Before the beginning of this game, the Philadelphia Flyers seemed like they would match up to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Brian Elliott got the start for the Flyers in the net in a head to head battle against a stellar goaltender, Matt Murray. With the effort that Elliott had been showing, there was a feeling of confidence among Philadelphia. Very quickly, that all went out the door. It’s fitting that this game against the Penguins was during the Halloween season because it was the scariest thing I’ve watched in October.
In front of a sellout crowd at the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Pittsburgh Penguins dominated the Philadelphia Flyers and showed no ounce of mercy. Rivalry hockey brought out 18,560 fans but failed to consistently have six players in orange and black show up at the same time on the ice. Two focal players on the Penguins were productive in the first period. Sidney Crosby had one assist and one goal while Kris Letang was also credited with an assist. Justin Schultz, Jared McCann, and Dominik Simon scored goals in less than three minutes before Crosby added his before the first intermission.
After the way the first period played out, I was ready for Alain Vigneault to pull the trigger and replace Brian Elliott with Carter Hart. Much like the first period, the Pittsburgh Penguins scored multiple goals very quickly in the second period. This time, it was at a more alarming rate. Jake Guentzel and Zach Aston-Reese scored two goals in twenty seconds. The Penguins possessed the puck all night, the Philadelphia Flyers didn’t play sound defense, and Elliott took it all on the chin for two-period straight.
Going into the third period, down 6-0, the Philadelphia Flyers were just trying to end Matt Murray’s shutout bid. If there was a silver lining during this game, it was the Flyers being able to score one goal this game. That goal came from a Sean Couturier dish to Oskar Lindblom to salvage some dignity for Philadelphia. In the third period, Carter Hart was substituted in for Brian Elliott. Hart did play well in the third period but allowed a goal by Dominik Kahun. The final in Pittsburgh was in favor of the Pittsburgh Penguins, 7-1.
It’s not fair to sit back and say that this loss is on Brian Elliott. He has been the Philadelphia Flyers workhorse goaltender for the past week, picking up where Carter Hart hasn’t been able to stand in. I would bet that Elliott is experiencing some fatigue from the extended play. However, the first goal of the game is a tough pill to swallow. The goals in the second period are even tougher.
Quality Teams Need To Face A Quality Defense
Tonight, one pairing that caught my eye as something that should be avoided was Shayne Gostisbehere and Robert Hagg. It was only a few games ago that I was praising these two. That was during the Chicago Blackhawks win. The Pittsburgh Penguins are superior to the Blackhawks. Against quality teams, players cannot be roaming openly in the offensive zone.
Jared McCann and Dominik Simon did just that as they muscled goals right by Brian Elliott in a short amount of time in the first period. I have praised Robert Hagg for being the most physical player on the Philadelphia Flyers defense this season, but he leaves players open often and there were multiple moments last night where Hagg prioritized getting a hit over protecting his zone. He’s becoming a liability when he does that and the +/- shows. Shayne Gostisbehere is a position defenseman with offensive tendencies. Alain Vigneault should be running a heavy rotation of defensive drills in the defensive zone and transition drills leading up to Friday’s game versus the New Jersey Devils.
One positive to take home from this game is that Carter Hart looked more comfortable between the pipes during the third period. One goal scored on him by Dominik Kahun had Hart out of position with a backdoor assist. Aside from that, he made himself bigger to take away shooting angles and regained confidence. I would have put Hart in at the beginning of the second period, but the Philadelphia Flyers were never in a position to salvage much. On Friday, Hart is the goaltender that I would start against the New Jersey Devils especially considering he posted his first professional shutout against this very team.
Next, the Philadelphia Flyers are at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey against the New Jersey Devils. This game takes place on Friday, November 1st at 7:00 pm. Thank you for reading and be sure to give a follow for more Flyers coverage at EricReesePSN on Twitter and Instagram!