Let’s make sure that we are on the same page about something. This Philadelphia Flyers hockey club is a good team. They’re good, but not great. With what youth has blossomed on this team, a few big parts of this team wilt in the crossfire. The Flyers have had the opportunity to knock the contenders in the Metropolitan Division off their pedestal this week, but continue to fall short.
It’s easy to look at the body of work recently and be happy that the Philadelphia Flyers get a point in a loss or win in a shootout. Life for a Flyers faithful shouldn’t be so rough. When Philadelphia wins, opponents are keeping a share of the pot with a point. To gain ground in the NHL and be considered a legitimate contender, points cannot be left on the board for your opponent. Great teams are selfish with their regulation wins.
On Saturday, the Philadelphia Flyers hosted the blazing hot New York Islanders. The Islanders, now in the middle of a 14 game point streak, should have been extinguished. They weren’t because the Flyers haven’t secured what it means to be great. What it means to be great is finishing an opponent off. To sell this team to Philadelphia as contenders, the Flyers have to close in regulation.
“We played great in the first period. We had a three nothing lead and we should have to win this game. It’s a great team on the other side.” That is what Oskar Lindblom said when asked about the Philadelphia Flyers struggling to close on opponents. The first period was the strongest of the game for the Flyers. Two goals were scored, one on the powerplay and Philadelphia was dictating the flow of the game.
It isn’t lost on the players or coach the importance of not only this game against the New York Islanders but Wednesday’s against the Washington Capitals. “We have to bounce back. We need to win, so we need to let this game go” said Oskar Lindblom. In the NHL, a short memory is required because the mentality is “on to the next one.” Brian Elliott said, “We just got to close out games.” Most of the collapses fall on poor execution of clearing the puck out, turning the puck over in the neutral zone, and getting too comfortable with a lead.
Anthony Beauvillier and Mathew Barzal accounted for three goals in the third period to send the game into overtime for the New York Islanders. During those goals, Alain Vigneault pointed out that those were communication lapses on the defense. Robert Hagg was a late substitution on the active lineup against the Islanders, benching Philippe Myers. While Hagg has been physical when playing this season, he was late on the line change when Beauvillier scored his first goal of the game. Vigneault was asked if Myers was benched due to injury, to which he responded, “Not injured.”
An impressive amount of hockey games have gone into overtime or a shootout for the Philadelphia Flyers this season. Fatigue was a discussed topic after the New York Islanders game regarding the schedule, travel, and overtime games. “There’s no excuse from this group. You got a game to play, you got to go out and play it. At the end of the day, it is a challenging schedule. Not making any excuses, the schedule is what it is,” said Alain Vigneault.
For the Philadelphia Flyers to be great, they need to play three full periods of quality hockey on a routine basis. That is the common trend between two recent losses against the Ottawa Senators and the New York Islanders. The second period against the Senators is when Ottawa scored all of their goals to win. It was the third period against the Islanders. If mistakes are cleaned up for two periods, the Flyers add four points instead of just one in two games.
Next, the Philadelphia Flyers are at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida against the Florida Panthers. This game takes place on Tuesday, November 19th at 7:00 pm. Be sure to give a follow for more Flyers coverage at EricReesePSN on Twitter and follow Philly Sports Network at PhiladelphiaSN!
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports