Including tonight, the Philadelphia Flyers turned in consecutive, solid preseason performances on the road. They’ve already improved from their first outing against the New Jersey Devils, and it’s simply due to the roster recovering from the high-volume skating that began the 2023 Flyers Training Camp.
The Boston Bruins did not deploy a soft lineup for the exhibition, and unlike the Flyers, they gave their starting goaltender all of regulation, overtime, and the shootout.
Ian Laperriere mentioned he thought the Flyers were the better team in a loss to the New York Islanders on Wednesday. Tonight, the Flyers mirrored the same tenacity versus the Bruins. It was a tightly contested battle where Linus Ullmark blinked before Cal Petersen in a shootout.
“I thought we played pretty good in our last game as well. We just weren’t able to generate any offense. Tonight was a much better game as far as an offensive perspective is concerned. Five-on-five, we were good. The penalty kill was tough; they’re a really good powerplay team. I thought our powerplay did a pretty good job, too.”Rocky Thompson; 9/29/2023
Flyers at Bruins
On the NHL Network, Tyson Foerster, Bobby Brink, Elliot Desnoyers, Yegor Zamula, Sam Ersson, and Petersen accepted the challenge against the Bruins as a massive rehearsal. John Tortorella was blunt about spots in the Flyers lineup being more open than most would expect.
Ersson started the exhibition against Ullmark. During the pregame conversation with Rocky Thompson, the goaltending situation for the game was unclear. As it turned out, Ersson took the first half, and Petersen completed the contest.
Philadelphia controlled most of the first period. Victor Mete and Zamula were active in the neutral zone, helping force the puck into the offensive zone for the forwards. On defense, Louie Belpedio continued to play physically along the boards. He won a critical board battle behind Ersson, sparking a transition to offense by the Flyers. Moments later, Joel Farabee swooped on an errant puck in the neutral zone, entered on offense, and sniped the glove on Ullmark, 1-0, with 12:29 remaining in the first period.
Nicolas Deslauriers served a minor for slashing. It allowed David Pastrnak to tie the game, 1-1, with :32 left on the penalty and 7:14 remaining in the first period. Then, Pastrnak served a minor for hooking, setting up the Flyers with their first powerplay.
Ryan Poehling impressed in the offensive zone. He plays a hardnosed style, fit for the Flyers’ bottom line with Deslauriers and Garnet Hathaway, but showed he can finish, which could help the powerplay convert. He took the position net front on Ullmark as the Flyers effectively moved the puck on the powerplay. Brink hesitated on his shot, snuck a look for a pass to Poehling, and threaded the needle for a slam dunk finish by Poehling, 2-1, with :04 left on the powerplay and 2:33 left in the first period.
Ullmark didn’t waste time coming up with another big save in the second period. Helge Grans nearly fed a perfect setup to Brink, but he was stoned at the crease. Then, after the Bruins began to pin the Flyers into the defensive zone, Belpedio and Jakub Lauko started sizing each other up. They both were ordered to the penalty box for roughing, but hold that thought…
Farabee, who helped provide a lead for the Flyers, made an error. He looked for a stop pass to Zamula, but it wasn’t on target, allowing Pastrnak to recover the loose puck for a breakaway goal, 2-2, with 12:20 left in the second period.
Back to Belpedio and Lauko. As soon as they both stepped out of the penalty box, they engaged in fisticuffs. Lauko, of the two combatants, is the only one to fight in the NHL. It was around the time of this fight when Petersen replaced Ersson during a tied game.
“The battle he [Belpedio] had out there, that was outstanding. [The] crowd got into it. He did really, really well.”Rocky Thompson; 9/29/2023
Grans and Tippett went to the penalty box for separate calls, thickening the lackadaisical effort. The Flyers killed both penalties, but once Tippett rejoined the ice, Danton Heinen put the Bruins ahead, 3-2, with 5:00 left in the second period. Unsettled from the tripping minor, the defense couldn’t offer even-strength help to Petersen, though the penalty expired. Unforced errors, such as poor turnovers or penalties, put the Flyers behind the Bruins after a hot start.
Down, but not out, the Flyers needed to answer first to breathe new life. Jacob Gaucher entered the offensive zone, jumped on the forecheck, and forced a turnover to Brink. Accepting the loose puck, Brink, like Farabee, picked the glove side of Ullmark to tie the game, 3-3, with 15:53 left in regulation. Some quality shifts followed after Brink tied the game, taking the momentum away from the Bruins while putting pressure on Ullmark.
“Bobby played really, really well. He was an offensive catalyst; that line with him, Frosty [Frost], and Tip [Tippett] had a lot of chemistry tonight. [He] got a goal and an assist, he was good on the powerplay, he played good five-on-five as well. He was stripping guys of the puck. He was backchecking like we’ve been asking him to do; that was really encouraging.”Rocky Thompson; 9/29/2023
Both goaltenders held their ground, keeping the game tied, 3-3, through regulation. Petersen made the top save to give the Flyers a chance at victory.
In overtime, Pavel Zacha and Hampus Lindholm were stopped by Petersen. The Bruins controlled the puck throughout the first half of the sudden-death overtime period. Then, Georgi Merkulov played Tippett into the post of the goal to disrupt a scoring chance, which turned into an overtime penalty shot. Ullmark made another clutch save, stopping a five-hole chance.
Not out of the woods yet, Sanheim made a beautiful breakout pass to Farabee, but Ullmark made another save. Soon after, the Bruins were on offense, and Farabee was worn out. He served a penalty in overtime for holding, but not before taking a deliberate whack across the back by Marchand with his stick. How Farabee was the only one penalized is insane, but we have to assume it is preseason for the officials, too.
Deadlocked, 3-3, the Flyers and Bruins needed a shootout to determine a winner. Matthew Poitras and Pastrnak were both denied consecutively by Petersen. Ullmark didn’t stop one shot in the shootout, scored on by Brink and Frost. The Flyers were rewarded with a hard-fought, 4-3 victory because they recovered from a lull in the middle of the game with tenacity. In the preseason, that is what management, specifically Tortorella, is looking for from his lineup.
(Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)