Last night showed the discrepancy between a Stanley Cup contender and the Philadelphia Flyers. It had nothing to do with roster health; I would argue that the Florida Panthers are on the short end of that stick. The offensive system, particularly on the powerplay, is lightyears ahead of anything the Flyers have installed.
Carter Hart was bombarded relentlessly by the Panthers. Carter Verhaeghe and Sam Reinhart teamed up for four goals in the first period. Against the Vegas Golden Knights, Hart stopped a high volume of shots. Florida is another high-volume team, but Philadelphia didn’t help themselves out by playing a disciplined brand of hockey. After one period, the powerplay and penalty kill were both 0/2.
After the first intermission and losing Scott Laughton to a crushing hit, the Flyers responded with three goals. They were the antithesis of the brand of hockey they displayed in the first period. Suddenly, they won more puck battles in the neutral zone, turning into explosive scoring chances. James van Riemsdyk, Cam Atkinson, and Travis Konecny made up for the scoring.
Anthony Duclair scored on the powerplay in the third period after the puck took a bad bounce off of Patrick Brown’s stick. Reinhart completed his hat trick with an empty-net goal on the way to downing Philadelphia 6-3.
Murphy’s Law (-)
“In any field of endeavor, anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”
We’re familiar with Murphy’s Law. In the first period last night, so were the Philadelphia Flyers.
Reinhart and Verhaeghe both scored twice. An offensive onslaught never allowed Hart a chance to breathe. The Florida Panthers lived in the offensive zone because they won puck battles and forced turnovers in transition. At the end of the first period, the Flyers somehow mustered more shots on goal but were undisciplined, outmanned, and overwhelmed.
“We got to get the puck two-hundred-feet. Both times we had the opportunity to get the puck all the way down the ice, we didn’t. One time, we allowed them a short transition against us, and the other time, when we have the opportunity to get the puck down and out of our zone, we don’t.”Mike Yeo; 3/10/2022
For those who ask why we’re obsessed with two-hundred-foot players, it’s because those kinds of efforts can start a comeback, keep a team in a game, or be the difference between being on the winning end of a close contest.
Philadelphia creates pressure by striking in the neutral zone. When they couldn’t win the puck battles, the Panthers pulled away. Two-hundred-foot players get the pucks deep and usually enter zones cleanly; a foreign concept.
Second Period Savagery (+)
Every goal began with an intelligent two-hundred-foot play. Kevin Hayes set up van Riemsdyk, Atkinson kept with a rebound following a shot from Derick Brassard. The exception is Konecny on the powerplay.
“That second period was probably the best second period we’ve played all year. I thought the way that we came out in the second period, the aggressiveness we played with was a real positive.”Mike Yeo; 3/10/2022
The Philadelphia Flyers learned quickly from the Florida Panthers.
Hayes forced a turnover in the offensive zone for van Riemsdyk. Claude Giroux stopped a clearing attempt, setting Brassard up to unleash a shot on Sergei Bobrovsky, ultimately batted in by Atkinson. Then, York was decisive on the powerplay with Rasmus Ristolainen, shooting towards Konecny in traffic to convert a powerplay. The Flyers made it a game by becoming aggressive and opportunistic like the Panthers were.
“We simplified our approach in the second period and ended up scoring three goals. By doing those things, you’re not limiting yourself, you’re not taking away creativity; you just have to be smart enough to take what the other team’s giving you.”Mike Yeo; 3/10/2022
Mike Yeo sent that message to the locker room during the first intermission. Next thing you know, Philadelphia made it a game, down 4-3.
Against a Stanley Cup contender like Florida, these are the vital signs Yeo needed to see. Philadelphia responded with passion. As the roster gets healthier, it’s easier to battle back. Recalled players bought into Yeo all season long. Now, it looks like the locker room is buying in based on the performance from this second period.
Frost Replaces Laughton (+)
First and foremost, Hart and the rest of the team agree on one thing about Scott Laughton:
“He’s a heart and soul player on our team. You never want to see anybody go down like that.”Carter Hart; 3/10/2022
He took a solid, clean check from Petteri Lindbohm early in the second period. Konecny stood up for Laughton, fighting Lindbohm. It sparked an inspired second period from the Philadelphia Flyers.
Today, Morgan Frost received the call from the Flyers. He makes perfect sense to replace Laughton.
Frost must get playing time at the NHL level. Unfortunately, it’s always been at the cost of a player injury. He needs to pop in this stint. This opportunity is for a featured role with Philadelphia if Giroux leaves, or Frost can increase his value ahead of the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline. I noted previously how in sync Frost is with Giroux throughout his career, making sense to package in a trade including the captain.
Ivan Provorov (-)
Should Ivan Provorov be the 1LD for the Philadelphia Flyers? I’ve pondered this question too many times this season for comfort.
His turnovers have been a glaring issue throughout his career. Without Ryan Ellis to compensate, it’s magnified his weaknesses. In asking the question about Provorov, it begs another. Should Travis Sanheim swap with him?
He wasn’t on the powerplay, finally. We all wanted to see what the powerplay could do if Ristolainen or York were on. They were both present for Konecny’s deflection goal.
Where was Provorov? He manned the penalty kill. The Florida Panthers converted every powerplay opportunity. Are we sure Provorov, who turns the puck over routinely, was meant to kill penalties? The experiment was catastrophic.
Provorov cannot stand on his own, unbecoming of the core player meant to be.
(Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre)