Murphy’s Law says that “anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” In saying that, it describes Carter Hart’s performance in net. There were flashes of his effort against Lausanne HC just before the Philadelphia Flyers took on the Chicago Blackhawks in Prague, Czech Republic. Just past the halfway point in the second period, Hart was pulled from the net by Alain Vigneault in favor of Brian Elliott. Ladies and gentlemen who bleed orange and black, tonight was ugly. Strap in.
I went to grab a beer and start laundry before puck drop and shame on me, I was about two minutes late to the party. Turns out that it’s preferred to be fashionably late tonight because the Edmonton Oilers found themselves on the scoreboard with the first shot they took. Leon Draisaitl’s goal not only beat me to the television, but it beat Carter Hart just inside the post. It’s one goal, so there’s no need to panic. The Philadelphia Flyers just needed to answer and that they did. Jakub Voracek finally got on the board this season with a powerplay goal to tie the game. Mikko Koskinen left a juicy rebound for Voracek to bury in the back of the net. Before the end of the first period, the Oilers took control back with an open wrist shot from the slot by Ethan Bear. These two goals this period are off shots that we are used to seeing Hart save this season.
Down by a goal at the end of the first period, the Philadelphia Flyers were still in the game. This is when the Flyers decided to follow Murphy’s Law. A lob pass sent down the ice in the Philadelphia defensive zone had all the opportunity in the world to be cleared out by Justin Braun. Conor McDavid, who was trailing Braun by a couple of strides, beat Braun to the puck and gave just enough force on a wrist shot to score on Carter Hart. This was a scoring opportunity that should have never existed. A little bit of hustle from Braun would have wiped this scoring chance off the board. No more than two minutes later, the Edmonton Oilers were on the powerplay and extended their lead with a wrist shot from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. It was at this time that Carter Hart would be pulled from the game.
Brian Elliott enters the game and the Edmonton Oilers are still on the powerplay. As the penalty kill looked dazed and confused on the ice, Elliott was doing all he could to freeze the puck. On this particular scoring play from Leon Draisaitl, the puck was dislodged from under Elliott’s pad just before the play could be ruled dead. As the puck was dislodged, Elliott couldn’t locate it and Draisaitl tallied his second goal of the game. The goal was reviewed and the play stood as called, which I agree with.
Down big, headed into the final period of play, the Philadelphia Flyers needed a comeback that would make the San Jose Sharks from last year’s playoffs blush. It wasn’t going to happen as the Edmonton Oilers would score again, this time off the stick of a former Flyer, Brandon Manning. If this isn’t pouring salt into the wound, I’m not sure what is. Late in the third period, Jakub Voracek would get some offense going for Philadelphia again. This time, Voracek took a slap shot from the blue line that would be deflected in off the stick of Oskar Lindblom. About two minutes later, Voracek would tally his second goal of the night with a one-timer from the faceoff circle on a powerplay. The late efforts in the third period didn’t serve many purposes as the final from Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta was in favor of the Oilers, 6-3.
Carter Hart Had An Awful Game
As a disclaimer, no one had a good game for the Philadelphia Flyers. However, Carter Hart looked like he did when the Flyers were surprised by Lausanne HC in their exhibition game. The first two goals of the game were ones that Hart should have had since he had a clean look at those shots coming in. The third goal allowed belongs on the shoulders of Justin Braun because his lack of hustle left Hart hanging out to dry from that close of range against a dangerous player like Conor McDavid. At last, the fourth goal allowed by Hart was on an Edmonton Oilers powerplay. It’s hard to place that squarely on Hart because of the man-disadvantage. The speed on the Oilers offense killed the defense of the Flyers during even-strength hockey and more so on the powerplay.
A Lack of Hustle
I’m emphasizing the Philadelphia Flyers defense because of how out of the position they were on two powerplay goals surrendered this game. The first while Carter Hart was in the net. Matt Niskanen was late to his slide when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins received the puck. Had there been more of a read and react approach versus puck watching, I think Hart would have had a better opportunity at a save on a tougher look from the Edmonton Oilers.
The second powerplay goal was against Brian Elliott, who was practically left on an island, trying to freeze the puck. Matt Niskanen, Travis Sanheim, and Scott Laughton had a good look at the possession or lack thereof, Elliott had on the puck. Conor McDavid was able to steal the puck back from four Philadelphia Flyers players and pass behind the back to Leon Draisaitl for that powerplay goal. All of that should have been avoided with the slightest defensive awareness.
Then there is a play that irked my soul from Justin Braun. If you are practically at the puck and Conor McDavid is striding in, get the puck out of dodge away from your goaltender. It’s an easy strategy. Instead, the lack of hustle was evident and McDavid made him pay before making Carter Hart pay. It was at the time that goal happened when I realized the kind of runaway game this was turning into. There wasn’t urgency on defense to help Hart on a night where he struggled to begin with.
Jakub Voracek Is Alive
I am going to find a positive out of all of this. The offense didn’t consist of only Oskar Lindblom and Travis Konecny. Konecny had a silent night in Edmonton. While Lindblom did get the deflection goal, it counted as an assist for Jakub Voracek. Tally that with his two powerplay goals and we see a resurgence from a veteran on offense for a change this season. If Voracek can do this, that means I need to see more from Claude Giroux, Kevin Hayes, and James van Riemsdyk.
Next, the Philadelphia Flyers are back home at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania hosting the Dallas Stars. This game takes place on Saturday, October 19th at 7:00 pm.
Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports