Since Mike Yeo has been the head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers, his team lost three games in the final two minutes. It’s a feat that hadn’t happened under Alain Vigneault in 2021-2022. Comparably, Vigneault coached 22 games, while Yeo completed his 44th game as the bench boss in last night’s 5-4 loss to the Nashville Predators.
More insufferable was that the Flyers led, 2-0, at the end of the first period. Morgan Frost forced a takeaway against Filip Forsberg, dishing to Travis Sanheim (1st; 17:45) to begin the scoring.
Then, Joel Farabee (1st; 2:33) extended his point streak to five games with a backhand goal in traffic. Farabee has the hot hand in his extended role, scoring seven points (3G, 4A) over his point streak.
Luke Kunin and Patrick Brown got into a scrum. It was the correct momentum shift as the Predators began to find their game. Yakov Trenin (2nd; 19:19) deflected a shot on goal by Roman Josi. Soon after, Max Willman (2nd; 17:37) blocked a shot from Matthew Benning before springing himself on an unassisted breakaway, beating Juuse Saros.
Then, Nashville picked up the pace. In the first period, the Flyers were opportunistic but couldn’t dictate play. It showed in the second when the Predators remained consistent in their game, scoring three unanswered goals: Trenin (2nd, 12:34,) Kunin (2nd; 11:48,) and Forsberg (2nd; 1:47.) Mikael Granlund made two incredible passes to set up Trenin and Kunin, while Forsberg deflected a shot from Alexandre Carrier. Before the end of the period, James van Riemsdyk (2nd; :47) knotted the game, 4-4.
As regulation elapsed, Philadelphia did improve. Unfortunately, the second period was too volatile. Nashville carried the momentum while remaining the better team. Hayden Hodgson tried to regain momentum back to his side but wasn’t successful in a scrum against Tanner Jeannot. Jeannot (3rd; 1:19) scored the game-winner, securing the 5-4 victory.
What fell out for the Flyers last night? That, and more, are discussed in these observations:
Puck Possession (-)
Teams who possess the puck will win more hockey games. That is an elementary fact of this sport. Two periods passed before the Philadelphia Flyers generated some pressure in the OZ. Incredibly, the Flyers were outshot 14-4 in the first period but led 2-0 at intermission.
Everything caught up to Philadelphia in the second period. Rasmus Ristolainen, who had a strong start, turned over the puck off a board battle, creating another possession for Josi to work. As a team, the Flyers didn’t turn over the puck as often (9TK, 6GV,) but they were lax defensively. Kevin Hayes was very slow in transition when Kunin scored, and Ivan Provorov didn’t clear Forsberg off the porch. There were three scoring plays where Philadelphia needed to execute better.
“We give them the opportunity to get to their game by needless turnovers.”Mike Yeo; 3/27/2022
It wasn’t exclusive to turnovers. It was the execution from the defense. Last night, the bottom didn’t fall out due to a lack of effort but a lack of implementation.
It’s frustrating. Yeo, in eloquent terms, feels the same.
A Tale of Two Stories (-)
Over the last five games, the Philadelphia Flyers have two feet in opposite ends of the spectrum. They score at an average of 3.4GF/60 (the Edmonton Oilers rank 7th at 3.39GF/60 on the season) and average 4GA/60 (.20 higher than the worst defensive team in the NHL, the Detroit Red Wings.) Giving away as many or more goals on average is not a recipe for success.
“We’ve been scoring goals, and I give our guys credit for that. We’ve lost some skill, but we’re still finding ways to score goals. It’s playing a complete game, as far as the execution, and making sure that we defend.”Mike Yeo; 3/27/2022
A goal scored is only as good as the defense preventing the opposition from achieving the same.
“The best offense is a good defense. You got to play defense first. At the end of the day, I think defense is what lost us this game tonight.”Joel Farabee; 3/27/2022
Solid defense doesn’t get the representation it sometimes deserves. Owen Tippett was one of the better defensive forwards last night. Keith Yandle may have been the best defenseman iced in the lineup. Both didn’t turn the puck over, contributing quality minutes to puck control. Limiting turnovers, clearing the crease, and hustling in transition were fundamental elements that ultimately cost the Flyers.
Morgan Frost (+)
“He’s been playing well on this road trip. I think his defensive game has grown exponentially this year. Definitely a lot to like from him.”Joel Farabee; 3/27/2022
Including last night, Frost has improved his overall game. Defensively, he swiped the puck from Forsberg to earn the primary assist when Sanheim scored. His hard work this week rewarded him with a point. Frost is trending in the right direction.
In his career, Frost owns a 48.3CF%. Over the last five games, he’s playing at a comparably above-average rate (49.9CF%.) He’s finding confidence, which is the ongoing battle.
“Whether it’s five-on-five, penalty kill, or powerplay; I’m just trying to take in all the knowledge from coaches or my teammates and try to apply it out there. If I can keep improving, earn a minor role on the penalty kill; that creates more ice time.”Morgan Frost; 3/27/2022
If 2019-2020 is still the peak version of Frost with the Philadelphia Flyers, then his current trajectory as of late suggests he is capable of finding that same stroke again.
Last night, the best forward line for the Flyers consisted of Oskar Lindblom, Frost, and Tippett. Since Tippett arrived in Philadelphia, he and Frost have worked well together.
(Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre)