For the third time in eighteen days, the Philadelphia Flyers and Tampa Bay Lightning clashed.
Everyone knows the narrative: TB has Philly’s number. That number is ten, as in ten straight losses to the Lightning. Alain Vigneault continues to struggle against the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions. Philadelphia’s inability to solve the Lightning takes the backseat. Look at the Flyers’ performance over the last ten games. Tonight, the other shoe began to drop.
“I got to find a way to make this group play better.”Alain Vigneault; 12/5/2021
Injuries play a role, but the issues are deeper rooted. Philadelphia seems as confident as they were last year, which called for Chuck Fletcher to be aggressive in the offseason. Vigneault feels the pressure to patch this sinking season, especially following this 7-1 debacle.
Brian Elliott and Carter Hart went head-to-head against one another for the first time in their career. They were notably teammates on the Flyers not too long ago, but last night, they were rivals..
Elliott was peppered early on by the Flyers, surprisingly sustaining pressure in the offensive zone. Philadelphia took the early shot lead but countered in the neutral zone, forcing high danger scoring chances. Hart had to make a few sprawling saves, making him commit out of position against a lethal offense.
Suddenly, Ryan McDonagh has his fingerprints all over two consecutive goals. First, he bats in a rebound from a shot by Steven Stamkos. Then, McDonagh shoots wide, but Corey Perry sneaks the puck in after it bounced back into the slot off the boards. Hart didn’t have a chance to make either save. In a flash, the Lightning went up 2-0.
Confidence is a critical intangible, and at this point in the game, the Flyers needed to score the next goal.
It didn’t take long for the wheels to fall off.
Carter Hart was bamboozled. In ten minutes, three more pucks crossed the goal line. Taylor Raddysh scored his second of his career, then Boris Katchouk scored his first-ever. Mathieu Joseph scored a shorthanded goal following a disastrous attempt to clear the puck by Hart. Suddenly, the Tampa Bay Lightning led, 5-0, and Martin Jones put his helmet on.
“Tough break. I got to make a better play.”Carter Hart; 12/5/2021
Before being replaced, Hart slapped the puck out of the goal. He’s clearly frustrated, and it’s toxic for the mindset of any goaltender.
“As hard as it can be, we got to try to do a good job of staying positive…”James van Riemsdyk; 12/5/2021
Moments after Jones replaced Hart, Kevin Hayes had a two-on-one chance. The Wells Fargo Center popped, hoping to see something work. Down by five goals, the fanbase wants to see the fundamentals create success. Cam Atkinson echoed a lot of what the fanbase wants; a shoot-first approach.
“We need to shoot the puck. That’s where we get rebounds. I think we’re trying to be a little too cute, and we score all our goals in the dirty areas.”Cam Atkinson; 12/5/2021
Scott Laughton nearly scored. Unfortunately, the goal did not stand because his stick was higher than the crossbar when it touched the puck. Otherwise, he would have contributed to the scoreboard.
Martin Jones didn’t make it out of the game unscathed. Pat Maroon settled on the crease between Justin Braun and Keith Yandle. Yandle had a rough night in terms of keeping track of the Tampa Bay Lightning’s third line wingers working the crease or the trapezoid behind the net.
Finally, the Philadelphia Flyers began to scrap with the Lightning. It isn’t a matter of losing the game, but winning a fight. It’s a matter of finding a spark and standing up for the pride of the locker room. Travis Sanheim and Anthony Cirelli highlighted the scrum, setting up a powerplay opportunity.
Earlier, Carter Hart was the bottom that dropped out of the powerplay, allowing a shorthanded goal. Cam Atkinson deflected the puck past Brian Elliott this time, spoiling his shutout bid.
When a positive event happens, a negative one loomed near. Corey Perry scored his second of the game. He has five total goals this season. Three of which are against the Flyers. More than half scored this season have been against either Hart or Jones.
Philadelphia, with Alain Vigneault, is winless against Tampa Bay, losing 7-1.
Tomorrow night, the Philadelphia Flyers host the Colorado Avalanche. Faceoff is at 7pm.
Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre