While the Philadelphia Flyers did lose in a shootout to the New York Islanders, they did find themselves (and a point towards the standings).
Pyrrhic victories don’t count for anything towards the Mass Mutual Eastern Division standings. However, it’s inaccurate to say the Philadelphia Flyers didn’t play better on Saturday than they did all of March. After all, securing a point against the second-placed team within the east isn’t easy.
A historically awful defense held the Islanders to two goals. One of them came as a result of a powerplay. If not for undisciplined play in the first period, the Flyers could have won that game in regulation. Could of, would of, and should of doesn’t do the job in the NHL.
Anthony Beauvilier notched his second goal in as many periods. In the second and third periods, Philadelphia arguably was the better team. Carter Hart looked great in his return after regrouping last week away from the ice. Claude Giroux continued to help on scoring plays, scoring twice. The Flyers, who surrendered seventy-six goals a month ago (4.47GAA), forced a low-scoring shootout against a deep Islanders team.
Now, Philadelphia is trending in the right direction.
Against playoff teams this week, the Flyers face an uphill battle. Could they carry this momentum?
Has Hart Found His Mojo?
Vigneault praised Hart’s performance in the crease. All season, Hart has struggled against everyone. His performance against the Islanders restored faith in the young goaltender.
“He did what we expect a goaltender to do, and that’s give your team a chance.”Alain Vigneault; 4/3/21
Brian Elliott is not a goaltender the team can rely on throughout an entire season at this stage of his career. He’s a luxury to have as a backup goaltender. Too often this season, Philadelphia borrowed his time when Hart struggled. In the NHL, two goaltenders who split quality efforts are vital. It’s a trend among most playoff-bound teams.
Hart picked himself up along with coaching as the Flyers split a series against the Buffalo Sabres. He made clutch glove saves. Most importantly, he didn’t allow as many rebounds for second opportunities. His technique and confidence improved in a short time.
The Islanders could have scored more than two goals. Disciplined play must improve as much as Hart did.
Philadelphia Earns a Point
While not victorious on Saturday, the overtime point accumulated was crucial.
The Flyers remain tied for fifth place in the Eastern Division with the New York Rangers. Instead of falling five points behind the Boston Bruins, they remain four points out of a playoff spot. If Philadelphia can find a way to defeat the Bruins twice, they could be in the playoffs by Wednesday. For this team, that is a giant momentum swing from how the season has played out.
“Where we are at this point of the season, it’s disappointing not to get that second point. In shootouts, anything can happen, and we need those extra points. With saying that, today’s game was our best in a while, and we need to build on this.”Claude Giroux; 4/3/21
Giroux mentioned Saturday was the best the Flyers played in a while. There are a lot of great things to build on. Philadelphia, defensively, has played more physical while matching intensity. They also discovered more help at forward on the forecheck and back check in Tanner Laczynski.
Laczynski filled in for Michael Raffl, who offers help on the forecheck. Building towards the future, Laczynski performed well enough to earn a place on the Flyers.
Now, everything is on the line early this week as Philadelphia inches closer to the NHL trade deadline.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre