In a commendable effort, the Philadelphia Flyers fell to the Carolina Hurricanes, 1-0.
Tyson Foerster and Elliot Desnoyers stepped from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to the Flyers lineup. They were emergency recalls with Wade Allison and Brenden Lemieux out of the lineup. Additionally, Justin Braun slotted on the third pair for the suspended Tony DeAngelo. That meant Kieffer Bellows found a place on the fourth line instead of John Tortorella deploying an eleven-forward, seven-defenseman format.
The Hurricanes lead the NHL Metropolitan Division and rank second in the league standings. Philadelphia nestles seventh in the Metropolitan Division. However, these two teams play closer than the league standings suggest.
The Flyers lost twice to Carolina, possessing a 0-1-1 record against the top dogs in the Metropolitan Division, losing by one goal each time. Was the third time the charm?
Philadelphia Flyers at Carolina Hurricanes
Penalty trouble caught up with the Philadelphia Flyers quickly. Kevin Hayes served a minor penalty for holding, which wasn’t a good call. No matter the opinion, Andrei Svechnikov scored a powerplay goal that stood as the game-winner with 17:51 remaining in the first period. The Flyers committed three penalties in the opening frame as they did against the Tampa Bay Lightning. This time, the penalty kill unit recovered behind efforts from Felix Sandstrom, Nicolas Deslauriers, and Noah Cates.
Sandstrom made incredible saves between the pipes, but the defense bailed him out by blocking shots, too. At the opposite end, Pyotr Kochetkov denied Hayes, Desnoyers, and Joel Farabee. Away from the puck, Foerster and Owen Tippett made incredible defensive plays. Foerster blocked a shot while the net was wide open to keep the deficit at 1-0. Tippett made a diving play in the defensive zone, breaking up an offensive entry.
Despite the result, this was the best performance of the season by Sandstrom. He performed similarly versus the St. Louis Blues in his only NHL victory. The Carolina Hurricanes provide much more competition than the Blues. He and Foerster were talking points for Philadelphia in a shutout loss; 1-0. Unfortunately for the Flyers, the trend of losing by a goal to the Hurricanes in 2022-2023 continues.
Felix Sandstrom (+)
Usually, after a Sandstrom start, you hear Tortorella stress that he has to make one more save. Tonight, Tortorella got every save from Sandstrom:
“The difference in this game from all his others, as far as I’m concerned, [is] he made every save. [He] gave us a chance. He was outstanding.”John Tortorella; 3/9/2023
Sandstrom saved 28/29 shots on goal. It’s the best performance of his NHL career despite the losing result. He didn’t surrender an even-strength goal, going down to the fourteenth-ranked powerplay with Svechnikov.
Unfortunately, his effort didn’t will a goal from his teammates, which might’ve put him in a position for his second career NHL win.
Making Plays (-)
Games like these prove that the Philadelphia Flyers have forwards who can hang in the defensive elements of the games or even pace the physicality among the bottom six but stress the lack of scorers. Losing Travis Konecny dealt a big blow to the offense.
“We don’t make enough plays. We haven’t made enough plays and we probably won’t the rest of the year. We have to play above it, wait for our opportunities, get some good forechecking, and bang some in.”John Tortorella; 3/9/2023
Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson are two veteran forwards that’ll help with scoring once they’re healthy to return, but until then, Tortorella is right with his frustrations. The skill level in the lineup isn’t going to change between now and the end of the season. Foerster and Desnoyers, who had quality chances, are short-term recalls expected to return to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms for the AHL postseason.
At the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, the Flyers could snag a high-end talent from the draft class, but there are other variables off the ice (and in the luxury suite) that affect the rebuild of the future forward nucleus.
Tyson Foerster (+)
Getting his first taste of the NHL against the Carolina Hurricanes presented a tall task. He stood out with and without the puck in critical situations. That’ll pique the interest of a hard head coach.
“He was one of the better players with the puck; poise with the puck. His first game against a top team like this is encouraging. He was one of our better players offensively.”John Tortorella; 3/9/2023
Foerster exclusively put quality shots on goal against Kochetkov, who secured his fourth shutout. His best chance was a snapshot in the first period, ten minutes after Svechnikov scored the eventual game-winner.
Before the game, Tortorella mentioned how he didn’t remember Foerster from training camp, but the young prospect made an impression in his NHL debut.
Next, the Philadelphia Flyers visit the Pittsburgh Penguins for a 3:30p faceoff on Saturday, March 11th, 2023.
(Photo by Joshua Sarner/Icon Sportswire)