Even though the odds favored the Montreal Canadiens, last night was a battle between two bad teams that the Philadelphia Flyers should have won, and they did.
Each period played out as chaotic as you would think. James van Riemsdyk secured my anytime goalscorer prop bet immediately before Ivan Provorov snapped another for an early 2-0 lead. Then, one of the most inexcusable things happened:
I’m not referring to the Canadiens scoring with Carey Price as the goaltender in 2021-2022. I’m referring to the handpass by Brendan Gallagher to Mike Hoffman. It should have disqualified the goal, but the officiating crew told Mike Yeo that he could not challenge the scoring play. As it turns out, and Yeo seemed to believe it at the time, he could have challenged it, and the officiating crew made an error. The fix was in; the Flyers literally were handed better lottery odds at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.
“I’m not going to dodge a question, but we knew it was a handpass.”Mike Yeo; 4/21/2022
Montreal tied the game, but Oskar Lindblom regained the lead with his fiftieth career goal. Linus Hogberg notched his first career NHL point with an assist on the scoring play.
Overall, Philadelphia snapped a six-game losing streak, defeating the Canadiens for the first time this season. It was a complete performance against a team they should have beaten. Learning how to win these games has been a teaching point from Yeo all season. Holding onto a 6-3 victory has proven to be more difficult than it should, but the Flyers earned the decision.
Linus Hogberg (+)
Another prospect made an impact in 2021-2022. Hogberg was an emergency recall after Kevin Connauton went down with an injury against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hogberg had a successful debut, notching his first career NHL assist. His performance showed he has the potential to hang in the NHL but should further develop with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in 2022-2023.
“I thought that they all played very well for us tonight. All of our young guys, including Hoggy. For his first NHL game, he provided a lot of stability for us.”Mike Yeo; 4/21/2022
Keith Yandle played 7:01 of last night’s game. Hogberg was on the ice for 17:25, getting familiar with the NHL pace. Yeo rewarded him with more ice time as the game progressed. The point of these final games is to see what the Philadelphia Flyers have in their system and how they fit with the current mold. The Montreal Canadiens, now on a seven-game losing streak, was the perfect opponent for incoming prospects.
Notching an assist and a plus-one rating, Hogberg also blocked three shots. His growth and development are worth getting excited about, which is a growing theme amongst the Flyers’ farm system.
Flyers Powerplay (-)
We’re all very aware that the Philadelphia Flyers ice the worst powerplay in the league. There are some penalty kill units that score at a higher rate than the Flyers’ powerplay. It is a fundamental flaw, not exclusive to new prospects.
Philadelphia is 1/31 in the last ten games with a man-advantage. They’ve allowed three shorthanded goals (New York Rangers, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Toronto Maple Leafs.)
“It’s one thing that they’re not scoring, but we’re actually giving up more chances. That’s got to stop.”Mike Yeo; 4/21/2022
The Montreal Canadiens are one of the few teams with a worse penalty kill than the Flyers, yet they lacked a powerplay conversion last night. You can tell that the unit is lax on the ice. They’re looking for every avenue to score a goal but abandoning the details to prevent an odd-man rush in transition. Martin Jones stood on his head, denying the Canadiens through a wave of favorable OZ entries.
On paper, the statistics for the goaltending in Philadelphia do not do the eye test justice.
Ronnie Attard (+)
His offensive production at the NHL level is a surprise. When the Philadelphia Flyers recalled Ronnie Attard, I was more attracted to his defensive style. A two-way defender, Attard was on the top powerplay and penalty kill units in college.
Attard has two goals and assists, most recently a clean pass to Travis Konecny before scorching Carey Price. Konecny praised Attard for his patience and vision, letting us know that he’s the kind of defenseman who looks to make a play.
“The thing that I like is he’s looking to make plays. Sometimes he’s just got to differentiate when it’s time to make a play and when not, but I love that when he gets the puck, he’s trying to make a play. It showed on my goal. He had an opportunity to get it deep, and he kind of waited out with patience and found me in the middle of the ice.”Travis Konecny; 4/21/2022
Differentiating when and when not to make a play will come with more experience and development. Attard will receive more seasoning with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in 2022-2023. The defensive depth within the Flyers system is quality. More impressive was Attard against the Toronto Maple Leafs earlier this week, earning a plus-two rating while scoring a goal. He redeemed his effort from his debut, where he was a minus-four versus the same team.
Brink, van Riemsdyk, and the Future of the Flyers PP (+)
Bobby Brink might be the prospect that unlocks more production from a veteran like van Riemsdyk. It’s always beautiful to hear a veteran player outright state that they’re having fun on the same line as a prospect. Another example in recent history was Scott Laughton praising Noah Cates. Here’s what van Riemsdyk said about Brink:
“You see him get more comfortable game-by-game in a hockey sense; just knowing the right way to play, the right times to make the right plays. It’s been a lot of fun to play on the same line.”James van Riemsdyk; 4/21/2022
Feel how you want to feel about van Riemsdyk, but his line is consistently one of the best in the Philadelphia Flyers lineup as of late. With the exception of the shutout loss to the New York Rangers, prospects on a line with van Riemsdyk are playing some of their best even-strength hockey. Brink seems to be the most stable prospect with van Riemsdyk, but Owen Tippett is another contributor.
Don’t get it twisted; Chuck Fletcher should still move van Riemsdyk to dump his salary without hesitation. Until then, let van Riemsdyk continue to hum with Brink and Tippett.
On the worst powerplay unit in the league, van Riemsdyk still offers the best mentorship for future prospects who might contribute to special teams.
Response to Adversity (+)
Oh right, back to this mess called NHL officiating.
Yeo, at the time, knew it was a handpass. Everyone at home knew it, too. Even the Montreal Canadiens’ regional broadcast commentary team couldn’t understand how the goal stood. Then, it was made clear. The officials told Yeo he couldn’t challenge because, as it turns out, the NHL officials don’t know the rules.
“I don’t know what the deal was there, if that’s supposed to get reviewed. I don’t think we were allowed to challenge it, but it looked pretty obvious to me. I don’t know if it hit something after he gloved it, but I think that was a pretty clear miss. We responded well and just kept playing. We didn’t let it phase us too much. We haven’t done that enough this year, but tonight we were able to just keep playing.”James van Riemsdyk; 4/21/2022
Many of the players commented about remaining vigilant despite an awful call by the officiating crew. Often, the sky is falling, and the Philadelphia Flyers can’t get out from this perpetual raincloud. The Flyers warded off that defeatist mentality last night and stuck to their guns. Lindblom took back the lead, and Philadelphia never looked back.
By the way, why handpass for an assist when your team has better odds in the upcoming 2022 NHL Entry Draft, Gallagher? The Canadiens were essentially spotted a goal by the NHL officials and still lost to one of the worst Flyers teams to exist in my lifetime. Yikes.
(Photo Credit: Alex McIntyre)