure in the offensive zone. Again, the Flames were able to capitalize in the second period with another goal, this time from Andrew Mangiapane on an even-strength chance. There wasn’t much that Brian Elliott could do on this shot as the puck changed speeds off an odd deflection. Going into the third period, not only was Calgary up 2-0, but they also expanded on their shots on goal margin, 26-16.
I imagine that Alain Vigneault emphasizes the idea that registering only six shots in a period, giving up possessions on icing calls, and playing defense while down by two goals was not the strategy for the third period. To the credit of the Philadelphia Flyers, they did show up for the third period, but it was all too little, too late. Matt Niskanen did tally his first goal in a Flyers sweater on a backdoor feed from Travis Konecny. Down by one goal for most of the period, Philadelphia did surrender an empty-net goal with less than thirty seconds to play in regulation. David Rittich played a great game in net, stopping valid scoring chances from James van Riemsdyk in the first period and Kevin Hayes in the third period.
The Offense Is Coming From The Same Skaters
I sound like a broken record in these first four games so far this season because the points on offense continue to come skaters like Travis Konecny and Matt Niskanen. It’s been the source of energy for the Philadelphia Flyers powerplay this season and it’s the same story against the Calgary Flames. More than halfway through this game, Konecny was completely shut down by the Flames. It wasn’t until the scoring play where he registered an assist that he was remotely active. That says a lot about a team’s leading scorer facing a defensive front.
The offense has to come from multiple outlets so lines aren’t one dimensional. In this game, the Philadelphia Flyers seemed to play as if they are just a one-trick pony. We’re still waiting to see production from players such as James van Riemsdyk, Jakub Voracek, Claud Giroux, and Kevin Hayes. Those four are superstar names on this team, however, the offense lives between Travis Konecny, Oskar Lindblom, and Matt Niskanen primarily.
Brian Elliott Played Well As A Back-Up
He was peppered all night by the Calgary Flames when the Philadelphia Flyers defense allowed shots on net and the Flames offense to set up good scoring chances. Two unfortunate goals happened to come from a deflection and a busy crease. That’s what you want from a scoring offense, so hats off to Calgary. You hate to see it when it happens to your goaltender, especially when your defenders can’t seem to get out of the way. Elliott did stop 35 of 37 shots tonight between the pipes. The empty-net goal will not count against those statistics because Elliott was on the Flyers bench.
The Flyers Need to Get Creative On Offense
You cannot gather any momentum on offense when the vast majority of possessions are turned over on icing calls. The Philadelphia Flyers have the faceoff players to make possessions in the offensive zone, but when a team is playing defense for the majority of three periods, it’s hard to not be behind.
The drawing and dumping of the puck to create a forecheck seem like a great philosophy for a team full of skaters that are effective at getting in the dirty areas and being physical. That just wasn’t how things were progressing for the Philadelphia Flyers against the Calgary Flames. It seemed like each time the Flyers attempted to settle a forecheck, the puck was being bumped back into the neutral zone before possession was given up for a line change.
Players like Travis Konecny, Michael Raffl, and Jakub Voracek love going behind the net to look for a cutting player. So, by all means, get some movement and chemistry going on the offensive unit. All the best offenses are constantly crashing the net, handling good passes, and taking good shots. When all three of those things aligned just once tonight for the Philadelphia Flyers, Matt Niskanen had a goal.
Next, the Philadelphia Flyers are away against the Edmonton Oilers. This game takes place on Wednesday, October 16th at 9:30 pm live from Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta.
Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports