The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Heading into tonight, the Philadelphia Flyers were on a six-game losing streak, akin to the win drought under Alain Vigneault. A win would tie them with the Columbus Blue Jackets for fifth place in the Metropolitan Division. The Flyers are far from a wildcard spot, thirteen points behind the Boston Bruins.
Earlier this season, the New York Rangers defeated a mostly healthy Philadelphia lineup, 4-1. They’ve alternated wins and losses over the last four games. Two nights ago, the Rangers blanked the San Jose Sharks. Could the Flyers get back into the win column, continuing the New York trend?
Rangers fans took over the Wells Fargo Center. The “Let’s Go Rangers” chants were audible, drowning out boos from the home crowd. Though the early shot totals didn’t show it, the Flyers were competing.
Then, Claude Giroux served a minor penalty for hooking. Mika Zibanejad, guilty of killing Philadelphia regularly, converted on the powerplay. The penalty kill continues to suffer. Against the leaders of the Metropolitan Division, the Flyers needed to execute on special teams.
More than half of the first period expired before Philadelphia registered a shot. Finally, Oskar Lindblom broke through, clearing a rebound on the crease.
In the defensive zone, Keith Yandle bailed out Carter Hart. Hart got a piece of the puck, but not enough. If left alone, that puck merely crosses the goal line, giving New York another lead. Yandle made a heads-up play, swatting the puck off the goal line. Lately, it’s the most important defensive play Yandle has made.
At the end of twenty minutes, the score knotted: 1-1.
Similar to the first period, the Flyers quickly occupied the penalty box. Kevin Hayes served for tripping, which could have been costly. Zibanejad made Philadelphia pay earlier when Giroux committed a penalty.
Joel Farabee and Lindblom cleared the puck efficiently, advancing through the neutral zone. Hart and Igor Shesterkin helped shake off opposing powerplay chances in the second period.
Ivan Provorov cleared Chris Kreider off the crease, making his presence known. Nick Seeler also made a few heads-up plays in the neutral zone, denying successful entries. Defensively, everyone seems to have a little more spring in their step. It wasn’t long ago that Mike Yeo called out the competitive level of his team.
Exactly like the previous period, this one ends with a tie score, 1-1.
All night, the Flyers competed on defense. In the third period, they took control offensively, scoring first.
Heading into tonight, Philadelphia was 1-1-0 when holding their opponents to under thirty shots on goal under Yeo. When outshooting their opponent under Yeo, the Flyers were 3-1-0. Tonight, both of those statistics add a loss to the column.
Cam York scored his first NHL goal for a brief 2-1 lead. Filip Chytil erased that lead moments later. Then, Chris Kreider scored the game-winner. Hart didn’t have his stick when the shot targeted on goal. It was the worst time to be caught at a disadvantage, serving as the Rangers game-winning goal.
“There were some opportunities we gave them. We’re trying to cut back on that. Everyone wants to help out the team; it’s not always about the things that you do, it’s also about the things you don’t do. I thought there was a better purpose and mindset in that tonight.”Mike Yeo; 1/15/2022
Shesterkin nearly allowed a goal from half ice, but the strange hop bounced off the post, preventing an overtime surge.
Philadelphia drops their seventh straight loss. It’s the third game in a row that the Flyers have lost, 3-2. They’re competing against opponents lately. Simply put, they’re unable to finish games.
Next, the Flyers travel to take on the New York Islanders on Martin Luther King Day. Faceoff is at 7:30p.
(Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)