After 18 long days, the Flyers made their way back to the Wells Fargo Center to host the Penguins, who have been on quite a hot streak. With five players in COVID protocol and injuries hindering this Flyers team, they crawled across the finish line when the final horn went off and lost 6-2.
Following a COVID exposure and the inability to attend the game for coverage, it’s great to know this matchup started on a slow note — due to the fact it took way too long to find the stream on Hulu.
When a game is being exclusively streamed on a platform — this time on ESPN+/Hulu — it should be a little easier to access it. But, enough about a streaming service, let’s dive into the game that I truly wish I couldn’t find, so I wouldn’t have to sit through it.
Even though the opening frame of this matchup was rather slow, it didn’t take much time for the Penguins to find their groove. More specifically, Bryan Rust, who scored the opening goal of this game, in addition to the following. Rust has been on fire as of late, now scoring seven times in the past three games.
There wasn’t much to say about the Flyers in the offensive zone through the first 20 minutes. Yes, goaltender Tristan Jarry was on top of his game, but it’s not difficult when the intensity level was set at zero for the Flyers. For a moment, it looked like there was an opportunity for a Scott Laughton goal, but an early whistle and a slashing penalty ended that.
Jake Guentzel decided to add to the Penguins lead and Pittsburgh coasted into the second period up 3-0.
The Flyers had a chance to slice into the Penguins lead with a power-play opportunity, but it quickly turned into the shift where if anything wrong could happen, it did — and all to Joel Farabee. With missed shots and the struggle to keep the puck in the zone, it was certainly a shift the 21-year-old would want back.
Talk about immediate redemption. Following that brutal shift on the power play, and some frustration up the tunnel, Farabee set up one heck of a goal for Cam Atkinson. Atkinson sniped one past Jarry and cut their deficit to two.
The biggest red flag from the second period was that even though the Flyers got the only tally on the board through the second frame, it looked like the Penguins coasted through those 20 minutes. Yes, the Penguins were on the second game of a back-to-back, but the chances of them playing at this slow of a pace in the third seemed less than likely.
Opportunities were flowing on both ends of the ice, which made for the most entertaining period of the evening — well until things decided to go downhill for the Flyers once again. It felt like they were finally finding their stride and had a chance to get within reach and then the Penguins decided to turn up the heat.
Evan Rodrigues, another Penguin who has just dominated as of late, scored his 15th goal of the season. This goal was soon followed by a pair of goals — Guentzel’s second of the evening and one from Brian Boyle.
Oskar Lindblom was able to get one back for the Flyers, scoring his fourth goal of the season, but this one was already put away.
This game played out exactly how it should have. A battered and broken-down Flyers team faced a Penguins roster that is connecting at a top-tier level. The Flyers continued to struggle, while the Penguins extended their winning streak to 10 games.
It could be argued that the Flyers had an AHL-heavy roster, very little practice time with interim head coach Mike Yeo and injuries that have put this team too far out to recover this season — but the truth of the matter is, this game probably wouldn’t have looked much different if these issues weren’t a factor.
The Flyers have struggled from the jump this season — and the same problems continue to rise to the surface, regardless of who is in the lineup each night. It’s frustrating, as it feels like there is no end in sight.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein
You don’t have to be Einstein to realize the issues this Flyers team has are more than flesh wounds. Let’s just hope the Flyers know that, too.
The Flyers look to redeem themselves Saturday night when they host the Sharks — puck drop is set for 7:00 p.m.
(Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)