The Hat Trick: Lightning Strikes the Flyers

For the first time in the 2019-2020 NHL season, the Philadelphia Flyers were blanked by another team. The Tampa Bay Lightning came into the Wells Fargo Center, where the Flyers own the best home record in all of the NHL, and shut out Philadelphia. In the nine-game winning streak that the Lightning touted, their best period was the second. Coincidentally enough, that was the same period when Tampa Bay took the lead. The Flyers wouldn’t be able to solve Andrei Vasilevskiy on Saturday night, losing 1-0 in the process.

The starting lineup for the Philadelphia Flyers featured Tyler Pitlick, Michael Raffl, and Jakub Voracek as the forwards then Philippe Myers and Travis Sanheim on defense. What jumped out in the first period of play was Sanheim on the powerplay, taking the place of Shayne Gostisbehere. In the first period, the Flyers managed to match the energy of the Tampa Bay Lightning, but couldn’t convert scoring chances. By the end of the first period, Philadelphia was 0/1 on the powerplay and 2/2 on the penalty kill. That included a Travis Konecny double-minor for high sticking.

In the second period, the Philadelphia Flyers had another powerplay opportunity when Pat Maroon was called for slashing. After the Tampa Bay Lightning killed off the penalty, Maroon would score the lone goal of the game. On the unassisted goal, the puck was flipped no more than five feet away from the front of the crease where Carter Hart was goaltending. Matt Niskanen tried to bat the puck away but missed. That provided a brief moment for Maroon to score in close range, putting the Lightning up 1-0.

Throughout this game, the Philadelphia Flyers hadn’t pressed Andrei Vasilevskiy enough. The third period was the best period of hockey from the Flyers against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Philadelphia registered ten shots in the final frame while the Lightning slowed down to only seven shots. Credit the Flyers for hanging in close with a team that statistically is better than the Washington Capitals (who are ranked at the top of the NHL.) Philadelphia had another opportunity on the powerplay, but couldn’t convert.

Offensive Woes

During the second period, the Philadelphia Flyers were only able to register six shots. Too often, they were on the defensive. When a team is playing the Tampa Bay Lightning, who is dominant in the second period, they have to press on offense. Andrei Vasilevskiy is too good of a goaltender to not be challenged more with more than 25 shots in a game. The Flyers finished with a total of 23 shots.

Shot Selection

Throughout the second and third periods, when the shot selection mattered the most, the Tampa Bay Lightning defensemen were blocking more shots than Andrei Vasilevskiy. A goaltender that collected a shut out blocked fewer shots in the second period than his defensemen. The game flow has an opportunity to be completely different if the puck movement at the blue line was a little bit smoother. That could be a hiccup because of the lineup change without Shayne Gostisbehere or Justin Braun. The third defensive pairing consisted of Robert Hagg and Mark Friedman.

As time goes on in place of Shayne Gostisbehere, Mark Friedman and Robert Hagg will sync. Former Philadelphia Flyer, Braydon Coburn, was a defenseman on the Tampa Bay Lightning that prospered in the second period. The battle that was the difference-maker in this game was between the blue line play of the defensive pairings. The Lightning won that battle.

Carter Hart

Give all the love in the world to Carter Hart. This goaltender stood on his head against the Tampa Bay Lightning throughout the game. In all fairness, the Pat Maroon goal was one where he was handcuffed because of the distance. Watching that goal back, it was just unfortunate. The bounce went the way of the Lightning in a game where Hart played as tough as Andrei Vasilevskiy did.

Next, the Philadelphia Flyers are home at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to host the Boston Bruins. This game takes place on Monday, January 12th at 7 pm. Be sure to give a follow for more Flyers coverage at EricReesePSN and PhiladelphiaSN on Twitter!

Mandatory Credit – © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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