Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR1) Gm 5: VGK 1, PHI 0 - Defensive Fleury
I'd was going to simply call this "Marc-Andre Fleury is a God" but felt like I was underselling him.
The Philadelphia Flyers lose, somehow, 1-0, in regulation, to the Viva Las Vegas Golden Knights. No loss for them this game.
Unfortunately, the build up to this game felt a lot like that of the Flyers home opener against the Sharks. San Jose came into the game with high expectations with the acqusition of Erik Karlsson but on just a 1-2-0 start, coming off a 4-0 shutout loss to the Islanders the night before. Coming off an incredible season last year, the Golden Knights have struggled out of the gate, winning just 1 of their first 5 games, scoring just 10 goals in the process. Even though they didn't break out offensively in this game, there's just too much talent for that to last much longer.
To be clear, though, the Flyers should have won this game. You can take that as a good thing or a bad thing. They outshot the Golden Knights 23-17 in this one, and controlled play through the first 40 minutes. The Flyers special teams looked good, with the penalty kill going a perfect 3/3, including killing off a late penalty in the final 5 minutes while the game was still tied.
But in the end, it wasn't enough, for one sole reason - Marc-Andre Fleury. Once rattled by Maxim Talbot dribblers and Danny Briere wristers (especially during the playoffs), Fleury dominated the afternoon once again. It didn't matter that he faced breakaways from Claude Giroux and Scott Laughton (who nearly got hurt in the process) and a myraid of other high danger chances, notably a spinning no-look save on Jordan Weal in the 1st, Fleury's athleticism and effort to never give up on a play were on display throughout the afternoon.
This is the kind of game you would've expected the Golden Knights to win at the beginning of last year. Getting outplayed a little but not a ton, relying on Marc-Andre Fleury for large portions of the game, and finding a way to score late. Sean Couturier flubbed a clear in the final 90 seconds, and Ryan Carpenter connected with Cody Eakin to beat Elliott for the first (and only) goal of the game. Philly tried their best to respond, but Fleury closed the door with one more diving save on Giroux, the Golden Knights held on.
It also reminded me of the game these two teams played in Philly last year (which I was at). It was a low-scoring game 3-2, that was dominated by Fleury, who got his 400th win, and won on a late goal by a Vegas 4th liner (Ryan Carpenter). But despite the heart-breaking result, the Flyers can take a lot of positives out of this game (they remember how to play defense after all!) and move forward a better, more complete team.
The Flyers finished off their regular season series with the Golden Knights on Saturday, the first team they have finished playing this year. Last year, the Flyers finished off their first season series in 7 games, against the Nashville Predators.
The road team has won each of the first 4 games between the Flyers and the Golden Knights. However, the Flyers have won each game by 3 goals, while the Golden Knights have eeked out two 1 goal victories.
Today's win was the first regulation for Vegas since Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, a 6-4 victory over Washington. They have gone 1-8-0 since. Had they lost today, it would have marked the first 4 or more game losing streak in their "illustrious" history.
The Flyers have not won a 1-0 game since December 11th, 2016, when they beat the Detroit Red Wings in their last game in the Joe, the 9th win of their 10-game winning streak. For context, Anthony Stolarz got the win, his 2nd in as many starts and his 1st NHL shutout, with Brayden Schenn scoring the OT winner off a beautiful give-and-go with rookie Ivan Provorov.
Going off the last note, the Flyers played two 1-0 games last year, losing to Nashville and Minnesota, both at home.
The Flyers wore their 3rd jerseys for the first time this year, the same sweaters they wore in the 2017 Stadium Series at Heinz Field (but not the same ones they will wear at the Linc this coming February - those have not been revealed). They are now 1-2-0 in these jerseys, having lost 4-2 in the Stadium Series before beating the Pens at home 4-0 while rocking them later that March.
As mentioned earlier, Scott Laughton went awkwardly into the boards following an unsuccessful breakaway attempt in the 2nd period. He left briefly but returned later in the game.
Oskar Lindblom was "boarded" (not called) by Brayden McNabb in the 3rd period. Lindblom looked like he wanted to stay in the game but the Flyers medical staff forced him to go back down the tunnel.
Mikhail Vorobyev also took a puck off his face in this one, and went to the bench shaken up but stayed in.
In wake of the previous three notes, it has been confirmed that every Flyers forward ever has been injured so far this year. The team has called up Tyrell Goulbourne and Colin McDonald to take their places. Nicholas Aube-Kubel and any other players considered prospects with any upside will remain with the Phantoms.
Speaking of the Phantoms and prospects with upside, Carter Hart delivered his first stinker (in just his second start), allowing 4 early goals before being pulled against the Springfield Thunderbirds.
He maybe didn't jump out as much as he has at times, but I thought Saturday was Ivan Provorov's best game of the season so far. That's not saying much - I haven't been impressed with Provorov's game so far, but other than one 1st period turnover, he looked as slick with the puck as ever and confident in both zones.
If only the Flyers penalty kill could take the tenacity and aggressiveness they show in the neutral and even offensive zones and transfer it to their own end, man they might actually be really good. It's still far better than last year though.
I was hoping the Flyers wouldn't fall below hockey .500 once this year. They've done it twice so far, but I have confidence it won't happen again. Just to make sure, I'll be there on Tuesday to secure a win (I'm a lifetime 7-5-2, at least that I can remember). Don't let me down boys!
1st - C. Eakin (VGK) - 1 G
2nd - M. Fleury (VGK) - 1.000 SV% (23 Saves/23 Shots)
3rd - B. Elliott (PHI) - .952 SV% (16 Saves/17 Shots)
VGK - 10/16 vs. BUF (2-2-0)
PHI - 10/16 vs. FLA (0-1-1)