The Flyers finally got back to winning ways last night in an impressive 4-3 win over the Rangers. It’s easy to look at the return of Claude Giroux as the main catalyst for the teams’ change of fortunes, there is another that demands praise.
The Flyers had a season-high 39 shots on goal in the victory over New York. Their average shots per game through the opening 15 games sat at a measly 23.3 and the previous season-high was 31. Overall, they outshot the Rangers 72-50 which comes as a stark contrast to what we had seen in previous games.
The Flyers have arguably been one of the more clinical teams in the league this season, but they’ve had to be. In terms of shots on goal, Vigneault’s men have been outshot in 13 of the 16 contests so far. Interestingly, the surge in production didn’t start with the forwards.
“I think a big part of us getting more shots on net starts with our back end.” Alain Vigneault said after the game. “When our back end finds a way to get pucks through, obviously it creates more scrambles and it creates more looks. For us, we were talking about getting more pucks to the net.”
All in all, the blue line accounted for 12 shots on the night. Shayne Gostisbehere tied for the team lead in shots on goal with six (nine total attempts), while Eric Gustafsson’s first goal as a Flyer was backed up with an assist, capping a solid night for the veteran.
“We talked about it before. We need to shoot more pucks on net. Like you said, we are the worst team in the league to put pucks to the net.” Eric Gustafsson told reporters following the win. “But also, the last game we played against them, they blocked a lot of shots. We talked a lot about doing one-timers and having the puck go quick to the net. That’s what we tried to do. I think we did a good job in the first, the second one we held onto the puck a little too much, I think. We got a big win here tonight and I think Moose was great on the back for us.”
The Flyers have started the fire, but the next challenge is to keep it burning. The teams’ next five games will really test the offensive defensemen and overall puck movement. With two fixtures against Buffalo and three against Pittsburgh, things could get interesting. The Sabres are allowing 29.4 shots per game, while the Pens are allowing 28.6. For context, the Rangers are allowing 29.1.
Alain Vigneault clearly left Lake Tahoe with a direct idea of what changes needed to be made. When you partner that with Claude Giroux’s return and Justin Braun rejoining the Flyers this weekend, all signs are pointing towards a gradual climb back to the level of shooting proficiency we saw in 2019.