Before the faceoff against the Colorado Avalanche, the Philadelphia Flyers scratched Travis Konecny from their lineup. Following the game, Mike Yeo updated, “a lower-body injury, day-to-day.”
A precursor to the contest, “unfortunate” became a theme from the news about Konecny to the puck deflections off the stick of Flyers defensemen. The Avalanche dictated the pace of the entire game, officially beginning their night with Nazem Kadri (1st; 12:40) using Nick Seeler as a screen at the high slot. However, James van Riemsdyk (1st; 6:58) had the rebounding redeemer.
Soon after, Cale Makar (1st; 6:14) walked the blue line on the powerplay, scoring with traffic in front of Carter Hart. Then, JT Compher (1st, 3:43) tried to cross a pass through the crease to Kadri, but it deflected off of Seeler and into the net. Another unfortunate deflection off of Keith Yandle on a pass intended for Valeri Nichushkin served as a goal for Mikko Rantanen (1st; 1:54.) Colorado scored four unanswered goals, including one directly off a faceoff win at the blue line from Kurtis MacDermid (2nd, 7:41.)
Down, 5-1, Cam York threaded the needle to Zack MacEwen (2nd, :31) to curate a breakaway goal.
Though the Avalanche won, 6-3, Hart performed better than statistics show. Most saves he made in the second and third periods belonged in a circus. Travis Sanheim effectively gets in on the rush in the OZ, rewarded with an assist on a great second effort by Max Willman (3rd, 12:16.) Colorado had the last laugh on a cruel joke, winning the game and scoring the final goal. Of course, it was Makar (3rd, 8:25.)
How does an elite NHL team look? They look like the Colorado Avalanche. How does a 2022 NHL Draft Lottery team look? They look like the Philadelphia Flyers. It would have taken a near-perfect game for the Flyers to compete with the Avalanche.
“I thought we definitely worked hard. It’s just a matter of executing the little details against a team like that on the second end of a back-to-back. You’re not going to have much room for error.”James van Riemsdyk; 3/25/2022
Are they capable? Sure, Philadelphia beat a couple of good teams since the 2022 NHL All-Star break. The Washington Capitals, Nashville Predators, and St. Louis Blues fell to the Flyers because they capitalized on every chance on those nights. Last night was a more accurate depiction of where Philadelphia stands as a hockey franchise versus powerhouse outfit from Colorado.
The Flyers have one win against the top five teams in the league (at Carolina Hurricanes; 11/12/2021.) They’re unable to touch the Avalanche and the Florida Panthers but have one more chance at the least to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers. Three of the top five teams in the league are Metropolitan Division rivals and will remain an obstacle for Philadelphia for the foreseeable future.
Hodgson and Tippett (+)
These two swarm the net. Hayden Hodgson and Owen Tippett continue to put pressure on goaltenders in their short time on the Philadelphia Flyers. Hodgson found the back of the net against the St. Louis Blues, while Tippett found the post. These are the latest couple of young players that present excitement amongst forwards in the OZ.
In his press conference, van Riemsdyk mentioned how fun it was to watch the Colorado Avalanche play their style of hockey. Why not learn and adopt? It’s not a mistake that the Avalanche are still contending for a Stanley Cup with a top-five powerplay and offense.
“They kept coming in waves and they play a pretty fun brand of hockey with the way they move the puck around and create passing lanes, options for each other.”James van Riemsdyk; 3/25/2022
Colorado has unmatched poise. Tippett and Hodgson tried to match that energy. Defensively, Sanheim and York became more creative with the puck, too. It will be a shame if the next Flyers coach discounts organic growth within the lineup. Yeo wouldn’t be a bad investment as an assistant coach because of how most of these younger prospects perform in the NHL on his watch.
Faceoff Success (-)
Against the Colorado Avalanche, the best faceoff forward in the lineup for the Philadelphia Flyers was Patrick Brown. Considering the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline and the injury report, Brown was the only skater in the lineup with more than a hundred faceoff wins and a win percentage greater than 50% (57.2%.)
“Faceoffs killed us tonight against a team like that. Starting with the puck is real big.”Mike Yeo; 3/25/2022
Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux won the bulk of faceoffs for years. Currently, Couturier is out for the rest of this season, and Giroux is chasing a Stanley Cup with the Florida Panthers. Lacking a couple of players to steal extra possessions is a team need from the forward market this offseason. Possession is the best way of playing defense while still on the attack.
Couturier will be back, and Giroux could be. Ruling out a return to the Flyers for Giroux is premature. A team-friendly deal and reunion, if it makes sense, does make Philadelphia better.
(Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre)