Last night, the Philadelphia Flyers officially missed the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs for back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1992-1994.
It’s a factoid. If you’re on the Flyers, it’s not something tracking your focus. Morgan Frost wasn’t aware of the trivia:
“I think we’re probably focused on other things. I didn’t know that.”Morgan Frost; 3/29/2022
No kidding. The Minnesota Wild cruised to a 4-0 lead after two periods.
Travis Sanheim turned Kevin Fiala away from the slot but didn’t return to Matthew Boldy, who located Matt Dumba (1st; 5:31) for the quick goal in a high danger area. Then, on the powerplay, Kirill Kaprizov (1st; 3:37) used Joel Eriksson Ek as a screen on Martin Jones effectively to score. Later, Eriksson Ek remained relevant on the ice, forcing a rebound that allowed Jordan Greenway (2nd; 18:25) to go five-hole with a backhand. Finally, Fiala (2nd; 1:11) scores an incredible one-time ripper on a difficult angle as the Flyers were pending a delayed penalty.
Not to be shut out, Philadelphia did score one. Frost (3rd; 15:39) had a powerplay goal, simultaneously blowing up a DZ clearing attempt by Jared Spurgeon. Many quality scoring chances were missed against Marc-Andre Fleury, whether he made a circus save or the puck went high and wide. The road trip was unsuccessful (1-4-0,) but the Flyers did match a month high in team wins for the season.
Noah Cates (+)
Yeo made an undisputed statement reflecting a quality debut from Noah Cates:
“For a first game, it’s a game that builds trust from a coach, and obviously from his teammates. Real good debut for him.”Mike Yeo; 3/29/2022
Cates was careful with the puck. He didn’t turn it over against a Minnesota Wild team on a seven-game win streak. In front of his friends and family, Cates displayed a physical and defensive brand of hockey in 14:01 of total ice time.
“That first one maybe was a little rough. I tried to make it a quick shift and get to the game.”Noah Cates; 3/29/2022
He stood out with Cam York, another young recall, from the opening minutes. Cates was a constant for the Philadelphia Flyers last night, elevating veterans on his line.
In the third period, Yeo placed Cates on the top line. Joel Farabee and Cam Atkinson played their best minutes alongside Cates. Farabee and Atkinson weren’t moving the needle with James van Riemsdyk. Yeo adjusted, swapping the two.
Yeo and Atkinson spoke last night following the loss. There are two schools of thought: a lack of execution or the team panics in the face of adversity. A lack of implementation comes from a momentary lapse. The mental fragility to panic at the drop of a hat is a different, substantial issue.
“It’s not enough to create the turnover. We got to find a way to execute and advance the puck so we can get off the ice, because in the second period, we keep getting caught in those traps.”Mike Yeo; 3/29/2022
The Philadelphia Flyers were outshot in the second period, 13-4. Miraculously, the Minnesota Wild didn’t score another powerplay goal. Nick Seeler was picked on very often, but Travis Konecny, Farabee, Cates, and Jones stopped the bleeding momentarily. The Flyers couldn’t create much of anything offensively. Their best chance was following a penalty kill, where Rasmus Ristolainen had an opportunity turned away by Fleury.
“I think we just took our foot off the gas pedal. Panic set in for no reason. Obviously, we can’t do that. We showed what we can do in the first fifteen; playing fast, wanting the puck, and trying to make plays.”Cam Atkinson; 3/29/2022
Dumba scored, and Philadelphia felt they were bottoming out. It erased an otherwise strong start by the Flyers. Down, 1-0, it’s a sin to take the foot off the gas.
It’s a sin to do that if you’re leading. Clearly, the Wild felt the same.
Finding the Silver Lining
Despite a 1-4-0 record on the road trip, Yeo isn’t disappointed in the performance of his team. He’s pretty aware of the point of the rest of this season; to get better. However, one game did sour his words:
“I’m not disappointed in any of the games where I felt we played poorly except for the Colorado game. We’re 1-4 on this trip; can’t be happy about that. We’re going against real good teams and I thought that there was positives.”Mike Yeo; 3/29/2022
In a word: parity. The Philadelphia Flyers are lightyears away from the top team in the NHL, and it was humbling.
Losing at the faceoff circle was a real issue against the Avalanche. It was the same story last night. The Minnesota Wild were better in every regard to the sport. To put the Flyers in perspective: a win last night would have been their sixth in March, good for their most winningest month of the 2021-2022 season.
(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)