Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR1) Gm 4: PHI 7, OTT 4 - Too Weisey
James van Reimsdyk? No.
Nolan Patrick? Not after the 1st period.
Dale Weise? All night long.
Two points? No problem.
The Philadelphia Flyers WIN (cheers), 7-4 over the Ottawa Senators. The offense struggled a bit in this one for the Birds, putting up just one touchdown and taking 2 safeties in this one. I also don't know why they kept punting on 3rd down.
But man does that Carson Wentz know how to quarterback a powerplay.
Football jokes aside, this was a huge game for the Flyers. The second half of a back-to-back is never an easy game, but coming off an embarassing loss in the home opener to the Sharks and facing one of the NHL's worst teams in the Senators, the Flyers desperately needed a win on Wednesday night and they got.
On our second episode of Dave Hakstol: What Are You Doing? on this young season, our fearless wakeboarding leader saw a lack of grit and veteran presence in Tuesday's beatdown. Exile Jordan Weal to the press box after just one game for the zero-dimensional Dale Weise!
Can't be yelled at by the coach for doing once thing bad if everything you do is equally awful.
For the record this is a direct @ to Dave Hakstol but in fairness to him it applies to like 90% of the NHL's coaches.
And early on it looked like this decision was going to age as well as we predicted it to.
Calvin Pickard got the start in this one and looked strong early. His 1st save was probably his most difficult one, a sliding left pad save on a wide open Ryan Dzingel. Unfortuantely, with the Sens on a 1st period power play, Chris Tierney directed the puck with his skate to Brady Tkachuk who "directed" the puck into the back of the net past Pickard, giving the Sens an early 1-0 lead. And yes, that is Tkach
If the Senators were a better team, they would've been able to capitalize on the Flyers slow start and the 3 power plays they were given in the first half. But they're the Senators, so they gave the Flyers 3 power plays of their own. On the third one, the Flyers took advantage, with Jake Voracek deflecting in a Shayne Gostisbehere point shot to tie the game 1-1. A few good Pickard saves later and we headed to 1st intermission tied.
It didn't take long for that to be broken. Brady Tkachuk just kinda shot the puck and Calvin Pickard kinda didn't stop it. Travis Sanheim could've been a little more aggressive in defending Tkachuk, but that was the low point of Pickard's night. Credit to Tkachuk for a great shot - I was surprised that he made the Senators out of camp, but he looked more than ready for the NHL Wednesday night.
However, the Flyers didn't let Tkachuk get in their way. A great breakout pass from Voracek activated Radko Gudas (surprising, I know). Radko Gudas loves to shoot the puck whenever he gets it, and while he usually doesn't score, he creates a lot of rebounds. Anderson was a bit sloppy, and that allowed ELITE 1st line center Sean Couturier to backhand the rebound in, tying the game up. Not too long after that, Travis Sanheim made a similar play, and Jake Voracek wisely shot the puck instead of forcing the cross-crease pass to Giroux, beating Anderson 5-hole and giving the Flyers their first lead since opening night.
But this was not a game where the Senators were going to beat the Flyers. The only way the Flyers were going to lose this game was if they beat themselves.
Or the refs could do it.
There were 2 scrums that transpired in the 2nd, the types of plays that almost always result in both teams coming out with even, with one, maybe two guys in the box. Instead, on both scrums, the Flyers were subject to bulls-controversial calls, being short-handed after both scrums. This cost them after the first one - a bouncing puck in front found Maxime Lajoie's stick, who beat Pickard short-side to tie the game 3-3.
The 2nd time ended up much better. After Pickard made a save well out of the crease, his mask was knocked off mostly by Robert Hagg, but the referee called goalie interference on Ryan Dzingel mitigated the Sens powerplay. This created 4-on-4, the ideal situation for Dale Weise to thrive.
Weise wrapped the puck off of Craig Anderson, who made the save but once again struggled with his rebound control, giving a juicy goal to Scott Laughton to put the Flyers back on top. The 3rd period was clearly the most critical though - with a one goal lead and shotty defense to start the year, the Flyers could simply not afford to "turtle" on leads like they have in the past under Hakstol.
