Reese’s Remarks: Flyers Split Season Series Against Jets

Flyers' Felix Sandstrom
Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Felix Sandstrom makes a save Winnipeg Jets’ Blake Wheeler (26) as Keith Yandle (3) defends during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, April 27, 2022, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. (John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)

One more game remains. Usually, it is heartbreaking when a team misses the postseason. Not this season. The Philadelphia Flyers had a perpetual cloud over their head throughout 2021-2022. Finally, there is an end in sight.

What is this Flyers team? They’re scratching the bottom of the barrell in the NHL. There are more issues to address during the 2022 NHL offseason. This time, Chuck Fletcher has fewer resources.

Eric Comrie recorded his first NHL shutout in his first game versus Philadelphia. By a score of 4-0, the Winnipeg Jets soared. The season is ending, not with a bang but with a whimper.

One more remains versus the Ottawa Senators on Friday. Before then, let’s reflect on the loss against the Jets.

All Out (-)

“You can tell we didn’t have all of our jump here tonight,” said Mike Yeo. That began when the Winnipeg Jets scored on the powerplay. Prior to that, Travis Konecny was attacking and defending, bringing energy. The snowball effect started once the Philadelphia Flyers became undisciplined. Down 1-0 at the end of the first period, a comeback wasn’t out of the question.

“We didn’t seem to have the energy to come back, that’s for sure.”

Mike Yeo; 4/27/2022

Those poor trends continued through the second period. Ronnie Attard served for hooking before Ivan Provorov sat for high sticking. On the 5v3 advantage, the Jets converted after a few shots on goal. Nikolaj Ehlers swarmed Felix Sandstrom before he made the Flyers pay.

Philadelphia gift-wrapped high danger opportunities to Winnipeg. Aside from Konecny, Kevin Hayes was other notable veteran forward. Offensively, the Flyers are unbalanced because what veterans are on the ice aren’t syncing with the prospects.

Noah Cates said something interesting earlier this week:

“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

A little bit of food for thought: are the prospects meshing with the veterans? It’s critical to weave proven winners this offseason to salvage the immediate future of Philadelphia hockey.

Too Predictable (-)

Say what you will about Alain Vigneault and the prior issue surrounding the Philadelphia Flyers shot totals, but his system did work to achieve higher quality targets, not quantity. Over the last five games, the Flyers outshot or matched their opponent. They defeated the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins, but fell to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks, and the Winnipeg Jets.

There has to be a balance. Vigneault accentuated shot quality. Yeo stresses a shoot-first mentality. Once those two schools of thought meet in the middle, Philadelphia wins. Previous victories over the New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues, and Nashville Predators, to name a few, are proof.

“I thought last game, in Chicago, we had some better looks in terms of quality of chances and attack mindset. There was some pucks around the net; we couldn’t find a way to get that secondary opportunity. It’s good that we’re shooting the puck, and we have to continue shooting the puck, but we have to find a way to create some opportunities maybe through the bumper, through the middle of the ice, find some seams. Not that you need to force plays, but we have to be a little less predictable and find a way to attack from some other areas.”

Mike Yeo, 4/27/2022

Understanding the simplification of the offense is easy. There are a ton of prospects who are adapting to the NHL pace. Once these lines generate chemistry, Yeo can make things a little more complex. Unfortunately for Yeo, Fletcher will hopefully add top-end talent for another coach to mold.

“Tipper played one of the best games that you’re going to see a guy play without scoring a goal.”

Mike Yeo; 4/27/2022

Yeo has the utmost faith in these prospects. His decision to create “The Kids Line” will only help the Flyers move forward.

Accountability (+)

I would never want to be in the head of a goaltender. In hockey, there isn’t a position that requires more mental fortitude. Sandstrom enlightened the room when he gave an honest assessment of his performance against the Winnipeg Jets:

“It wasn’t my best game, but just trying to keep battling. It doesn’t get better if you get down on yourself, so you got to stay positive and keep going.”

Felix Sandstrom; 4/27/2022

It’s the right attitude to have and one we can all adopt for everyday life. Sandstrom wasn’t in the best situation. Ehlers and Pierre-Luc Dubois had odds in their favor on the powerplay. Sandstrom continued to battle.

Sandstrom was very transparent; it was the second time he finished a game with a sub-90%SV. His five starts this season show that most were quality, and his 0-4-1 record does not define him (3.23GAA and 91%SV.)

After Friday, Sandstrom is a pending UFA who should receive an extension because the Philadelphia Flyers must become less expensive ahead of 2022-2023.

(John Woods/The Canadian Press via AP)