To the naked eye, a 2-1-0 road trip isn’t bad. Overall, the Philadelphia Flyers are 4-2-1 with one more home game left before the first ten are in the books. Defeating the Edmonton Oilers, who were undefeated, was a boost. Avenging the home opener loss to the Vancouver Canucks on the road felt great. Then, the Calgary Flames set the Flyers world ablaze.
The Flames are atop of their division. The person surprised the least by that ought to be Alain Vigneault. He knows the better team won last night. He said as much.
“When a team is playing that well, it makes it very challenging for the opposition. They were the better team tonight.”Alain Vigneault; 10/30/2021
Philadelphia has done a better job at dictating the pace of the game this season. When the Flyers score, they’re streaky. Calgary put an end to that early.
All of the flaws began showing. Carter Hart was the cool head on the shoulders of a frustrated lineup.
“He gave us a chance. Without him, there’s obviously no game. He was the best player on the ice, for us, in this game. He gave us a chance and we were unable to follow up.”Alain Vigneault; 10/30/2021
It’s these kinds of teams Philadelphia must solve if they’re to push for the postseason.
C’mon, Do Something
Through the first two periods, the Flyers mustered nine shots. Usually, that’s an overblown statistic based on the design of Alain Vigneault’s offense. Last night, it was as bad as it sounds. The Flames didn’t allow a quality scoring chance in the first period at all.
When Sean Monahan scored the powerplay goal to put Calgary up 1-0, Philadelphia nearly had more penalty minutes than shots taken.
James van Riemsdyk, Sean Couturier, and Derick Brassard were responsible for the best scoring chances. Jacob Markstrom saved all twenty shots faced. After forty minutes, Carter Hart held the deficit to 1-0.
“You’ve got to give credit to where credit is due. They’re playing an extremely tight, checking hockey game where there’s not a lot of room on the ice. When a team plays that way, you’ve got to make plays offensively; your execution has got to be at its best. They took that away from us tonight. They made it very difficult.”Alain Vigneault 10/30/2021
The floodgates opened after Zack MacEwen‘s hooking penalty. Matthew Tkachuk pushed the lead to 2-0. Tyler Pitlick then earned an assist on an empty-net goal by Mikael Backlund. Finishing off the night was Johnny Gaudreau after Hart went back onto the ice. All around, an ugly 4-0 defeat.
Already going at it without the ideal defensive lineup for the third time on the road, the Philadelphia Flyers didn’t need help from penalties to make playing defense a steeper challenge.
Justin Braun and Rasmus Ristolainen accepted the challenge. Ristolainen, called for interference, was in the box during Sean Monahan’s powerplay goal. Braun was penalized twice, once for slashing and another for roughing.
As much as I hate it, some franchises seem to have a stigma about them, earning some penalties that may be a little tick-tack. The Flyers may have earned that reputation in the days of the “Broadstreet Bullies.”
Referees are tightening up the game, calling a lot more penalties than they previously would. “Letting the kids play” is an old expression that has a place in contact sports. Following a loss to the Florida Panthers, Alain Vigneault wasn’t thrilled with the officiating either. In expressing how he feels, Vigneault did take ownership.
“We’re going to have to get that under control. There’s some penalties that we’re getting that I’m shaking my head at; that I’m not quite sure they were penalties. There are some that we obviously deserve. The last two that we took, two hundred feet from our net in the offensive zone, were deserved.”Alain Vigneault; 10/30/2021
The Flyers were penalized six times. Particularly, Vigneault points to the second penalty from Braun and one from Zack MacEwen. The lone penalty by MacEwen led to the second powerplay goal for the Calgary Flames. Both penalties took place in the offensive zone. It eats Vigneault alive when players in his lineup are executing an unintelligent two-hundred-foot game.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre