Last night, the Philadelphia Flyers hoped to capitalize on the momentum from a 2-1 victory against the Washington Capitals. Instead, they were blanked by the Edmonton Oilers, 3-0.
The Flyers had chances but couldn’t finish. Against a top-ten offense, Philadelphia couldn’t score. They spent too much time in the penalty box, but to credit the penalty kill, going 4/5. Leon Draisaitl scored the game-winner, finessing a shot past Carter Hart with 2:19 remaining in the first period. I asked Hart about taking on Draisaitl from nearly the blue line:
“It was a good play by Draisaitl. He waited for our guy to skate in front of me as a screen and shot to the far side. It was a good play by him.”Carter Hart; 3/1/2022
Throughout, Hart was steady. The Flyers outshot the Oilers despite finishing with three fewer powerplays. Kailer Yamamoto crashed the net, barely getting his stick in front of Evander Kane, who made a distinct kicking motion at a puck resting in the crease with 4:50 remaining in the second period. Connor McDavid potted the empty net with 1:40 remaining in regulation.
Despite the 3-0 score, Edmonton never ran away with this game. It always seemed that if Philadelphia could score one, they could get back into the game. The Flyers once stressed a need for a “shoot first mentality,” but made last night easier on Mikko Koskinen.
Here are some observations from last night’s loss to the Oilers:
Light Work for Koskinen (-)
Whether it is even-strength or a powerplay (5v4 or 5v3,) the Philadelphia Flyers were turned away by Koskinen.
Derick Brassard used Gerry Mayhew as a screen, but Koskinen made the kick save. Then, there was the 5v3 featuring a chance from Keith Yandle, which Koskinen made a sprawling save. Cam Atkinson had a point-blank chance later in the game, but again, Koskinen swarmed the puck.
Joel Farabee had a couple of quality looks. A wrap-around and a one-timer were both denied by leg pads.
Golden opportunities were available to keep up with Draisaitl, Yamamoto, and McDavid. The follow-through was not. By volume, the shots were there. Aside from a handful of opportunities, Koskinen didn’t have to work hard. Mike Yeo echoed that exact sentiment.
Ristolainen Wants to Return?
On the 5v3, Rasmus Ristolainen was inserted by design. Yeo acknowledged that he has a booming shot. Why isn’t he a normal fixture on the powerplay instead of Ivan Provorov? Any deal offered to Ristolainen without a plan to insert him on the powerplay, accentuating his offensive skills is a violation; which is scary considering he reportedly denied an offer of six years, $6.3mil/AAV, but recently changed his mind:
Suddenly, the writing is on the wall. It looks like the Philadelphia Flyers’ plan to overpay Ristolainen is back on track.
Ristolainen was the best defenseman on the ice last night, however. His pair popped in the offensive zone and neutral zone. It’s easy to understand why scouts love his game, but analytics don’t. He used his big frame to sweep the porch on the penalty kill last night. Unfortunately, he began making more defensive plays after Draisaitl used him as a screen against Hart.
In the first and third periods, the Philadelphia Flyers were the better team. It didn’t show on the scoreboard, which is the endgame. Draisaitl scored on the powerplay and McDavid scored an empty-net goal in those particular periods.
Koskinen deserved to be the first star of the game last night for his performance. Unfortunately for him, he earned the second star.
The inability to convert while 5v3, but surrendering a goal 4v5 hurt. Offensively, the Flyers didn’t sustain offense in the zone for a long period. They’re fighting to win games with a fleeting offense. Most rushes were “one and done,” per Scott Laughton. Meanwhile, the Edmonton Oilers cycled the puck around the perimeter while bullying Philadelphia in the offensive zone.
The Flyers played relatively closely, but couldn’t cut any deficit.
Getting Too Cute (-)
Travis Sanheim and Claude Giroux commented about making too many passes or getting “too cute” on offense:
“We had a ton of chances. We may have tried to be too cute at times.”Travis Sanheim; 3/1/2022
Giroux mentioned that searching for the extra play meant there was a lack of confidence. “The extra play isn’t always the right play,” said Giroux.
If there is a silver lining, it’s that the Philadelphia Flyers didn’t panic. They worked for the finer play instead of making the one available. Towards the beginning of the season, Cam Atkinson beat the drum of a “shoot first” approach. On Thursday, the Flyers will play their 54th game of the season, bringing the same talking points back to the Wells Fargo Center to host the Minnesota Wild.
(Photo by Derek Cain/Icon Sportswire)