Put The Brooms Away: Flyers Can’t Sweep Sens, Lose 5-4 in Shootout

Tonight’s game was kind of like every high school relationship you’ve ever been in: Things start off really well. Then you go through a rough patch, but everything turns for the better again. Of course only until another rough patch. You keep fighting though and try to make things work.

But in the end you still lose.

The Flyers managed to have two leads, come from behind twice, and somehow end it all by losing in a shootout in Ottawa, 5-4. This game was played as evenly as it gets, as both teams showed flashes of brilliance followed by moments of “The hell did he just do?”.

Michael Raffl opened the scoring with his first NHL goal in the first period. It was a warm and fuzzy moment for all involved until a few minutes later when Chris Neil bulldozed him. The Sens responded later in the period on a neutral zone collapse by the Flyers leading to a breakaway goal by Clarke MacArthur.

Ottawa took their first lead in the second off a powerplay goal by Patrick Wiercioch (assisted by Bobby Ryan, who I counted 3 times during the game was referred to by his hometown of Cherry Hill. Amazed it was that low). The Flyers responded on a power play of their own with Jakub Voracek picking up his first goal in 12 games. Philly then took the lead on a rare howitzer by Luke Schenn.

Oddly enough, the third period was eerily similar to the second, only reversed. Ottawa first potted two goals to go up 4-3, then Kimmo Timonen lobbed a muffin past a screened Craig Anderson (Thanks Jason Spezza!) to tie the game up at 4. It stayed that way in to overtime and on to the shootout, where a lone goal by Jason Spezza (Screw you Jason Spezza!) sealed the Sens overtime victory over the Flyers.

Overall, it’s not so much the Flyers played bad, but they weren’t all that great either. Despite establishing solid forechecks, they never really controlled the neutral zone and were constantly giving up odd man rushes to a speedy Ottawa team. When you can’t control the neutral zone and give up odd man rushes, all the forechecking in the world won’t win you a game. The Flyers almost pulled it off, but in the end fell just short.

Neither Steve Mason or Craig Anderson looked especially solid in net tonight. Mason’s rebound control was suspect at best and he seemed to really be fighting off shots rather than playing a more composed game. After allowing 8 goals in his last two games, I imagine his detractors will come out from hiding and begin proclaiming the “Mason-Apocalypse.” But these things happen to every goalie. Mason has said before he’s been better about not letting this stuff get him down mentally, so let’s wait and see how he responds in his next start.

Quick Thoughts

  • Maybe it’s just me, but I swear the only time I notice Mark Streit is when he’s screwing something up. He was responsible for pinching too far and allowing a late Sens goal.
  • Speaking of defensemen, Timmonen, Schenn, and Grossman all looked pretty good. The two former actually scored, and Grossman was very involved in the offensive zone–while still being defensively responsible (take notes, Streit)
  • Did anyone see that Couturier vs. Kyle Turris fight? That was just silly.

The Flyers travel to Chicago next. Yikes. Let’s hope for a slightly better level of play. Because what they did tonight certainly won’t get it done.

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Flyers, Stars Preview: Would a winning record be asking too much?

This isn’t exactly unknown territory.

From moments during the forgetful 2012-2013 campaign, to flashes this season: the Flyers are at the doorstep of a winning record. It almost seems routine now: we see the Flyers lose a bunch of games and make us all ask who should be fired, traded, burned at the stake–then follow it up with winning a bunch of games and make us all ask why we ever doubted them in the first place. The problem is they always get to about .500 before the cycle repeats itself and leaves us loathing again.

The Flyers enter this afternoon’s game in Dallas with a 13-13-2 record. They just came off a pretty solid comeback win in Detroit on Wednesday and once again have an opportunity to be just a bit better than average in the standings. Man, that would really be cool.

Philly comes in to this game riding the hot hand of their 3rd line, or really just Line 1c at this point. Sean Couturier, Steve Downie, and Matt Read have combined for 25 points in their last 10 games, including a 9 point outburst during the Detroit game.

They’ve been the talk of the town lately (with good reason) but for me, aren’t the key to the Flyers finally toppling the .500 hurdle. What’s going to win the game for Philly today and moving forward is the re-ignition of the second line. Vinny Lecavalier is still out with back spasms, so it will be up to Brayden Schenn at center to get Michael Raffl and Wayne Simmonds going.

Speaking of Flyers forwards in need of a scoring touch: Jakub Voracek.

