An ugly, disjointed second period turned a Philadelphia Flyers (18-11-3) lead into a deadlocked affair with the Nashville Predators (19-14-0). Morgan Frost and Sean Couturier provided two different one-goal leads at various points of regulation time. Unfortunately, Philip Tomasino wasn’t far behind, eventually scoring his second goal, the game-winner, with 4:01 remaining in regulation.
“Both teams had good minutes. Both teams had bad minutes. It comes down to the end as far as situational play. We’re going to have to learn, and I think this is a part of our game that we need to get better at because we have turned our team around to more of a transition-type team, we’re going to have to forecheck sometimes. There’s no reason for us to be turning the puck over with less than five minutes left. The way they were stacked in the neutral zone, they were more patient than we were, and that’s what cost us the game at the end.”John Tortorella; 12/21/2023
Swept in the season series versus the Predators, the Flyers saw their nine-game point streak snapped on home ice. They’ll need a short memory, taking the back-to-back into Detroit before Christmas break.
These are a few takeaways from the 4-2 loss to Nashville at the Wells Fargo Center:
Ahead of the game, John Tortorella blew off a question about his inclination toward Philadelphia being a playoff team. Outright, he said you don’t know what your team is until the end of January. Last night, that point came to fruition.
Teams who compete the hardest in the postseason forecheck consistently well. The Flyers are a team that can forecheck. Last night, that escaped the plans. Tortorella praised the Predators for putting his lineup through a checking clinic. They couldn’t get the puck deep on offense throughout most of the game, specifically in the third period.
“This team is going to have to forecheck. When this league gets going at the end of Christmas, after the holiday, that’s when the grind starts coming in. If we think we’re going to be this high-flying transition team; spreading, stretching, and not forecheck, we’re in for a rude awakening. We found that out tonight.”John Tortorella; 12/21/2023
Despite a poor night of forechecking, Philadelphia hung in there with Nashville, but ultimately, a lack of that aspect cost them the hockey game.
Sam Ersson (+)
Sam Ersson didn’t get revenge on the Predators but continues to be sharp in the crease. Each time he occupied the space between the pipes versus Nashville, the tilts came down to the wire. The Flyers called on him more often last night than in the previous overtime finish. Last night, Ersson saved 27/30 shots on goal, reflecting more stability than his previous 19/22 line in the first showdown.
Ersson started the last five games with a 3-1-1 record. The only blemishes are credited to the Predators. Despite this loss, what matters is that he consistently proves he is a stellar backup option to Carter Hart and that he’s undoubtedly earned the trust of Tortorella.
“I feel like I’m in good shape and I think it’s very fun to play. You get from the games and especially getting a couple [of] wins has been huge for my confidence and just energy-wise as well. I feel good.”Sam Ersson; 12/21/2023
Hart is out with an illness. Ersson is the de facto starter and doesn’t seem bothered by the heavy workload.
Frost made a couple of plays, by design or not. He began scoring early in the first period after a lucky bounce from behind Juuse Saros, which deflected behind Saros and into the net. Unfortunately, Frost did not receive credit for the Couturier powerplay goal. He was knocked off the puck, which was within reach of Couturier for the finish in close on Saros.
He had a low point, too. With the puck, Frost stood out. Away from the puck, it wasn’t all sunshine. Colton Sissons pushed the puck to Cole Smith while shorthanded on a rush. Frost didn’t attempt to make a play with his stick before Smith fired the shot away, which tied the game 1-1.
These are the things Tortorella is right about when he dissects the two-hundred-foot game. It is why Frost wasn’t consistent despite a presence on two scoring plays. Last night, he was among the best forwards on the ice for Philadelphia, yet the team approach wasn’t enough to earn a victory.
“We’re just lacking a little focus; turnovers at inopportune times, we didn’t really have any forecheck going. We just didn’t check well enough.”Morgan Frost; 12/21/2023
However, he reappeared after Yakov Trenin boarded him, resulting in a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct. Frost was briefly shaken up but didn’t miss the ensuing powerplay, which is encouraging.
Next, the Philadelphia Flyers visit the Detroit Red Wings tonight at 7pm.
(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)