Flyers drop sixth straight game in search of an identity

Flyers' Ivan Provorov
Flyers’ Ivan Provorov (Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre)

Both teams entered tonight’s contest with an unsavory record as of late. The New Jersey Devils are 1-2-2 in their last five games while the Philadelphia Flyers are winless. It’s the first losing streak of its kind during the Alain Vigneault era. A loss tonight would give the Flyers their first six-game losing streak since Dave Hakstol.

On paper, these two teams play closely. I predicted Philadelphia to win, 3-2. Joel Farabee entered tonight with goals in back-to-back games, streaking into the Prudential Center.

Essentially, this game was for sole possession of sixth place in the Metropolitan Divison. For the Flyers, it’s about finding an identity a quarter of the way through the regular season.

First Period

Jesper Bratt was coming in hot, blazing down the ice in the opening minutes of the game. The discrepancy in movement in observing that was enough to realize that the New Jersey Devils began with a purpose. It was the Philadelphia Flyers who were flat.

Dougie Hamilton, the highly sought-after defenseman from this past offseason, deflected the puck beyond Martin Jones. Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny were lax in their defense between the boards and slot. Andreas Johnsson and Hamilton took advantage of the matchup, designing the scoring play. Just before Hamilton scored, he rang a shot off the crossbar.

Max Willman had a shift that provided a spark. About midway through the period, he moved like Bratt did earlier. Philadelphia began to claw back in.

Ryan Graves served a minor penalty for interference. The Flyers went on the powerplay, but it was interrupted when Joel Farabee served for hooking. Eventually, Philadelphia was 0/1 on the powerplay but 1/1 on the penalty kill. During the penalty kill, Scott Laughton scored on MacKenzie Blackwood with his patented backhand.

It all began with a puck battle victory by Ivan Provorov. Laughton took off past PK Subban before finishing the breakaway opportunity. After one period, the score deadlocked, 1-1.

Second Period

Sloppy hockey caught up with the Philadelphia Flyers early in the second period. Andreas Johnsson had back-to-back high danger scoring chances. He eventually buried the lead on the top shelf. Rasmus Ristolainen had the opportunity to clear, but he was unsuccessful. That does it for the scoring in the period; the New Jersey Devils lead 2-1.

Zack MacEwen and Mason Geertsen settled for a gentlemen’s duel. They agreed to fight before the puck dropped for a faceoff at center ice. MacEwen left to get repaired in the locker room while Geertsen served his time in the penalty box with ice on his knuckles.

Though the Flyers trail by a goal, Martin Jones was electric. He made numerous saves against Dougie Hamilton and Jesper Bratt. MacKenzie Blackwood hadn’t faced the highest quality of shots, but Morgan Frost did almost set up a scoring play for Cam Atkinson. Blackwood matched Jones’ effort.

Third Period

For ten minutes of the third period, the Philadelphia Flyers felt like they were gaining momentum. They were perfect on the penalty kill and tied the game, 2-2. Scott Laughton and Joel Farabee are rolling as of late. Luck fell the Flyers way, but then the bottom fell out.

Ivan Provorov had a rough go. He couldn’t corral a pass from Rasmus Ristolainen, turning into the game-winning goal for the New Jersey Devils. Jesper Bratt and Nathan Bastian scored on plays where Provorov was out of position. Without Ryan Ellis, Provorov is the top defenseman in Philadelphia. On these two goals, the game got away from the Flyers.

Andreas Johnsson scored an empty-net goal. The Devils won, 5-2.

Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre