Flyers Prove Sturdy Leadership In OT Win vs Sabres

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Philadelphia Flyers relied on veteran leadership to solve their on-ice problems en route to an OT victory versus the Buffalo Sabres.

For the first time in March 2021, the Philadelphia Flyers can claim they’re on a winning streak. Before last night, the Flyers hadn’t strung two consecutive wins together since February 2021, when they defeated the Buffalo Sabres twice following a one-goal victory against the New York Rangers.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

What if that isn’t true? What if Philadelphia is starting to figure out the solutions to their problems on the ice? During an ugly month of hockey, leadership was unstable, and the lineup underperformed. Last night, in a win against the Sabres, the Flyers were able to save face.

When a head coach enters a locker room and says nothing, that silence means more than words. During the second intermission, down 0-3, Vigneault didn’t address his locker room. Instead, Philadelphia had to figure it out.

Throughout their struggles, the Flyers have found a way to score on goaltenders in the third period. Kevin Hayes scored early. Claude Giroux followed up on a sly play from Sean Couturier. Couturier tied the game, forcing overtime, then Ivan Provorov sank the game-winner. Philadelphia relied exclusively on its core leadership to win.

Laughton and Braun Speak

Scott Laughton and Justin Braun, cited by Giroux, were the ones who spoke up during the second intermission. Vigneault allowed the Flyers to rely on their leaders to guide the team towards victory.

Those two players speaking up is a testament to the character of the locker room. Philadelphia could have easily pointed the finger, but they didn’t. The locker room accepted the hold they dug for themselves and began to climb out.

On Wednesday, the Flyers could potentially start Alex Lyon as Carter Hart continues to receive extra practices. The veteran leadership lighting a fire tonight will have to carry through this series versus Buffalo. Old habits need to phase out. Philadelphia must begin hot rather than routinely play catch-up.

“Maybe next game, we should pretend we’re down 3-0, and maybe we’ll have a good start.”Ivan Provorov; 3/29/21

Shortening The Bench

For the sake of urgency, Vigneault collapsed the bench in the third period. He allowed his top-nine forwards to put the team on their back. In doing so, it meant benching Joel Farabee, Oskar Lindblom, and Nolan Patrick. To Vigneault, excluding those three forwards would mainline quality effort into finite minutes. He was right.

“I thought Scotty Laughton’s line with Raff and Q were working extremely hard, and put Hayesy with TK and James, and shortened up the bench, and the guys found a way to get it done.”

Alain Vigneault; 3/29/21

Recently, I’ve stressed how valuable Michael Raffl has been to the Flyers. His line, featuring Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Laughton, remained disruptive in winning puck battles. By omitting the entire third-line, Vigneault only included the top-six and bottom-three in the third period.

“At this time in the situation we’re in, if we’re going to move forward and get the job done, your top players have got to be your top players. That’s one of the reasons why I put Coots back with G and Jake.”

Alain Vigneault; 3/29/21

The front offices of franchises pay top players to be the best. Tonight, Vigneault challenged Jake Voracek, Giroux, and Couturier to lead by example.

If at all, in Philadelphia, the veteran leadership is sturdy.

Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre

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