Last night was uncomfortable on various levels.
“One positive is we’re playing again tomorrow. Got to have a short memory, get back at it, and get going tomorrow.”Alain Vigneault; 11/23/2021
That was Alain Vigneault following a shutout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was the third time this season the Philadelphia Flyers were scoreless. Losing to the Lightning became the first time Vigneault didn’t avenge a loss to a team that won the first decision in 2021-2022.
Vigneault could merge back to the right track with a win tonight. Earlier this season, the Florida Panthers defeated the Flyers in Philadelphia, 2-4.
Flyers fans are seemingly asking for a lot, but it’s reasonable. On the powerplay, Philadelphia is one of the worst in the league. Forwards aren’t scoring, which places all the pressure on goaltending and defense. Something has to give, but the Panthers haven’t.
The Panthers Are Purring
You would miss it if you weren’t paying attention, but the Florida Panthers went on a four-game losing streak this season. Losing four straight didn’t budge the needle in a negative direction. Currently, the Panthers ride with momentum, winners of their last three.
Barkov was downgraded to a week-to-week status at the beginning of the current Panthers winning streak.
Andrew Brunette has filled in as the interim head coach. When Joel Quenneville resigned, Florida was undefeated. Since then, Brunette hasn’t missed much of a stride. The Panthers are 13-2-3, second in the NHL.
Florida can compete with or without Barkov. Brunette has flipped the lineup, keeping opponents on their toes. Tonight, Brandon Montour (56.7% CF, +4) will need to hold down the bottom pair against high motor forwards like Zack MacEwen.
“Zack was one of the positive notes tonight. He made some plays with the puck, seemed to have a lot of jump to his game, and definitely had quite a few opportunities. Hopefully, next opportunity, he can capitalize on it.”Alain Vigneault; 11/23/2021
A Philadelphia Fly-By
When the bottom fell out against the Tampa Bay Lightning, I had a gut feeling that Morgan Frost was on the way. An injury to Derick Brassard ensured a call-up today. He’ll make his season debut against the same franchise he made started his NHL career. Hopefully, he’ll add the same spark he did in his first career game, scoring a goal on the Florida Panthers.
Everything goes against the sinking Philadelphia Flyers. The Panthers are undefeated at home, they’re coming off a three-day break, and ride the momentum of a three-game winning streak. Then, there’s the Flyers offense. Claude Giroux (7G, 9A) carries the load, leading a struggling offense in scoring. Adding Frost in the lineup where he can find shifts with Giroux and Travis Konecny (5G, 4A) could induce a change in pace.
Ryan Ellis and Kevin Hayes won’t be here for an extended length of time. Philadelphia needs to win with what they have. Tonight is a gut check game, not exclusive to this season, but the future of player development.
Martin Jones (92% SV, 2.82GAA, 3-2-0) is the probable starter for the Flyers. Brassard is likely replaced in the lineup by Frost.
On a fleeting thought, Nick Seeler (44% CF, -5) can’t afford to keep deep into the offensive zone. That third pair needs to remain deep in the defensive zone in case of transitions. They’ve been very sloppy because of a poor combined effort of communication and position.
I mentioned earlier that this is a gut check game for the Philadelphia Flyers. They have to figure it out starting tonight. We’ll all focus on how Morgan Frost competes in his season debut, but Derick Brassard is one of a few forwards who’ve contributed goals lately. Frost is an indication of the Flyers development system, and if he can create scoring plays, it’ll speak for the organization. Unfortunately, a victory against the Florida Panthers while Philadelphia is trying to figure it out is asking for a lot.
Panthers win, 4-2.
Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire