One win is enough to instill confidence. Another provides reassurance. A victory for the Philadelphia Flyers tonight is critical, even if it’s against the Arizona Coyotes.
The Flyers need to pluck the low-hanging two points. A heavy underdog against the Vegas Golden Knights, Philadelphia shocked the league when they picked up the upset. Momentum is a critical element, moving freely throughout the season’s ebb and flow. Back-to-back victories hadn’t been achieved since the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks.
In fact, Alain Vigneault and Michel Therrien shuffled the powerplay units before taking on the Coyotes earlier this season. The Flyers went on a lengthy powerplay drought before showing some life with Mike Yeo and Darryl Williams.
“Darryl Williams is really stressing the point of quick attacks, and with that, the guys are recognizing the puck needs to get to [the] net.”Mike Yeo; 12/11/2021
Tonight, Philadelphia regained a sense of structure before returning home for a pit stop versus the New Jersey Devils.
Neutral: Trading Quick Scores
It’s an unfortunate stigma the Philadelphia Flyers adopted last season. Fans learned to hold their breath when the Flyers score because the opponent equalizer isn’t far behind.
James van Riemsdyk made a brilliant defensive play in the neutral zone before scoring in transition. Less than a minute later, Martin Jones was out the crease, exposing the entire net to Jay Beagle. A hot start was almost for nothing. I continue to stress momentum because the Arizona Coyotes could have changed the game if they scored following Beagle’s effort. After the Coyotes tied the game, they had a successful penalty kill.
Hustling to hold off Arizona was Zack MacEwen, who is deceptively quick because he plays through the whistle.
Later in the second period, Philadelphia profited from a quick answer to a Coyotes goal. Nick Schmaltz scored from the blue line, tying the game 2-2. Immediately after, Karel Vejmelka turned the puck over in the defensive zone to Patrick Brown, who scored on an open net.
Positive: Special Teams
Keith Yandle and James van Riemsdyk were responsible for the entirety of the Philadelphia Flyers penalties. Winning hockey stems from discipline, which the Flyers were in comparison. Yandle served for high sticking and van Riemsdyk for delay of game.
Travis Sanheim remained aggressive at the blue line and behind the goal line. He continues to be one of the most underrated pieces in Philadelphia. Heavy hits gain attention across the ice when Rasmus Ristolainen is there, but Sanheim has been a reliable partner, engaging transition to offense. He helped push the pace with Scott Laughton.
“Our kill’s been one of the stronger points of our game.”Scott Laughton; 12/11/2021
Making up for his penalty, van Riemsdyk converted on the powerplay. Loui Eriksson served a minor penalty for high sticking, and the Flyers peppered Karel Vejmelka with high percentage shots. Travis Konecny continues to shoot his shot, but van Riemsdyk secured the deflection. A scoring play is a scoring play. Philadelphia will take powerplay production any way they can get it.
“We have a mindset of attacking, and we don’t need to waste time setting up all the time and trying to have perfect plays.”Travis Konecny; 12/11/2021
Positive: A Successful Roadtrip
Everyone was frustrated at the beginning of this road trip, in the middle of a losing streak, freshly shut out by the New Jersey Devils. Philadelphia Flyers fans revolted by wearing brown paper bags.
Conveniently, the Flyers scored 4+ goals in their last two games, including a powerplay goal, en route to defeating the Vegas Golden Knights and Arizona Coyotes.
When Philadelphia defeated the Golden Knights, Vegas was closing in on their longest win streak of the season. On the other side of the spectrum, everyone should beat the Coyotes. Two games aren’t enough to understand if the Flyers are fixing the errors of their ways, but they ought to treat the Devils like a real test. After all, they’ve yet to defeat New Jersey this season.
Based on this road trip alone, Chuck Fletcher deserves a bit of praise. He noticed Nick Seeler, formerly a Minnesota Wild defenseman, wasn’t complementing Keith Yandle. An acquisition from the waiver wire reunited Kevin Connauton with Yandle, former teammates on the Florida Panthers. Connauton and Yandle have chemistry together on the third pair. Ryan Ellis is still unavailable, so Connauton acts as an inexpensive upgrade compared to Seeler.
Heading back to Philadelphia with a two-game winning streak is a lot better than the usual as of late. The Flyers are overwhelmed with more problems than solutions, but something that resembles winning hockey is refreshing. It’s nice to see a struggling team regain some confidence.