After stringing together a four-game winning streak, did the Philadelphia Flyers find the confidence to compete against better teams, or were they beating the clubs they should’ve?
A formidable opponent arrived at the Wells Fargo Center, closing the season series. In the form of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Flyers were ready to test their mettle.
In the four-game winning streak, Philadelphia defeated the Los Angeles Kings. Not every opponent was scraping the bottom of the standings. In a similar playoff position, the Maple Leafs were the favorite but not out of reach of an upset.
Toronto started hot, peppering Carter Hart with top-notch scoring chances. Hart was in for a fight, and Tony DeAngelo had to make a save on the crease. In the same sequence where Calle Jarnkrok should’ve gone to the box for tripping Travis Konecny, he pots a one-timer dunk from Mitch Marner for the 1-0 lead. Then, as it seemed the Flyers were turning the tide, DeAngelo turned over the puck to Zach Aston-Reese, extending the deficit to 2-0. Very temporarily, it seemed Travis Konecny bailed out DeAngelo, scoring in response to the Aston-Reese goal, cutting the deficit to 2-1 at the end of the first period.
DeAngelo lasted about half a minute into the second period before John Tortorella benched him for the remainder of the game. Toronto started the scoring again, this time from Conor Timmins along the blue line, giving Marner another assist to a 3-1 lead. Philadelphia responded, but from an unlikely source as Patrick Brown recovered a puck on the forecheck and found Nicolas Deslauriers beating Matt Murray with a backhand, 3-2. Pulling away, Tim Liljegren slapped the puck home after a faceoff win in the offensive zone while shorthanded, 4-2. Not yet finished, John Tavares appeared like the boogeyman after a Morgan Frost turnover, taking a 5-2 lead into the third.
The Flyers were 0/3 on the powerplay through the first and second periods. The Maple Leafs finished their first powerplay chance at the top of the third period while Wade Allison was in the box. A trend continued where Philadelphia couldn’t convert with a man advantage, but the usual suspects did in favor of Toronto. Marner dished to Tavares, who teed a puck for Auston Matthews to add the exclamation point. This 6-2 spanking was a firm reminder of how far away this team is from competing against quality opponents.
Self Destruction (-)
“We self-destruct the shit out of ourselves. We just can’t overcome some of the things we give them for free.”John Tortorella; 1/8/2023
Defensively, the Flyers played with a loose structure, and the turnovers caught up to them quickly. The Maple Leafs possess an elite offense and eighth-best powerplay, requiring discipline in each aspect of hockey.
Toronto torched Philadelphia shorthanded and on the powerplay, not to mention the four other even-strength goals.
“We weren’t sharp. We haven’t got spanked like that in a while, and we deserved it. Not only through self-destruction; everything about our game defensively, we just weren’t on it. Offensively, I thought we did some good things.”John Tortorella; 1/8/2023
Even if Murray didn’t make key saves, and he wasn’t airtight, the Flyers can’t win defending the way they did. Couple the lack of defense with the inability to score on four powerplay chances, and you have self-destruction. The man advantage can aid a porous defense, but that doesn’t mean it is a sustainable approach to success.
Another Benching (-)
Ahead of this loss, I highlighted DeAngelo as a crucial player Philadelphia needs on the powerplay if they’re going toe-to-toe with Toronto.
In just about seven minutes of ice time, he amassed four turnovers. Pulled after half a minute of ice time in the second period, Tortorella saw enough. What is important here is that Tortorella doesn’t pull players with a grudge. He sent a message to DeAngelo, and he handled it about as well as you would hope a professional would when asked:
“No player agrees with getting sat, but we also aren’t here to question the coach. You guys can ask him those questions, and he can answer you. I’m sure he answers the same way I do. You’re never going to get what you want.”Tony DeAngelo; 1/8/2023
Following that, he admitted he felt he did nothing right. Tomorrow, he can rewrite this ‘unacceptable’ outing in Buffalo.
Next, the Philadelphia Flyers travel to the Buffalo Sabres tomorrow. The puck drops in the KeyBank Center at 7pm.
(AP Photo/Derik Hamilton)