Stuck in a 1-2-2 limbo, the Philadelphia Flyers (19-13-6) face a gut check. Last night, they returned to the Wells Fargo Center, where John Tortorella received his flowers from Philadelphia for 1,500 games as an NHL head coach, and Travis Konecny received his recognition as an NHL all-star.
“I’m really excited. It’s an honor. I couldn’t do it without my teammates.”Travis Konecny; 1/4/2024
Unfortunately for the Flyers, the Columbus Blue Jackets (13-9-8) cashed in on their intentions of spoiling the occasion. A shootout win, courtesy of Johnny Gaudreau, prevented Philadelphia from capturing the season series versus Columbus. Before the game, Sean Couturier gave his thoughts on what must happen to regain their early success:
“I think just playing fast again; finding our confidence, our swagger, again. Doing the right little things consistently throughout sixty minutes. I don’t think we’re playing bad. It’s just not good enough at this time of the year, and we just got to find another level to our play.”Sean Couturier; 1/4/2024
The Flyers paced the game but lost control in the third following missed opportunities and momentary lapses in the defensive zone, allowing Damon Severson and Jake Bean to force overtime before Gaudreau decided the eventual shootout, 3-2.
Playing With a Lead (-)
Konecny scored an aggressive second goal, carving past Bean and taking a late hit from Erik Gudbranson, but ultimately beating Daniil Tarasov, 2-0. That lead stood for :55 when Severson settled between Scott Laughton and Garnet Hathaway on a one-timer to kill the shutout bid for Sam Ersson, 2-1. Then, the Blue Jackets were a deflection away from tying the game, 2-2. Just like that, Bean made it happen.
“We need to play with a two-nothing lead longer, first of all. That’s where I think you can grind a team. We give up the first one too quickly. When they scored the second; prior to that, they had very few chances. They piled them up after the second goal.”John Tortorella; 1/4/2024
A handful of times this season, Philadelphia gave up a two-goal lead within five minutes of adding a cushion. Twice, it happened versus Columbus. When these two clubs first met this season, Patrik Laine scored his first of 2023-2024 less than a minute (:45) after Cam Atkinson potted an empty-net goal. Ironically, both skaters were not in last night’s lineups. Tortorella briefly cited it wasn’t a hard decision to scratch Atkinson, and in addition, he didn’t believe an 11F/7D lineup format fatigued the team.
Open looks on screened shots were available, but Philadelphia missed wide more than a handful of times. Yet, Tarasov still saw 41 shots on goal. That indicates how often the Flyers shot with possession in the first two periods. A great chance to potentially put the game on ice was during a full, two-minute five-on-three advantage with Justin Danforth and Mathieu Olivier in the penalty box.
“The five-on-three, we generated chances. [We] can’t score. Their goaltender played really well.”John Tortorella; 1/4/2024
Tarasov did a tremendous job for the Blue Jackets. This was a game where it was Philadelphia’s to lose, and instead of coming away with two points and talking about how the team found a way to win, unfortunately, the shoe was on the other foot.
Next, the Philadelphia Flyers host the Calgary Flames tomorrow at 1pm.
(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)