Previously winners of five straight games, the Philadelphia Flyers skated onto their home ice to host the Arizona Coyotes. They were favored on the money-line spreads, which is usually a sign for a trap in this wild world of Philadelphia sports. Even though the Flyers weren’t on the favorable side of the goaltender matchup, the underdog mantra was lifted. In the corner of the Coyotes was Darcy Kuemper, a current Vezina Award candidate. If Philadelphia wanted to live up to being the “favorites” in this game, they needed to be dialed-in and execute their gameplan.
A handful of minutes went by in the first period and the Flyers didn’t look pretty. “Captain” Claude Giroux served two penalties in the first period. Already, the execution was a fleeting premise. If the team captain is playing without discipline, it handicaps the team’s performance. That is exactly what happened when Phil Kessel scored his first powerplay goal of the evening, getting enough of a pass to poke the puck past Brian Elliott.
On the penalty kill, there was a lack of execution. I would argue that in the first five minutes of this game, there was a lack of effort. Before your coffee could be cool enough to drink, the Arizona Coyotes were up a goal and the Philadelphia Flyers looked lethargic on the first penalty kill shift. Brian Elliott had to cover ground on that goal from Phil Kessel but nearly made the save. Elliott stated, “It’s frustrating on their first entry on the powerplay, we know that’s one of their tendencies, and we still let it beat us. I got to come up with a save there.”
Those crucial five minutes were a catalyst for being in a hole against Darcy Kuemper, who is playing the best hockey of his career so far this season. When playing a goaltender who is posting Vezina Award statistics, you cannot lapse in execution or effort. The next 55 minutes of this game were full of effort from the Philadelphia Flyers. The script changes when you are down a goal early on. Chances were there to tie the game in the second period, but Kuemper was playing on par with his talent this season.
Joel Farabee stated, “I think we had a lot of chances, I really don’t think this game is anything we need to worry about. I thought we actually played pretty well for a full sixty.” The tone is that the Philadelphia Flyers aren’t bothered by their performance against the Arizona Coyotes. In a losing effort, they did provide a valiant effort. Matt Niskanen echoed these sentiments, commenting on the mental aspect about adjusting before facing the Ottawa Senators; “Recognize what we did well and adjust a couple of things we need to improve on and get ready for the next one.”
We would all be looking at this through rose-colored lenses if we didn’t expect a few growing pains after Michael Raffl’s broken finger. Line changes can imbalance synergy between players, which leaves room for commentary about some missed opportunities on the powerplay and lapses on the penalty kill. Both suffered as the Philadelphia Flyers were 50% on the penalty kill and 0% on the powerplay against the Arizona Coyotes. In Raffl’s absence, Joel Farabee saw his time increase on the penalty kill. Morgan Frost was used in an expanded role on the powerplay.
Jakub Voracek commented on the powerplay execution against the Arizona Coyotes, “Right now, I think it’s kind of, we’re not sure were to go one hundred percent. That’s, I think, the problem, one guy doesn’t go the other guy has no idea what to do.” Alain Vigneault is making some lineup changes and carried seven defensemen on the active roster against the Coyotes. Synergy is going to take a couple of rounds to take effect, which adversely affected the powerplay unit.
To put the exclamation point on the feeling after this home loss against the Arizona Coyotes, Alain Vigneault put it eloquently:
“What we’re going to do is analyze this game, make the corrections that we need to make, and focus on the next game on Saturday against Ottawa. What I will say about tonight is that I think we get a ten for effort; worked extremely hard, we had the puck most of the night in their end. We get a seven for execution; we’re making plays, maybe not getting on the inside, but we got some real good looks where we didn’t execute.”Alain Vigneault; 12/5/2019; Post-Game; Philadelphia Flyers vs Arizona Coyotes
Next, the Philadelphia Flyers are at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to host the Ottawa Senators. This game takes place on Saturday, December 7th at 1:00 pm. Be sure to give a follow for more Flyers coverage at EricReesePSN on Twitter.
Mandatory Credit – © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports