Last night, the Flyers were unable to hold off the Islanders as they dropped their second game in a row against New York. Only a night later, Philadelphia found themselves in what should be a pick-me-up game. The Flyers were 4-1 heading into this game when playing the latter half of back-to-backs and this continued. Facing off against the New Jersey Devils, who sit second-to-last in the East division, the Flyers failed to follow this trend.
After some hard-fought periods, the Flyers fell to the Devils on their home ice. Sloppy breakouts, turnovers, and failing to shoot the puck were their recipe for disaster. Despite this being almost a must-win, Philadelphia dropped this one by a final score of 4-3. Here’s how we got there:
Another Sluggish Flyers’ Start
To start this period off, the Flyers wound up on the scoresheet for the wrong reason. Only 30 seconds in, Justin Braun took an interference penalty. This would wind up setting the tone for the majority of the period as well.
The Devils were getting their chances early and often. Carter Hart and his best friend, the goal post, saved the Flyers on numerous occasions within the first ten minutes. They could only support so much, as the Devils quickly capitalized on one of their many two-on-ones. Michael McLeod finished off nice passes from Ty Smith and Andreas Johnsson on the odd-man rush. By this point, the Flyers only had one total shot after 12 minutes of playing time as well.
The good news is, it’s quality over quantity in the NHL. The Flyers would soon go to the powerplay after a Ty Smith interference penalty. Here, Jake Voracek would send a strategic low and hard shot to the net, where Joel Farabee would pound it home to tie the game at one.
For the next five-ish minutes, each team got their fair share of chances. However, Travis Sanheim would go to the box with a minute and a half remaining in the period. The Devils would capitalize on this with five seconds remaining in the period, as Kyle Palmieri would put New Jersey up 2-1 before heading into the first intermission.
Flyers Don’t Get Much Better
Early in the period, Ty Smith took a penalty, as he was sent to the box for hooking. The Flyers would get their share of shots and chances, but Mackenzie Blackwood had all of the answers.
The Devils would get their third shot at the man advantage quickly after. Travis Sanheim got sent to the box again, this time for tripping. Luckily, the Devils could not put one past Hart this attempt. The Flyers actually would get more chances than the Devils, and Sean Couturier was about two inches away from tying the game at two while a man down. Coots hit the post after a two-on-one with Joel Farabee.
However, their strand of bad luck and lack of discipline continued. Oskar Lindblom was called for a tripping minor, which gave the Devils their fourth man advantage five minutes into the second period. The Flyers would go on to kill it off, and Kevin Hayes actually had a short-handed breakaway after P.K. Subban tripped over his own feet. Hayes shot wide, however.
After a number of chances for the Flyers, their defensive coverage (or lack thereof) would be their Achilles’ Heel once again. Yegor Sharangovich was left wide open in front of Hart. Travis Zajac found him from the corner, and Sharangovich made his shot count to make it 3-1 in favor of the Devils.
The Flyers got another power play with five minutes remaining after Kyle Palmieri took a high sticking penalty. They didn’t do much with it, but it happened nonetheless. The Devils would tally another one as Travis Zajac finished off a tic-tac-toe play with 23 seconds remaining in the third as well. These teams went into the third with the Devils leading in both goals and shots (4 and 24, respectively). With little surprise, the Flyers were getting boo’ed as the second period came to a close as well.
A Little Too Late…
Alain Vigneault started this period off with a couple of lineup changes. At the beginning of the third, Nolan Patrick centered Jake Voracek and Oskar Lindblom with Sanheim and Braun at the blue line. The change sparked some heavy pressure by the Flyers’ offense early, but they ended up with nothing to show for it.
By the halfway mark of the third period, the Flyers were starting to get their footing… in some capacity. It was a little too late by this point. It was so bad, that the Flyers’ mid-game arena host wanted the Flyers’ fans in the building to cheer louder than the fake, pumped in crowd noise. The fans in person didn’t disappoint in terms of noise, except instead of being cheers, they filled the arena with boos.
Honestly, the biggest problem this game, and in many others, is that the Flyers just aren’t making the easy plays. They can’t complete the simple pass, are unable to capitalize on the few odd-man rushes they get, and just aren’t getting any puck luck recently. The Devils, on the other hand, were doing all of these things. The sad part is that they weren’t doing them flawlessly, but just better than the Flyers. And honestly, that’s all it takes in some NHL games.
Anyways, aside from the “Negadelphian” in me coming out, the Flyers did score in the third period as well. With about eight minutes in the game remaining, Travis Konecny set Sean Couturier up backdoor to cut the deficit to two. The game remained fairly quiet until Coots found himself alone in the slot while Hart was on the bench to make the game 4-3 with a minute remaining. Their resilience was nice, and so were their 16 third-period shots, but they came too late.
Flyers Stay Home
The Flyers will stay in Philadelphia this week. Something needs to change for Philly, and this has to be it. Chuck Fletcher meets with the media tomorrow afternoon and needs to change the path of this team. The Flyers just aren’t making the easy plays. Too many passes and/or fanning on shots. Philadelphia also can’t complete their neutral zone and/or stretch passes. They just need to simplify things.
They have a good chance to turn things around Thursday night at 7. The New York Rangers come to town in what is a must-win series for the orange and black. Coverage can be found on NBC Sports Philadelphia.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre