Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR1) Gm 9: COL 4, PHI 1 - A Snowball's Chance
The only lines better in the NHL than Landeskog-MacKinnon-Rantanen are the ones Jori Lehtera's on.
And not the ones with Dale Weise.
The Philadelphia Flyers lose another chance to take control of their season, 4-1, to the Colorado Avalanche. The scoreboard doesn't tell the full story of this one - the work ethic was certaintly there for the Flyers, but the Avalanche certaintly weren't gifted this victory.
Unfortunately, as has been the theme of this Flyers season, the Avs got off to a good start and never looked back. For the 8th time in 9 games this season, the Flyers surrendered the 1st goal. As are death and taxes, the Flyers penalty kill losing a man in front of the net is one of the unfortunate certainties of life, and it plagued them once again here. Brian Elliott got a little out of position fighting off a scramble in front and with him and Ivan Provorov looking the wrong way, the most undervalued piece of that deadily top line Mikko Rantanen fired the puck home into an empty net, giving the Avs the early lead.
Colorado kept their strong play up for the next few minutes, but the Flyers once again flipped the switch around the halfway mark of the frame. Suddenly the puck spent more time in the Avalanche zone, and the Flyers began to create some chances, culminated by Radko Gudas hitting the inside of the post.
This hard work was bound to result in a goal. Just not for the Flyers of course. The Avalanche took advantage of a counter rush opportunity and Matt Nieto was able to beat Elliott with a quick shot from the slot to double up the Colorado lead late in the 2nd.
This was followed by more Flyers pressure and, you guessed it, another Avalanche goal. Claude Giroux turned the puck over off a Flyers faceoff win and Gabriel Landeskog was off to the races. Landeskog beat Robert Hagg to the net and Brian Elliott in net with an Barkov-like backhander to seemingly put the game out of reach.
The Flyers were not deterred though. Deciding to put even more pressure, clearly risking another Avalanche goal at this point, Nolan Patrick was able to deflect a shot from Travis Sanheim home, our Rosie Cheeked Sniper's 2nd goal in as many games to give the fans some life.
They almost got more of it when Dale Weise had a golden chance off a rebound, but Dale caught iron. This wound up being the closest the Flyers came to scoring again, and after Dave Hakstol waited far too long to pull Elliott down by 2 goals, Gabriel Landeskog picked Wayne Simmonds's pocket and deposited the ENG to seal a 4-1 win for the red-hot Colorado Avalanche, who had already ended perfect seasons for New Jersey and Carolina last week.
Just like most games, this was a frusturating loss for the Flyers to take. They outshot the Avalanche 38-33, but it seemed like they were forced to the outside a lot and weren't able to create a lot of high-danger chances. That was ok on Saturday when they were doing the same to the Devils, but were unable to contain the potent Avalanche Monday night. Both the Flyers and Avalanche are composed similarily in their roster - the difference is the Avs actually know how to play good defense and have one of the hottest goalies in the NHL in Seymon Varlamov (along with a reliable 1B in Philipp Grubauer). Colorado was a popular pick to fall out of the playoff picture in favor of a team like St. Louis or Dallas in the preseason, but they've looked good in the early going. We'll see if they can keep it up.
I wasn't kidding about Varlamov being one of the hottest goalies in the NHL - he came in to tonight with a 1.77 GAA and a .948 Save%, which he one-upped with a .974% tonight. He's on a contract year, so it's especially big for him to play well this year. Good start so far.
After picking up 3 points (1-0-1) against the Avalanche last year, the Flyers go 0-2-0 this season against Colorado. They failed to pick up a point against 3 teams last year - Nashville, Minnesota, and Los Angeles.
I haven't had a chance to prove it this season, but man if you're a player on a bit of a scoring drought step right up for a virtually guaranteed point against the Flyers. Tonight's recepients were Matt Nieto (1st goal of the season) and Matt Calvert (1st point as an Av).
With points tonight, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen became the 1st pair of Avalanche (or Nordique) teammates to both record a point in their 1st 9 games of a season. History in the making, people.
Michael Raffl went down awkwardly into the boards in the 2nd period and left for the remainder of the game with a lower-body injury, putting almost no weight on his left leg skating off. He is out 4-6 weeks, as Ron Hextall announced Tuesday, which is a crushing blow to an already terrible Flyers PK. There's one way to get Mikhail Vorobyev back in the lineup.
Oh who am I kidding he's getting replaced by Corban Knight and we all know it.
Shayne Gostisbehere got hit in the leg with a clearing attempt in the 3rd and was really slow to get up (where have we heard that before? *cough cough JVR*). Thankfully he returned to the game after missing a shift. He might be the most important person in this Flyers lineup with Ivan Provorov still looking to break out of his early season slump (another baby step for him tonight in my eyes).
Dave Hakstol reunitied the Provorov-Gostisbehere pairing later in the game. With Provy making a little bit of progress, we'll see if he goes back to that pairing on Thursday night.
Travis Sanheim was 3rd amongst Flyers defenseman in time on ice tonight, an indicator that Dave Hakstol is seeing his play as strong as most of the fanbase. He's probably been the most consistent Flyers defenseman with the puck this year.
After struggling mightily on Saturday, I thought PP1 looked much better on their 1st attempt, but stagnated as the game went on. The Flyers desperately needed a goal from their power play to start the 3rd (they had 1:58 to do it), but came up well short, and left the game slip away as a result. The top unit is now scoreless in the last 5 games.
Honestly, as much crap as we give them, the 4th line of Raffl-(before he was injured)-Lehtera-Weise hasn't been that bad from a territorial standpoint. They don't have the skill to finish off the chances they created (see above), but at the very least they're not the net negative that most were expecting of that trio.
After failing to climb over .500 once again, and now more than 10% through the regular season, the Flyers need to get going. The have always been a 2nd half team (except 2016-17 but we don't like to talk about that), but a slow start can often be more detrimental than you think. Here's to tonight being the last time the Flyers are below .500. I hope.
1st - G. Landeskog (COL) - 1 G, 1 A
2nd - M. Rantanen (COL) - 2 G
3rd - N. Patrick (PHI) - 1 G
COL - 10/24 vs. TBL (5-1-1)
PHI - 10/25 @ BOS (4-2-2)