Taking on the Toronto Maple Leafs without Auston Matthews and Jake Muzzin, the Philadelphia Flyers had their best chance of upsetting the team with the best powerplay in the league. Strike while the irony is hot, right? Not quite.
Lingering flaws from the Buffalo Sabres back-to-back over Easter weekend reared their head last night. The Sabres were able to convert on the powerplay, a critical reason behind their victories. In two games, the Flyers gave up four powerplay goals against Buffalo.
Against the best powerplay in the league last night, it wasn’t a matter of if the Maple Leafs would score on the powerplay. It was a matter of when they would score on the powerplay and how often. Philadelphia did improve their penalty kill, but William Nylander and Mitch Marner propeled the offense with the man-advantage. At that point, Toronto took a 2-1 lead that became a 3-1 lead before the second period finished.
James van Riemsdyk and Ronnie Attard accounted for both of the Flyers’ goals against Jack Campbell. Ilya Mikheyev scored the empty-net to ice the game, 5-2.
Undisciplined Hockey (-)
How the Philadelphia Flyers approached the start to their games lately is much improved. They seem to match the energy of their opponents. The Toronto Maple Leafs are heavily talented, even without their superstar. However, an NHL and AHL hybrid lineup held their own in the first period.
“I thought we battled hard tonight. Some breakdowns cost us. They’re a talented team, and they finished on some plays. Overall, I thought the effort was pretty good. Some bad breakdowns led to goals, and that was the difference tonight.”Martin Jones; 4/19/2022
Defensive positioning miscues spiraled as the second period moved on. Wayne Simmonds, Mark Giordano, and Jason Spezza put Keith Yandle on his back like a turtle after Owen Tippett turned the puck over in the neutral zone. The average age of the Maple Leafs’ contributing to that scoring play is 36.3-years-old. Talented for sure, but if you watch the play, nobody should be in that state of turmoil:
Combine that effort with Toronto’s five powerplays, and it was an undisciplined recipe for disaster. Credit Martin Jones for only allowing four goals, three of which he didn’t have much of a chance at saving.
“Last time we played against them, we only took one penalty. We got to do a better job of making sure we’re not putting ourselves in a tough position like that.”Mike Yeo; 4/19/2022
Kevin Connauton (-)
At this point, most of us are waiting out the rest of the season. While doing so, it’s worth noting which players could have a place on the roster next season. Zack MacEwen is a waiver acquisition that fits the Philadelphia Flyers perfectly. Another one, and admittedly it’s a stretch, could’ve been Kevin Connauton. Attard will need more time in the AHL, where Yegor Zamula and Cam York could grow on the bottom pair.
Connauton wouldn’t be a bad option as a seventh defenseman. He can play both sides of the ice and proved to be a better veteran option with the prospects than Yandle or Nick Seeler.
Yesterday, he made a play at the boards, but was in pain afterward. After leaving the ice, he never returned to the game. Mike Yeo gave this answer regarding his status:
“Not good, he’s got a lower-body injury. Don’t have a full diagnosis for you, but I would say he’s going to miss some time here.”Mike Yeo; 4/19/2022
Without Connauton, the Flyers might have to make an emergency recall if York or Rasmus Ristolainen aren’t healthy to return. That would leave Adam Clendening or Wyatte Wylie.
Attard Recovers (+)
Jones didn’t receive much help from his defense against the Toronto Maple Leafs. There were too many Philadelphia Flyers’ skaters passively approaching board battles, a plethora of wide open passing lanes, and other defensive follies with a sprinkle of unluckiness.
Attard finished with a +2 rating. It’s significant because he debuted against the Maple Leafs at the Wells Fargo Center to the tune of a -4 rating. He needs more time to develop with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms but get excited about the cannon shot he possesses:
There’s a case that Attard might have been the most impressive Flyers’ skater against Toronto.
(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)