And to be credit, the Flyers did not back down. After a solid start to the 3rd, the Flyers got their coveted insurance goal less than 5 minutes. Michael Raffl outwaited Craig Anderson, taking the Sens goalie out of the play, then threw the puck out in front where it was banged in by Robert Hagg. Yes, that Robert Hagg. The same Robert Hagg who scored 3 goals in 70 games last year now has 2 in 4 to start the new season. Hagg was very timid in his play style most of last year, and while his 25% shooting probably won't hold up the rest of the season, he's definitely been more willing to jump into plays to create more offensive, a necessity to be an impact defenseman in today's NHL.
The Flyers added to their lead with another power-play goal, and another rebound goal at that, this one from Claude Giroux. Dale Weise got a late penalty in the offensive zone to screw Pickard over a little bit, as Lajoie deposited his 2nd PP goal of the night, the 3rd for the Senators in 7 power plays tonight (penalty kill looking better so far this year, right?). Shortly after that the Sens pulled Anderson, and Scott Laughton buried his 2nd goal of the night as Jake Voracek stubbornly refused to accept the hat-trick.
As mentioned earlier, this was a big game for the Flyers to prove themselves that the debacle on Tuesday night was nothing more than just a fluke. Everything is certaintly not fixed yet, but the win allows the Flyers to cool down and relax for a little bit before they return to action Saturday.
The Flyers went just 1-1-1 against Ottawa last year, picking up just 3 out of a possible 6 points and reinstilling the mantra the Flyers always play down to their level of competition. This was the first legitimately bad team the Flyers have faced all year (although Vegas is trending that way fast), so it was good to see them get the 2 points.
The Flyers have now given up the first goal in each of their first 4 games this year. They haven't had such a stretch to begin the year since the 2008-09 season (also 4 straight).
Nolan Patrick is out 7-10 days with an upper-body injury as of Thursday afternoon. Not ideal, but it could've been worse.
The Flyers have a new piece of victory wardrobe. The Ric Flair robe from last year has been replaced by a helmet from some movie that I don't know. Jakub Voracek was the first Flyer to get the honor of wearing it (RIP the "Woo" - 11/27/16 - 4/20/18).
Speaking of Voracek, it was a bit odd to see him close enough to the net to be able to deflect in Ghost's shot to tie the game 1-1. The Flyers power play has become a lot less stationary since Kris Knoblauch took over last year, and while it didn't pay off percentage wise last year, it's looked good at times.
To go off that last point, Giroux probably wouldn't have been as far down-low in previous years to get the rebound he deposited on the 6-3 goal.
Entering play last night, Giroux had only scored 22 career points against the Senators and had his 3rd lowest PPG (points per game) against the Senators compared to the rest of the NHL. Good to see him get 3 points, as well as his 1st goal of the year.
Robert Hagg has scored just 5 goals in his young NHL career thus far. 2 of them have come against the Sens and Craig Anderson.
Speaking of unsuspecting offense from defenseman, Radko Gudas, Hagg's partner, had 3 assists as well, just the 3rd time he's recorded 3 or more points in one game in his NHL career. He's got 4 points in 4 games (all assists), while Hagg has 3 in the same amount.
Games played makes this stat a bit hectic and maybe unfair, but through their 4 games no team has given up more power play goals than the Flyers (6). The Flyers also rank 3rd most in PIM per game, averging 13:30, after being one of the most disciplined teams in the NHL last year. In fairness not all of the minutes are spent short-handed, but it's still not a good stat to be at the top of.
Overall, a solid debut for Calvin Pickard in goal. He'd probably like Tkachuk's 2nd goal back, but overall, not bad. The .886 save% looks bad, but take away the 6-4 goal that came on an unnecessary Dale Weise penalty for, I don't know, tackling, then it gets boosted up to a much more respectable .912, far more indicative of his actual performance.
1st - J. Voracek (PHI) - 2 G, 3 A
2nd - B. Tkachuk (OTT) - 2 G, 1 A
3rd - C. Giroux (PHI) - 1 G, 1 A
PHI - 10/13 vs. VGK (1-3-0)
OTT - 10/13 vs. LA (1-1-1)