Today, the Philadelphia Flyers hosted the Carolina Hurricanes for an afternoon contest. The 3pm faceoff celebrated Pride Night (Day) at the Wells Fargo Center. For the afternoon showdown, there was hardly any traffic on I-95.
Pride Day didn’t feel like just a theme; it felt celebrated by the Flyers. Philadelphia presented a $5000 check to the You Can Play Project and celebrated the 45th anniversary of Philly Gay News. Additionally, LGBTQ+ organizations received complimentary tickets. The Pride Day warm-up attire and commemorative items proceeds benefit Flyers Charities.
The Flyers were last in the Metropolitan Division before faceoff. Carolina leads the division, owning the second-most points in the Eastern Conference behind the Florida Panthers. Philadelphia puts in the work and shows the effort but cannot find a way to win. It’s been a common theme. Today wasn’t any different against one of the NHL’s elite franchises.
“Could’ve won, should’ve won; we’re not winning those games. Getting an understanding it’s about us and when we do the things we’re supposed to, and we do them shift-after-shift, man-after-man, we’re getting good results. We’re capable of playing with anybody. We’re putting ourselves in a position to win because of things that we’re doing and things we’re capable of doing; we’re not closing out games, again, because of things we may or may not be doing at a certain time in the game.”Mike Yeo; 2/21/2022
Forcing overtime, the Flyers showed fight, but they couldn’t close.
Here are observations from today’s losing effort and post-game press conferences:
1) At the start of the game, Ristolainen made a few timely defensive plays. After making a beautiful stick check, he hit Fast, then placed a booming bodycheck on Martinook. You knew it was Ristolainen each time the boards banged.
He had a rough evening. On the Neiderreiter goal, he waited for the puck behind Jones, but it took an odd hop of the glass before it circled. Another time, Necas deflected a shot from Cole, turning it into the goal by Trocheck. Ristolainen couldn’t do too much to prevent either one.
When Fletcher and Scott spoke to the media, the general manager mentioned plans to keep Ristolainen. At the trade deadline, though he won’t get the return he paid, he ought to be listening to offers for Ristolainen, instead.
2) Konecny had the first scoring chance for the Flyers. Laughton located the puck off the boards, and Konecny took off.
Today makes it a six-game point streak for Konecny, who is also attached to trade rumors. He recorded the primary assist on Lindblom’s deflection. His constant motor keeps him producing on offense while making timely defensive plays.
3) Ratcliffe continues to make waves. He forced a neutral zone takeaway on Pesce in the first period before ringing the puck off the post. After, he promptly went between the legs with his stick, nearly scoring a cheeky goal in traffic on Andersen.
He is playing better in the NHL than he would comparably at the AHL. He attributes that to confidence and his teammates being in the right places, helping his game.
“I finally got an opportunity up here when I was at my peak, I think, down there. When you come out onto the ice with these big guys, everyone is always in the right spot. It’s hard to make a mistake when everyone’s kind of doing the right thing out there.”Isaac Ratcliffe; 2/21/2022
He won a critical board battle against Fast in the third period. It effectively resulted in an assist to Brown, tying the game 2-2.
4) Defensively, there are too many specialists. As a whole, Yandle and Ristolainen are offensive defensemen better reserved on the powerplay. Only one is needed.
Yandle showed his leadership against the Capitals, directing Mayhew to a powerplay goal. Tonight, he made a defensive play, saving a point for his team towards the standings. The Hurricanes made one extra pass, and Yandle disrupted on the backcheck. He receives a ton of criticism, but it was quite the even-strength play.
5) Neiderreiter located the puck first after it took a strange bounce off the boards, passing Sanheim on the way to the crease. His goal happened with 19:36 remaining in the second period.
We’ve been here before.
At 19:01 in the second period, Mayhew tied the game, 1-1. When a team scores during a Flyers game, don’t blink. There will be another in a minute or less.
6) Mayhew spent most of his time on the ice with Giroux and Atkinson. One of those shifts featured the mentioned goal to tie the game, 1-1.
“It’s always a lot better when you know you’ve played a good sixty minutes. If you lose a game, it still sucks, but at least there’s good things out of it.”Gerry Mayhew; 2/21/2022
They could have likely connected another time for a scoring play. Mayhew and Giroux create space, but the option is available for an unnecessary pass. Unfortunately, Giroux fell for that when he had a chance to shoot.
Defensively, there was a costly lapse when Teravainen scored. Overall, there’s room to be excited about Mayhew thriving on the top line with Giroux. Philadelphia doesn’t have to worry about a dynamic bottom six in the short term.
Giroux also played valuable minutes with Ratcliffe, which reflected a better pace. Mayhew may have scored on a line with Giroux, but he still plays best with Frost and Willman.
Willman disappeared today, though he played more minutes than Frost, MacEwen, and Ratcliffe.
7) Today was the first in five games that the penalty kill didn’t allow a goal.
Sanheim and Laughton nearly teamed up for a shorthanded goal, which would have been the first since Atkinson versus the Kings at the end of January.
8) Fast took a few checks before turning around and punching Ristolainen. Both received penalties, but the image of Ristolainen staring down Fast, not even budging, was iconic. It was as if he was about to say to Fast, “do you think that’s a good idea?”
9) Brown cited that MacEwen winning his fight against Cole sparked the bench. Following, Lindblom scored to tie the game, 3-3.
“That was awesome.”Patrick Brown; 2/21/2022
MacEwen continues to spark the Flyers. He was especially great with Brown and Ratcliffe in the first period. Observing that also means this: Ratcliffe played quality minutes no matter the line he was on.
10) Where does Lindblom fit in a healthy lineup? Typically, he would be a bottom-six player. Tonight, he thrived with Atkinson and Giroux but sank with Frost and Willman.
Giroux is the prime trade piece for Philadelphia. Is Lindblom a top six LW? Does he jump van Riemsdyk? Maybe, but we don’t know how veterans fit with the recalled players that found success. That’s the downfall of competing with the most injured roster in the NHL.
11) Nearly half of the overtime period expired before the Flyers possessed the puck. Atkinson had the best chance to win the game, but Andersen made the game-saving denial. Carolina had the bulk of the scoring chances and possessed the puck effectively.
Trocheck lifted a pass in the air to Pesce, who cradled the puck to his stick out of mid-air like receiving a lacrosse pass. That overtime finish came from an incredible offensive play in three-on-three hockey.
Either that or Philadelphia goes to a shootout without their skills contest king: Bunnaman.
Flyers 3, Hurricanes 4 (OT)
(Photo by Gavin Baker/Icon Sportswire)