The moment has arrived for the Philadelphia Flyers to impress at Lake Tahoe. Could they capitalize in outdoor hockey?
Philadelphia sports identify as the underdog. Heading into Lake Tahoe, the Philadelphia Flyers were exactly that, as they set to take on the Boston Bruins. Through four games in 2020-2021, the Flyers are 0-2-2 versus the Bruins. Tonight, they had an opportunity to correct that losing streak. Unfortunately, Boston continued their current undefeated streak against Philadephia.
Flyers start out hot
The Flyers needed to avoid an early deficit from the Bruins but were unable to do so. Within the first minute, David Pastrnak blew a one-timer by Carter Hart. In transition, Boston created an odd-man rush when Patrice Bergeron snapped a breakout pass to Brad Marchand. Marchand was patient with the puck, finding Pastrnak across the crease in the slot. The Bruins took an early lead, 1-0.
Bruce Cassidy certainly game-planned around his top-line. Philadelphia needed to expect to see a heavy dose of the “perfection line,” especially in transition. They did answer, however. Sean Couturier bounced a puck off the boards behind Tuukka Rask. Off a ricochet, Joel Farabee surprised Rask with a goal.
Farabee adds to his wonderful sophomore season, scoring his eighth goal. On the scoring play, James van Riemsdyk notched career point five-hundred. The momentum of the game tipped in the Flyers’ favor, rebounding after letting an early goal. Couturier served a penalty for tripping, but Connor Bunnaman and Robert Hagg were exceptional on the penalty kill. Moments later, Couturier would cash in his receipt.
Straight out of the penalty box, Couturier gave Philadelphia a 2-1 lead. Rask was out of position, defending a shot attempt from van Riemsdyk. Couturier scored on a wide-open net, taking advantage of the traffic at the crease. The lead would not last, however.
Before the end of the period, Charlie McAvoy tied the game with a slapshot from the blue line. The puck traveled cleanly under the arm of Hart. During the play, Ivan Provorov unintentionally screened Hart. He wasn’t able to locate the puck off the stick and paid for it. Knotted up, 2-2, both teams went into intermission to strategize for the second period.
The tide turns drastically
Similar to the loss to the New York Rangers, the Flyers’ quality of play suffered in the second period. Pastrnak scored in the opening minute once again, opening the floodgates for Boston. Travis Sanheim played closely to Patrnak, but he ripped a quick shot around him, beating Hart up high. Against the Bruins this season, Philadelphia has not found success in the opening stages of a new period. Once again, Boston led by one.
Heading into this game, the Bruins powerplay was ranked sixth in the NHL. The Flyers could not afford to take bad penalties against a dangerous powerplay unit. Philadelphia already arrived at Lake Tahoe shorthanded, missing six starters due to the COVID19 protocol. As soon as the Flyers seemed to settle down in the middle of the period, the worst was yet to come.
Hart surrendered three more goals in the second period. Charlie Coyle scored, extending the lead to 4-2. Shortly after, Trent Frederic scored his first NHL goal. Frustration set in for Philadelphia when they committed a roughing penalty between plays after Frederic scored. To cap off the second period, Nick Ritchie scored a deflection powerplay goal to lead 6-2.
Flyers try to fight back
Before the second intermission, Brian Elliott began to warm-up. Alain Vigneault pulled Hart after another disastrous start against Boston. Elliott has been the better goaltender throughout 2020-2021 versus the Bruins. In relief, he would also fall victim to Pastrnak.
Following a horrid second period, the Flyers cleaned their act up in the third. Boston committed a few penalties, giving Philadelphia powerplay opportunities. An extra-man advantage would convert to a goal from van Riemsdyk, who collected his third point of the contest. On a deflection, the puck took a lucky bounce off a Bruins defenseman past Rask. The Flyers cut the lead in half, 6-3.
As mentioned, Pastrnak had more to contribute. He collected his second hat-trick versus Philadelphia this season. Off a turnover in the defensive zone, Pastrnak fired the puck behind Elliott. Boston claimed another victory against the Flyers, 7-3.
Next for the Philadelphia Flyers is their return match against the New York Rangers. The puck drop is at 7pm from the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday, February 24th. The game will broadcast on NBC Sports.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre