Reese’s Remarks: Flyers Crash and Burn vs Montreal in OT

Flyers' Cam Atkinson
PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 20: Philadelphia Flyers Right Wing Cam Atkinson (89) skates with the puck during the first period of a National Hockey League game between the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers on October 20, 2021, at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Flyers cannot get their act in order.

Hosting the worst team in the NHL, the Montreal Canadiens, it seemed as if the Flyers had an opportunity to right some wrongs. Earlier this season, Cayden Primeau earned the victory over Carter Hart in a shootout. Last night, Samuel Montembeault got the decision in overtime.

You read that correctly. The Canadiens secured the season series against Philadelphia, and it’s even worse than it seems.

Kevin Hayes, Claude Giroux, and Cam Atkinson scored for the Flyers. With Philadelphia on the powerplay, Montembeault went to the bench to make the odds more favorable with an extra attacker. Rem Pitlick scored with :47 seconds left in regulation. What transpired on the Flyers’ defense during that shift was inexcusable. As a defenseman, you never take yourself out of a play, erasing an opportunity to recover.

Rasmus Ristolainen did that often. He didn’t learn after he missed a body check on Nick Suzuki, who scored his second in as many periods. Travis Sanheim and Mike Yeo said Ristolainen needed to make that play, leaving his skates to slide through a passing lane. Be kind and rewind; it sounds like a team effort to justify the 5yr/$25.5mil extension following a 4-3 overtime loss, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Frost and Giroux Chemistry (+)

A telling sign of a good performance is when a player earns more ice time than average. Morgan Frost did that last night, notching an assist. Who scored the goal? To the surprise of absolutely nobody, it was Claude Giroux.

Travis Konecny won the puck battle on the forecheck, resetting the offensive zone possession by cycling the puck to Frost. Giroux recovered, received a quick dish from Frost, and finished with a goal for his 900th career point.

There isn’t any denying that Derick Brassard is playing at a high level, but there’s a lot more riding on the future of the Philadelphia Flyers if Frost inserts into the lineup.

He battled on the top line, too. Frost won his faceoff opportunity and finished with an additional hit and blocked shot. He executed his portion of the deal.

Every season, when you observe the scoring log for Frost, Giroux also appears in nearly half of the scoring plays. This season, Giroux contributes to 50% of the total points tallied by Frost. They have undeniable chemistry, and the opportunity to play with Giroux, who averages .9PPG just before his one-thousandth game, is invaluable. If Giroux is still a Flyer by the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline, he’ll likely take on a mentor role to Frost. Other teams must realize the chemistry between Giroux and Frost, making sense to rent one and trade for the other.

Rasmus Ristolainen (-)

Let’s rip the band-aid off of this one real quick. Ristolainen was awful last night. Even if I supported the trade to bring him into Philadelphia, which I didn’t, I couldn’t justify the new extension with his performance against the Montreal Canadiens. His performance was in lockstep with the scoreboard. Four days ago, Chuck Fletcher inked him to a 5yr/$25.5mil extension, a pay cut from his current average annual value of $5.4mil.

Suzuki swiftly accelerated by Ristolainen before tying the game, 2-2. Ristolainen sold Suzuki like he was in a spin cycle. An attempt at a pinch went south, and Suzuki had all the time and space to take a shot, grab the rebound, and score.

Then, a shorthanded goal by Pitlick was the cherry on top. Sanheim took the heat, and Yeo doubled down that it was the right play to attempt by Ristolainen. I don’t buy it. A defenseman should never leave their feet, omitting a chance to recover.

Brassard took away the passing lane from Jeff Petry but backed off when he saw Ristolainen sliding in. It was the equivalent of a “flying nothing” in pro-wrestling, where the body is thrown at an opponent, hoping for the best.

“They got a pretty good look off the hop, so Risto has to long body or slide to deny that play, so he ends up in the corner. I think we still had a chance to be first on the puck, but we end up losing it. Instead of coming into the house and stopping, we were playing on the move.”

Mike Yeo; 3/13/2022

The Montreal Canadiens needed the extra attacker to even the score on a Philadelphia Flyers powerplay, but, Ristolainen made it a shorthanded scenario when he took himself out of that play, going for the desperate play over the smart, defensive one.

Sending a Message (-)

Or, even worse, message not received.

“We spent a long time this morning talking about showing a team like Florida, showing a team like Carolina. You know, the things that you do to win games. And still, before that moment in the game, I’m sure you guys probably agree, it’s not like we all felt real good about our game. Even when we have the lead. So, again, we’re going to have to keep finding ways to get players to understand that you can play the way you want to play, or you can play to win hockey.”

Mike Yeo; 3/13/2022

In a quote, this is a microcosm of Yeo and the Philadelphia Flyers all season long. Some players respond better than others, and we’ll see those adjustments this week. That final line resonates, however. “You can play the way you want to play, or you can play to win hockey,” calls out ineffective leadership.

Almost specifically, Yeo called out the defense. Precisely the turnovers, which hand-deliver scoring chances versus talented teams.

“Our defensive game is getting better, and blah, blah, blah. That’s nice. That’s what you have to do. That’s what you’re supposed to do. And there’s a way to play with the puck where you’re not turning it over and giving free ice and giving freebies to a team that, you know, obviously has skill. We still refuse to do that.”

Mike Yeo; 3/13/2022

Of the Flyers defensemen, Ivan Provorov turns the puck over most often. No one should be surprised by that statistic. However, he nearly doubles Sanheim in turnovers, who is second on the team.

Maybe some starters need to be scratched, demoted, or see ice time diminish. Yeo is running out of answers to the same questions. Who can blame him!? If he’s going to find some truth out of this lost season, then it’s time to shake up the foundation. No one is safe.

“Just keep finding ways; take ice time away, put guys on the fourth line, scratch guys if we have to. I don’t know if we have enough to call guys up. There’s veteran players we’re going to have to talk to.”

Mike Yeo; 3/13/2022

(Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)