When you play on a line with Claude Giroux, scoring should not be an issue. Yet somehow, it is. Despite strong presence in the offensive zone and a fair share of chances, Voracek is pointless in his last 6 games and scoreless in his last 11. But as we’ve seen in the past, sometimes all it takes is one goal to get a guy going. He’s a power winger. They like scoring goals. I have a funny feeling if he finds the net tonight, it’s going to pay dividends big time down the road. Or he won’t score again and this will continue for another 11 games. Let’s think glass half full here people.

Dallas comes in to this game with a 5-2-3 record in their last 10; but have more recently dropped 2 of 3. Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are kind of really good at this whole hockey thing, and containing them will be the Philly defense’s biggest challenge. But hey! on the plus side they’re both scoreless in their last 8 games, so that’s awesome news.

Kari Lehtonen should be starting for Dallas in net because I don’t think they want to rely on this guy for a win. Not sure about who’s starting for the Flyers, but if I’m a betting man, I think it will either be Steve Mason or Ray Emery.

No but seriously it will probably be Mason.

Questions to Answer:

  • Couturier had 4 points against Detroit. How does he and the rest of Line 1c look tonight?
  • The Stars haven’t allowed more than 3 goals in their past five. Can the Flyers, light them up? (oh thank god we won’t have to listen to Fall Out Boy if they do)
  • 14-13-2?!?!?!?!?

Puck drops at 2pm. GO FLYERS!

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Flyers Have Blazing Third, Burn Red Wings 6-3

Things looked bleak at 3-1.

Penalty after penalty, the Flyers began to unravel in the second period. Down two, I was beginning to wonder how to explain Philly’s inability to play with the stronger teams in the league, and that their big winning streak was really just a result of weak competition.

Phew, thank god I don’t have to talk about that.

Led by the third line of Sean Couturier, Matt Read, and Steve Downie, the Flyers stormed through the third period–scoring 4 unanswered goals to take down the Wings in Detroit, 6-3. The trio combined for 9 points, while Claude Giroux added a goal and assist of his own. Steve Mason made 32 Saves.

The wins these days live and die purely on the success of the third line at this point. Not to mention the continued stellar play from Mason. If the Flyers can pull that 2nd line out of the gutter, and Voracek could get going on the first, that Philly offensive depth could get very scary.

Quick Thoughts

  • Brayden Schenn was kinda brutal tonight and has been on a bit of a slump. With Vinny Lecavalier out, Schenn needs to be the catalyst for that second line–and so far it’s not happening.
  • Seriously, Sean Couturier is awesome. Don’t even try to tell me otherwise.
  • Mason shut the door in the 3rd period and still hasn’t allowed more than 3 goals in a game. Remember when we traded Mike Leighton for him?
  • Was that really only the second time the Flyers have won in Detroit since 1988? That means this is the first time they’ve won in Detroit since I’ve been alive. I JUST WATCHED HISTORY.

Next game is Saturday against the Dallas Stars. GO FLYERS!

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Never Too Early for a Win: Flyers Beat Jets 2-1

Sean Couturier scored shorthanded and Steve Mason stopped 25 as the Flyers beat the Winnipeg Jets 2-1. After a two game road trip in Florida where they lost both, the Flyers returned to Wells Fargo and crept to a game under .500.

The Flyers game out firing early. Sustained pressure by Matt Read, Steve Downie, and Sean Couturier lead to a Scott Hartnell goal 48 seconds in to the first. Sean Couturier added a shorthanded goal in the second to go up 2-0.

Winnipeg solved Steve Mason on a broken play in the third to cut the lead in half, but the Flyers shut them down after that–forcing Winnipeg to play deep in their own zone for much of the second half of the third.

The Flyers dominated most of the game. Aside from stretches in the second and third, Winnipeg didn’t have many opportunities to get to Mason. The Jets were held to only 2 shots in the first period. Things did start to look concerning when the lead was cut in half, but the Flyers responded with enough sustained pressure to hold on to the win.

Quick Thoughts:

  • Sean Couturier looked flat out dominant this morning/afternoon. A beautiful shorthanded goal was icing on the cake to how he physically dominated the Jets. Winning almost every puck battle and absolutely having his way in the offesnsive zone. Is this a breakout day for Coots?
  • Speaking of Couturier, his linemate, Steve Downie has also looked great and is making the Flyer’s brass look like geniuses for trading for him.
  • Steve Mason didn’t face a ton of shots, but came up huge when he was needed. Still has never allowed more than 3 goals in a game as a Flyer. That’s insane.

