Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR1) Gm 8: NJ 2, PHI 5 - Voracek Yourself
The Devil's in the detail, boys.
The Philadelphia Flyers win it late, 5-2, over the New Jersey Devils (extreme Jersey accent). This game had a far different feeling to it than any game the Flyers have played this season, even the 1-0 game against Vegas a week ago. It was a tight-checking affair right to the end, and for once, it was the Flyers prevailing late, then adding a few empty-netters to make this game look far less close than it actually was.
The Flyers got some extra help with the return of Nolan Patrick to the lineup, as Corban Knight went to the press box after making his Flyers debut on Thursday. Dave Hakstol made a couple other changes to his lineup - Scott Laughton was moved up to the 2nd line with Jake and Nolan, bumping Michael Raffl, Jordan Weal, and Michael Raffl all down a line.
But the biggest change was the breakup of the top-pairing of Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere. It was clear that this pair just was not clicking early on - Provorov especially has looked like he's been fighting the puck early on. Provy stayed on the top pair alongside Robert Hagg, while Gostisbehere was paired with Christian Folin, as Andrew MacDonald continued to watch from the press box.
Before either team got settled, the Devils power play, operating at a 24% rate going into this one, got a chance to open the scoring and made no mistake. Marcus Johansson went across the slot to an open Damon Severson who sniped one short side on Elliott, giving the Devils the early lead. Wow, imagine having a second power play unit that can score. Would be nice to have one of those.
Ask and you shall receive.
On an early man advantage of their own, Travis "Flip the Switch" Konecny continued to utilize his new found scoring touch with a short side snipe of his own on Keith Kinkaid, his 2nd goal in as many games after not being able to buy a goal in the Flyers first 6 contests, tying the score at 1-1, where it stood for over a period.
To be honest, I'd like to be able to talk about a lot of chances between goals, but this was a very low-event game that the you would've usually seen the 1998 Devils play, not the 2018 ones. The shots on goal were 12-12 after 40 minutes of play, an outlier from the high-chance games that have been more commonplace in the NHL, especially this year, and especially for the Flyers.
But the amount of shots in goal were not even after 40. With just 1:04 left in the 2nd, Jake Voracek found everybody's favorite rosy-cheeked sniper Nolan Patrick fot a tap-in at the side of the net, his first of the year in his first game in 10 days to put the Flyers back in-front. With James van Riemsdyk still another 3-4 weeks away from returning, Patrick will be one of the players looked to carry the load offensively, so getting his first point of the year right away after coming back in his return.
Unfortunately that lead did not last one. Jordan Weal took his 3rd penalty of the game (someone misses the press box) for high-sticking early in the 3rd, giving the Devils power play another chance. Sure enough, Brian Boyle was able to walk on in and absolutely sniped on a screened Elliott, knotting the game once again.
For a moment, it looked like that screen might've been too good to be true, as Kyle Palmieri appeared to make contact with Brian Elliott, perhaps preventing the Flyers goaltender to make the save. I personally didn't think it was enough to warrant a call, but still thought it was smart for Dave Hakstol to take a spin of the NHL's "Goal or No Goal" wheel.
What, you thought the refs decided the result of coaches challenges? Have you not seen some of the calls that were made last year? They're not that stupid.
Anyway, the goal stood and the game was tied.
As the clocked ticked down to the final few minutes, it seemed like this game was destined for overtime. Even against a team in their division, and a pretty solid one at that, most teams are usually conserative late in games trying to just secure 1 point. That doesn't always work - the Flyers learned that the hard way last week, but it generally plays out that way with little resistance from either side.
Today the Flyers pushed back.
After failing to convert on an odd-man rush a few minutes earlier, Ivan Provorov's clearing attempt (for some reason NHL.com is says it's Jori Lehtera's) turned into a two-on-one for Jake Voracek and Scott Laughton. Voracek, who has already scored by actually shooting on a 2-on-1 earlier this year, deked around Kinkaid and passed the puck...
Into a wide open net.
JAKE THE SNAKE with the SLICK hands and the smooth finish to put the Flyers ahead 3-2 with just 3:10 left in the 3rd! You could tell he was fired up too, following up his goal with an emphatic scream.
New Jersey proceeded to pull their goalie about 90 seconds later but couldn't do much. After Ivan Provorov blocked a Will Butcher shot up high, the Flyers transitioned the puck ahead, and Wayne Simmonds deposited an empty netter to basically ice the game. The Devils actually put on more pressure after the 4-2 goal, as Kyle Palmieri almost scored on a wrap-around, but Voracek cleared the puck to a wide open Scott Laughton for another empty net goal to officially put this one away.
While the Flyers offensive was stagnant in terms of creating a lot of scoring chances in this one, I feel like the team overall had a strong game. Something about Saturdays seems to make this team play better defense (or maybe it's the black jerseys), but to see the Flyers play a better all-around was better. They probably shouldn't try to get into tight-checking, relatively low scoring (minus the two ENGs) games like this - it's just not the strength of their roster - but it's good to know how to win multiple ways.
Apologies for not calling last game "Help, I've Folin and I Can't Get Up." I felt like it was a little long, but man it would've been funny.
Speaking of, what is with the Flyers right-handed defensemen falling down? Radko Gudas had a similar blunder in the offensive zone just before the Patrick goal, but the Flyers were able to recover thanks to a strong backcheck from Claude Giroux and excellent coverage on Taylor Hall by Travis Sanheim.
Dave Hakstol said the other day that he's liked how the 3rd pairing of Sanheim-Gudas has played, but still seems hesitant to give them more responsibility. With Provorov and Gostisbehere split up it makes a little more sense, but why wouldn't you want your most effecitve pairing on the ice as much as possible? (This qualifies as a trailer for Dave Hakstol, What Are You Doing? by the way.)
This is about the kind of game you expect Brian Elliott to give you. Solid throughout, a couple of stoppable but certaintly not weak goals allowed (Boyle's especially was an absolute snipe), and a respectable .905 Save% to go along with the 2 points.
Scott Laughton continues to improve his positioning in Dave Hakstol's mind, as he received second-line minutes today alongside Nolan and Voracek and played another tenacious and gritty game (pun not intended).
After winning their first 4 games of the season, the Devils have now lost their last 2.
It's kind of hard to tangibilize how bad the second unit was last year, but I think this stat does a good job of it - last season, the Flyers were outscored while on the power play when Claude Giroux was not on the ice. In other words, if Giroux was not on, and therefore the top unit was not on, the Flyers would've been better off not being on the power play.
In fact, the Flyers had just 1 power play goal where there wasn't a single member of the top unit on the ice - an Ivan Provorov wrister set up by Brandon Manning through a screen from Dale Weise in front.
Our old buddy Mandog appears to be getting healthy scratched for the Blackhawks 8 games in to the 2-year, $4.5 million contract he signed this offseason. Have fun with that Hawks fans.
Speaking of former Flyers, HOW DOES VALTTERI FILPPULA HAVE 6 POINTS IN 6 GAMES? He literally had 11 in the final 41 (0.27 PPG) games last year. There's your Tavares replacement, Isles fans.
Nolan gets the player of the game helmet today, which now has stickers to commerate the order of those who had previously won the award. Also, in case you were wondering, the wearer of the helmet for each win is decided by the previous recepient (in this case, Scott Laughton).
1st - J. Voracek (PHI) - 1 G, 2 A
2nd - N. Patrick (PHI) - 1 G
3rd - B. Boyle (NJ) - 1 G
NJ - 10/25 vs. NSH (6-1-0)
PHI - 10/22 vs. COL (4-1-2)