Reese’s Remarks: Flyers Split Back-to-Back vs PIT and at CHI

Flyers' Felix Sandstrom
Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Felix Sandstrom deflects the puck with his stick during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks, Monday, April 25, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

It took more than a month and a half, but the Philadelphia Flyers compiled a two-game winning streak. Defeating the Montreal Canadiens and the Pittsburgh Penguins by a three-goal margin, Mike Yeo crafted a young line that found chemistry. Enter “The Kids Line,” made up of Noah Cates, Morgan Frost, and Owen Tippett.

One more win, a day after defeating the Penguins, would’ve matched the best winning streak since Yeo became the interim head coach of the Flyers. Coincidentally, Yeo was already successful versus the Chicago Blackhawks.

Unfortunately for Philadelphia, the Blackhawks did earn the victory, 3-1. Puck possession was a critical issue against a team that can be lethal in transition. While the penalty kill rose to the challenge, playing shorthanded doesn’t present favorable odds. Stick taps for going 5/5 on the penalty kill, including circus saves from Felix Sandstrom.

Following the back-to-back, here are Reese’s Remarks:

“The Kids Line” (+)

Yeo made it a point to put his prospects on the same line together. They thrived against the Montreal Canadiens and remained hot versus the Pittsburgh Penguins. Cates had a breakout performance against a playoff team (2G, 1A.) Frost practically admits to regaining confidence (1G, 1A.) Tippett might be a tad snakebitten as a goal scorer, but he facilitates good offensive possessions (1A.)

This line combines for eight points in the last three games. Frost scored against the Canadiens from an assist by Cates.

“They’re both really great players. We’re all kind of in the same boat. We’re all a little younger and trying to make our mark in the league.”

Morgan Frost; 4/24/2022

Chuck Fletcher signed Cates on March 28th, 2022. Through fourteen games, he has nine points, including a game-winner. Yeo may have sensed that the kids weren’t playing freely with the veterans. Considering the answer from Cates after defeating the Penguins, Yeo might’ve read the room perfectly.

“It’s nice to be around some younger guys. It feels a little easier to talk to those guys, and they’re a little younger and a little bit more personable.”

Noah Cates; 4/24/2022

After all, it is an intelligent decision from Yeo. Get the future together and let them run wild. They’ve meshed, and further lineup changes aren’t likely with two games remaining and the injuries at hand.

The Value of Depth

Yeo pointed out how deep the Pittsburgh Penguins are.

“You’re looking through their lineup at the start of the game: their number one centerman has three Stanley Cups, their number two centerman has three Stanley Cups, their number three centerman has a couple himself, and they got a real good fourth line. A very deep team.”

Mike Yeo; 4/24/2022

Good on him for giving the credit where it is due. Pointing this out isn’t just knocking on the front office’s door to acquire high-end talent; it’s repeatedly ringing the doorbell until someone answers. There was a bid to change the culture by adding veteran leadership. The assignment is to change the culture by adding proven winners.

Yes, a very depleted Philadelphia Flyers team defeated the Penguins. Sure, there could be skaters iced from that game who fit the bill to improve the Flyers. There is still a ton of money locked into contracts of increasingly unstable skaters, and Philadelphia needs to make room.

Fletcher will have a busy offseason in attempting to “aggressively retool.” Additionally, the Flyers will be searching for a head coach.

Inconsistent Discipline (-)

Chalk this under growing pains. The Philadelphia Flyers were 2/2 on the penalty kill versus the Pittsburgh Penguins, then 5/5 against the Chicago Blackhawks. Stick taps to them, but the increased shorthanded time against the Blackhawks sank the Flyers.

“We spent too much time in the box. It’s tough to mount a comeback when you’re trying to kill penalties constantly.”

Mike Yeo; 4/25/2022

Jonathan Toews scored on his release from the penalty box. While Philadelphia did their job, killing the penalty, a high-end veteran like Toews knows to jump the breakaway in transition from where he was. It was a heads-up play, recognizing the turnover by Bobby Brink. Poor puck possession led to more mistakes. Sandstrom kept his team in the game while being the backbone behind a successful penalty kill.

In the back-to-back, the more disciplined team one. It’s why the Flyers split the consecutive games instead of sweeping them.

Felix Sandstrom (+)

He has yet to win an NHL game, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t impressed. Owning a 0-3-1 record in 2021-2022, he carries a 3.27GAA and a 91.4%SV. He mirrored his performance versus the New York Rangers, complete with stunning saves to keep the Philadelphia Flyers within reach.

“He did a hell of a job to settle into the game and really gave us a chance. Some huge saves throughout the course of the night, especially on the penalty kill.”

Mike Yeo; 4/25/2022

Sandstrom is in a sink or swim situation. Right now, he’s swimming. Of his current body of work, three of his four starts statistically catalogue as quality. I mentioned earlier that the Flyers must become more cost efficient. Sandstrom makes a case to tandem with a healthy Carter Hart in 2022-2023.

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)