Flyers crash and burn versus Blackhawks, 5-1

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Connor Bedard records assist against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Chicago Blackhawks’ Connor Bedard (98) reacts after a goal by teammate Philipp Kurashev during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Philadelphia Flyers, Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

There are no trap games for these Philadelphia Flyers (36-29-10). They’re a rebuilding team, and while some of the success from this season makes some people second guess that label, it’s important to provide perspective. They’ve played up to the level of some NHL Stanley Cup contenders, then switched back to playing down to teams already eliminated from playoff contention. Amazingly, they’ve had this much success, but once they’ve earned it, there is an appetite for more. They’ve worked too hard to exceed expectations throughout the regular season for bad teams to become the spoiler.

“I don’t think it’s through lack of preparation for them. I think they’re ready to play. I think the most important part of the game tonight was when we crawled back in at two-to-one, TK [Konecny] hit the post right after the next shift, we have a powerplay; a couple of them, which are awful, and then they score their powerplay to go up three-one. The start; I’ve had the narrative here for the past few games, and I think it’s the correct narrative: I don’t think we’ve played badly, but I don’t think we played well tonight at all. For whatever reason, I have no idea. I wish I did, but that’s a good, old-fashioned, drubbing right there. We had a chance to get back in it in that sequence. The powerplay I think deflates us, and they score.”

John Tortorella; 3/30/2024

Currently, the postseason plans are put on hold. In the race for third place in the NHL Metropolitan Division, the Washington Capitals are tied with the Flyers in points. Due to the number of games remaining and points percentage, the ranks shuffled. Following a shootout loss versus the Boston Bruins, the Capitals gained a point to bump Philadelphia into the second slot in the NHL Wildcard hunt.

Effectively, the Chicago Blackhawks (22-47-5) spoiled another valuable opportunity at two points for the Flyers. On Friday, Luke Richardson cited how he prepared his lineup to match up against an aggressive opponent. When the puck dropped, one team was ready to play, and the other, with something to play for, was chasing the pace.

In short spurts, Philadelphia found offense and generated shots on goal, and at the faceoff dot, took the majority of possessions. Overall, the Blackhawks controlled during even strength, powerplay, and penalty-killing scenarios, shutting down any Flyers advance.

Lukas Reichel broke onto the scoreboard first. He battled on his wraparound attempt, scoring on the second effort, 1-0. Sam Ersson nearly had the save, but there was just enough room underneath his skate for the puck to slide freely past the goal line.

Erik Johnson and Garnet Hathaway nearly engineered an equalizer, but the puck traveled wide. Then, Jaycob Megna served a minor penalty for hooking. Philadelphia went on their first powerplay, putting some pressure on Arvid Soderblom with Owen Tippett, Joel Farabee, and Bobby Brink, but no conversion. The Flyers finished 0/3 on the powerplay.

Travis Konecny had a high-danger opportunity, streaking in on Soderblom. He missed wide. In the defensive zone, Nick Seeler broke up a probably scoring chance. Seeler returned to the ice after recovering from a lower-body injury.

Philipp Kurashev extended the lead. He ripped a wrist shot past Ersson after taking a cross-ice feed from Connor Bedard, 2-0. Cam York and Travis Sanheim dropped into the defensive zone to take on the odd-man rush.

Scott Laughton tried to ignite a fire for Philadelphia. He and Ryan Donato squared off, but the officials did break up the fight. The Flyers trailed by two at the end of the first period.

Tyson Foerster broke the shutout bid for Soderblom. Upon his offensive zone entry, Foerster bent his wrist shot around Alex Vlasic as a screen on Soderblom, 2-1. The extracurriculars before the first intermission between Laughton and Donato gave Philadelphia life.

One has to wonder how the trajectory of this contest would’ve changed if Laughton and Konecny weren’t denied by the post. Putting shots on goal wasn’t an issue for the Flyers; they outshot Chicago. Philadelphia was a lethal dose of snakebitten and a step behind.

“I don’t think we’re pressing. I thought Tyson [Foerster], that was a huge play to start the second period to score. What happens if TK’s [Konecny] goes in instead of off the post? It’s not pressing. I just don’t think we played well.”

John Tortorella; 3/30/2024

Instead, Laughton served a minor penalty for tripping. Nick Foligno slammed a quick stick past Ersson, jumping the lead to 3-1. Foligno accepted a quick-moving cycle from a backdoor feed, and Ersson hardly had the opportunity to react. The Flyers still trailed by two after the second intermission. Philadelphia finished 2/3 on the penalty kill.

Denis Gurianov and Sean Couturier nearly combined for a scoring play, but Soderblom sealed the post. Each of these forwards needed a point badly to get going, and if Couturier lifted the puck, Gurianov would’ve had an assist. Instead, Soderblom executed the post-sealing save Ersson couldn’t in the first period.

Egor Zamula turned over the puck in the neutral zone. His pass was tipped into the defensive zone by Joey Anderson. Anderson forced the turnover, broke in on Ersson, and put a wrist shot into the net, 4-1. At this point, the lead felt insurmountable.

MacKenzie Entwistle added another. Farabee gave Entwistle too much room alone with Ersson, and the pass by Anderson went from tape to tape. All Entwistle had to do was quickly wrist shot the puck past Ersson, and he did, 5-1.

Not long after, Hathaway received a ten-minute misconduct unrelated to the scoring play and was finished for the game in the locker room.

Up Next

Next, the Philadelphia Flyers host the New York Islanders on Monday. The puck drops at 7pm.

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)