After a hot start to the season, the Flyers fell back to reality Monday night. Due to some awful defensive play, they fell 6-1 to the Sabres
After taking a 2-0 series sweep to start the season against the Penguins, the Flyers were riding a high heading into Monday night’s game against Buffalo. However, they fell back to Earth like a meteor in game three. They dropped this one 6-1 in ugly fashion.
There isn’t much to say about this game. When you can’t get through the neutral zone, you aren’t going to win a hockey game. Add double-digit giveaways into the mix with some poor defending overall, and it makes matters even worse.
Flyers get dominated
The first period of this game was easily the worst of the Flyers’ young season so far. From the get-go, the Sabres simply played with more energy. The Eichel-Hall-Reinhart line dominated the Giroux-Hayes-Farabee line in the game’s opening minute.
This did not change whatsoever.
The Flyers just couldn’t get out of their own way. On nearly every zone entry, they just coughed up the puck. They turned over the puck nearly every time they had it. At one point, Robert Hagg had the puck in open ice and flicked it on his backhand down the ice for an icing call. That pretty much sums this one up.
The Flyers held on to the tie until the 15:52 mark of the period. Curtis Lazar snuck home a wicked back hander over the shoulder of Carter Hart to take the lead. Honestly, the Flyers’ play was so bad in this period, they were lucky this was the only goal.
Phil Myers made some good defensive plays, and the fourth line was buzzing almost each time they touched the ice. That’s pretty much the entire list of positives from the first frame. They were outshot 11-4, outhit 15-4, and had six giveaways to Buffalo’s two.
Flyers get worse
The Flyers just couldn’t get anything going. Early in the second was promising, but that’s about it. The Sabres continued to pile on their dominance.
After Carter Hart, of all people, would get called for a tough tripping call, Buffalo capitalized. Sam Reinhart would go onto score on an awkward back door angle to put the Sabres up 2-0. However, the pain wouldn’t stop here.
Reinhart would score yet another goal to make it 3-0. And you know what came next?
You guessed it- another Buffalo goal. Curtis Lazar would also tally his second of the game to make it 4-0. This would also chase Carter Hart from the game, with Brian Elliott making his first appearance of the season.
After two, the Flyers trailed in shots 26-15. The 15 shots was even surprising, as they simply couldn’t get into Buffalo’s zone whatsoever again in the second.
New Flyers’ D-Pairings?
In an attempt to spark some type of defensive play, the Flyers rearranged their pairings on the blue line.
This wasn’t a bad idea by coach Alain Vigneault. Trying to fill the void on the top pairing left by Matt Niskanen’s retirement is going to be a tough, but crucial task. Overall, the changes looked like it got the job done, as the Flyers held Buffalo to *only* one 5-on-5 goal in the third, which was a fluke anyways.
Offensively, they also made a couple of swaps as well:
Av was doing anything to get this team momentum, but things just weren’t clicking for them. Erik Gustafsson had an own goal, which pretty much summed up the Flyers’ night. Nic Aube-Kubel would sneak home a dribbler to give the Flyers their lone goal of the night, but would immediately sit in the box for a high sticking double minor. This would lead to a Victor Olofsson goal.
This article felt way too negative. This was for good reason, but there were a couple of bright spots in the loss, so let’s highlight those for a hot second.
The fourth line was buzzing, for one. The Laughton, NAK, and Raffl trio was generating pressure all night, including a few times against the Sabres top line. They scored the only goal of the night for Philly as well.
Brian Elliott also looked sharp after coming in for Hart. He let in one goal that deflected off of Erik Gustafsson, and another one the powerplay which no goaltender possible would have saved in either case. Otherwise, he looked decent in his first appearance of the season.
The Flyers play their second game in as many nights against Buffalo again tomorrow night. Puck drop is slated for 7 PM at Wells Fargo Center. You can catch the game on NBC Sports Philadelphia, with their pregame coverage at 6:30.
Avid Philly fan and future educator
Student at Stockton University