Last night, the Philadelphia Flyers fought back, down two goals on the road against the Tampa Bay Lightning, to remain undefeated. For the first time in eleven seasons (since 2011-2012,) the Flyers are 3-0-0.
“At key times, late in the game, making big plays. They’re showing me they’re ugly, it doesn’t matter, they still have a little bit in the tank to get things done.”John Tortorella; 10/18/2022
They’re opportunistic, and they’re not afraid to be ugly. Steve Stamkos potted two powerplay goals, putting Philadelphia in a hole. Scott Laughton netted a rebound chance, James van Riemsdyk deflected a powerplay goal, and Noah Cates parted Andrei Vasilevskiy on a quick turn-and-shoot following a turnover in the offensive zone.
“We had a good shift before that, so I knew their defense were a little bit tired. They were just kind of flat-footed in front of their net, and I was coming in pretty hard, got a stick on it, found it, spun around and shot.”Noah Cates; 10/18/2022
The Flyers are wearing down their opponents. They’re combating teams who possess the puck more often with a physical brand of hockey, including structural support, in front of Carter Hart. Team resiliency is a trait becoming commonplace. The first three games of 2022-2023 were come-from-behind victories. Last season, it happened once with Mike Yeo.
John Tortorella wanted his team to be hard to play against, and that’s Philadelphia.
Shifts in momentum in key moments are critical to the early trajectory of the Flyers. In the third period, Hart pointed out the penalty kill as a crucial turning point. Stopping Stamkos on the powerplay once showed there was something in reserve to get the job done. They struck Tampa Bay down in their home opener.
Overall, it was their worst result yet. Luck wasn’t yet breaking their way on special teams. The Lightning is one of the most lethal powerplay teams, and Stamkos gave Philadelphia two examples.
Going 1/3 on the penalty kill usually serves as the reason why a team loses to Tampa Bay. It’s why the final kill was so vital to the outcome of the game. Brad Shaw made adjustments and the Flyers rallied behind Noah in the third period to leave the Amalie Arena with a win. More shooting lanes were disrupted, and Joel Farabee continues to improve as a two-way forward.
“They had a powerplay in the third period and I thought we adjusted our PK; a huge kill there and some huge blocks [with] some sticks in lanes. That was a crucial point in the game for us as a team.”Carter Hart; 10/18/2022
Zack MacEwen served as a catalyst to two Lightning powerplay opportunities. Stamkos notched one at his expense; the other due to a high-sticking call on Travis Konecny.
Comeback Kids (+)
No team wants to have to play catch up, but Philadelphia is doing the role justice.
For the third time in as many games, the Flyers proved victorious after overcoming a deficit. First, the New Jersey Devils after Alexander Holtz scored a powerplay goal in the first period; 1-0. Then, the Vancouver Canucks after Conor Garland scored in the first period; 2-0. Last night, Tampa Bay after Stamkos scored his second powerplay goal in the second period; 2-0. It’s quite remarkable.
“I think that’s something we’re trying to develop, the resiliency; playing the same way no matter what the situation is, just focusing on the next shift.”James van Riemsdyk; 10/18/2022
Credit Darryl Williams and his powerplay scheme. Another difference between this Philadelphia roster compared to last season is that they’ve scored a powerplay goal in three consecutive games. That hadn’t happened last season for Yeo or Alain Vigneault.
Noah Cates (+)
He was the best penalty killer for the Flyers who didn’t have Hart as a last name.
Noah came into training camp prepared to attack this season. Thus far, he is doing that.
In the big picture, Noah is a critical piece. The youth in Philadelphia feed off of one another, and central to that is Noah. Whether he’s making plays alone, with veterans, or with his brother, Noah just keeps competing. He knows how to generate a buzz through his effort.
“He’s just a hockey player; he just knows how to play. It doesn’t really matter, the situation or where he’s playing, he just knows how to be effective.”James van Riemsdyk; 10/18/2022
Scoring the game-winner on Vasilevskiy is a big confidence boost. His big third period pushed the Flyers over a usually overpowering opponent. Heading into 2022-2023, the prospects were the most intriguing component of the lineup. Noah is proof of that.
“It’s not only good short term here; for the big picture, and I still keep an eye on the big picture with this team, it’s a huge piece. [He] scores a goal; a big goal. We want him to score also, not just rely on his defensive part of the game. It’s really exciting now, but I’m also looking into the future; what he becomes as we get going as a team.”John Tortorella; 10/18/2022
(AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)