The Flyers travel to Nashville to play the Preds tomorrow. Getting a win and back to .500 would be nice. make it happen, Flyers.

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IT’S THANKSGIVING! What Should the Flyers Be Thankful For?

The Flyers don’t play today on Thanksgiving. And instead of reflecting on their current 2 game losing streak, let’s look towards the things that have gone right.

We all have things we’re thankful for today. Personally, I’m thankful for pizza, family, and my sensational smile (in that order). But what should the Flyers be thankful for?

Goaltending

Even as the Flyers sit a couple games below .500; it could be substantially worse if it wasn’t for Ray Emery and Steve Mason playing out of their minds. They rank 12th in the league in team goals against average. Not bad for a goalie tandem only costing $3.15 million this year, or $1.85 million less than Ilya Bryzgalov’s original average cap hit.

The Awful Awful Awful Metropolitan Division

Thanks to everyone in this division sucking, the Flyers are only 4 points out of a playoff spot. But put them in the Western Conference, and only the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers have worse records. Even in the Atlantic Division they would still be 7 points out. Seriously, if there is anything the Flyers need to be thankful for, it’s this.

Ed Snider

Look. Ed Snider gets a hard time for being heavily involved in the decision-making, and sometimes it’s warranted. He wants to win now and sometimes believes trades and money can get it done. It’s a deadly combination that has hamstringed the Flyers from time to time. But honestly, how can you not admire Ed Snider for his dedication to his Flyers? If you’re a fan of this team, you should be very very thankful this is the owner. He’s a guy who would cut his arm off if someone said it would guarantee getting this city another Stanley Cup. Ed Snider lives and breathes this team. Does he sometimes push hasty decisions? Yes. But I’d rather an owner who tries to do too much than one who doesn’t do enough. Ed Snider rules.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving everyone. Go Flyers and stuff.

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Steve Mason Has Been Great, but Don’t Expect A Huge Contract Extension

Somehow, we live in a world so topsy-turvy that a once lost goaltender comes to Philadelphia and becomes their best player.

This is the reality of the 2013-2014 Flyers.

Steve Mason has been nothing short of brilliant. 2.17 GAA, .931 SV% (.938 at even strength), and has yet to allow more than 3 goals in a single game. That he’s only 7-8-2 on the season is a testament to just how incredibly bad the team was playing in front of him to start the year…CONTINUE READING…

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/steve-mason-great-don-t-expect-huge-contract-222300114–nhl.html

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Flyers Winning with Depth

In case you haven’t noticed: hockey is a team sport.

It’s not the best player who wins the Stanley Cup, it’s the best team. That’s why in today’s NHL, it’s more important than ever to feature a deep core of reliable players, rather than a top-heavy team with nothing usable after your top two lines.

Before the season began, the Flyers were considered to have a deep group of forwards. It was literally the only reason anyone picked them to make the playoffs. Then when the season began it brought the “Great Flyers Goal Drought of 2013″ and all that offensive power was forgotten about.

Until now.

The Flyers are 5-0-1 in their last six games. Finally playing north-south hockey and responsible team defense. But above that: they’re SCORING GOALS. They’re outscored opponents 22-8 in the same span. So who’s responsible for the offensive uptick?

Everyone.

As predicted before the season began, the Flyers sport an incredibly deep forward group. Here is the breakdown of how the Flyer’s lines have contributed goals at even strength over the past 6 games:

  • Line 1 (Voracek, Giroux, Hartnell): 4 goals
  • Line 2 (Schenn, Lecavalier, Simmonds): 4 goals
  • Line 3 (Downie, Couturier, Read): 5 goals
  • Line 4 (Rosehill, Hall, Rinaldo): 1 goal (LOL Rosehill)

 

What this tells us is the Flyers have 3 lines the opposing team has to worry about. And at least for the last few games, the Flyer’s depth is outplaying the opponent’s depth. When everyone is scoring at the rate your first line is scoring, it forces teams to place more responsibility on their top defensive pairings and top forwards to shut them down. In essence: it means the Flyers will wear teams out by constantly providing offensive pressure no matter who is out there.

Even that fourth line has been effective. Sure, they haven’t scored as much, but they win faceoffs (Adam Hall has been winning over 80% of his draws) and play aggressive, but intelligent hockey.

So yes, guys like Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, and Brayden Schenn are starting to find life in this season. But so is everyone else, and it’s probably driving opposing teams crazy.

HOORAY FOR THE POWER OF TEAMWORK!

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