There isn’t going to be a better opportunity for the Philadelphia Flyers to get a leg up on the Pittsburgh Penguins this season.
The Penguins were missing far more impactful players than the Flyers, who began as the most injured team. Sure, missing Kevin Hayes and Ryan Ellis still stings. It doesn’t compare to Pittsburgh without Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Brian Dumoulin, Bryan Rust, Marcus Pettersson, and Chad Ruhwedel. Last night, Philadelphia whiffed on securing two points.
“They’ve been playing extremely well; playing the right type of hockey. We’re missing a couple key elements; they’re missing a couple key elements. It’s just a part of the game.”Alain Vigneault; 11/4/2021
Offensively, both teams had quality scoring chances. The final score should have totaled more than five goals. Both netminders allowed their team to win. In the end, the Penguins executed better than the Flyers on defense. How apropos, Kris Letang budged the game-winner just past the goal line.
Philadelphia walked away with one point but could have lost in regulation. Here’s how it all went down on the road in Pittsburgh:
All it took was sixteen seconds. Brock McGinn was on time, cutting across the crease to deflect the puck past Carter Hart. It was one of those goals that Hart couldn’t do much about. During regulation, that was a trend in this game.
“We lost the draw, but our forechecking from there was exactly what we want. Unfortunately, Couts went to dump it in, the puck bounced, they were able to get it deep into our zone. From there, they just got it right up top; we lost coverage down low. Guys close to the net got enough stick on it to get it by Carter.”Alain Vigneault; 11/4/2021
McGinn outhustled Travis Sanheim on a few following sequences. It was the beginning of a rough outing for Sanheim, but the Philadelphia Flyers’ defensive woes weren’t exclusive to him. Someone on every line made a costly mistake throughout this rivalry game. When Ryan Ellis is healthy to return, swaps may help the Flyers’ second and third pair. Sanheim is playing his way to sheltered minutes on the third pair because of his lack of positioning and physicality, which doesn’t complement Rasmus Ristolainen.
Throughout regulation, Philadelphia’s third line played with a high motor. James van Riemsdyk continues to get in passing lanes and break up rebound chances in the defensive zone. He and Scott Laughton were peppering Tristan Jarry in the first period.
At the end of the first, the Pittsburgh Penguins led, 0-1.
Last night was a reminder that the Philadelphia Flyers need Ryan Ellis to return. It’s impossible to say the outcome would have been different, but if Ellis is healthy to compete, it takes Nick Seeler off the ice. In doses, Seeler has been an effective seventh defenseman playing his role. At times, Seeler looked lost with the puck near Carter Hart in the defensive zone.
Against the league’s best penalty kill, the new-look Flyers powerplay was successful. Claude Giroux faked a slapshot to Travis Konecny on the doorstep. Tristan Jarry didn’t bite hard on the fake, but Konecny created space and took a sharp angle to the top shelf. Konecny made a better play than Jarry to tie the game. Leaving the top shelf open was as much a mental gaffe as Hart had in overtime.
“I thought it was a great game. Both goaltenders made some big saves at the right time.”Alain Vigneault; 11/4/2021
Four minutes later, the Pittsburgh Penguins took back the lead.
James van Riemsdyk continued to create scoring chances. He had an opportunity to tie the game again but couldn’t score on the breakaway.
What jumped out this period were the number of turnovers the Philadelphia Flyers left for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the neutral zone. The Penguins’ defensive transition curated scoring opportunities, but Carter Hart gave the Flyers a chance.
Another trend that didn’t derail was the play of Philadelphia’s third line. Finally, James van Riemsdyk was rewarded with a backdoor assist intended for Oskar Lindblom but finished by Scott Laughton. Deadlocked, 2-2, this game had new life.
I love overtime hockey!
Carter Hart made one mental gaffe throughout this hockey game, and it came after hours. Unfortunately, his pad didn’t extend outside the post, leaving Kris Letang just a smidge of space. If you give an inch, they take a mile. The mile, in this case, was a game-winning goal in overtime for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“We were in the offensive zone, we won the draw and could’ve gotten that puck. Letang jumped on it and we never got it back.”Alain Vigneault; 11/4/2021
The Flyers earn a point in overtime, but not two for winning.
Next up for the Philadelphia Flyers are the Washington Capitals tomorrow. The puck drops at 7pm on NBC Sports.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre