Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR1) Gm 15: PHI 5, ARI 2 - Calvin and Robs
If you need something to worship, then worship the Flyers - all Flyers, every last crawling bit of it! We're all in this beauty together!
It's a Calvin and Hobbes quote, get it?
Well than get good like the Philadelphia Flyers, who W-I-N, 5-to-2 over the Arizona Coyotes, snatching an impressive 7 out of a possible 8 points on this critical Western road trip.
Look, we can get into whether or not with the Flyers actually doing well on this road trip was a good thing or not long term. After all, the Blackhawks did just fire Joel Quenneville, and had Philadelphia done poorly on the road trip, Dave Hakstol could very will have found himself on the unemployment line. Even a loss last night could've pushed him over the edge after Ron Hextall commented that Monday's game would be the measuring stick for just how successful this road trip after all.
But with their coach's job potentially on the line and Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth both on the shelf (although it seems like neither will be out long term), the Flyers came out of the desert with 2 points. It didn't look like that would be the case early. A relentless Coyotes forecheck caused several agregious turnovers, notably a Jordan Weal giveaway right in the middle of the ice that gave Clayton Keller a mini breakaway. Jake Voracek and Ivan Provorov were also victimized as well. But the Flyers whethered the storm. And the tide began to turn. The Flyers top line was somehow able to keep a bouncing puck alive at the point, and Claude Giroux got loose for what looked like a relatively easy save. But a good screen from Travis Konecny was enough to beat the red hot Darcy Kuemper and give Philadelphia the early lead. The Flyers still haven't grasped the difference between a good start and scoring the first goal, but at least they're doing the second one now.
With time ticking down in the frame, the Flyers then beat the Coyotes in an area Arizona usually doesn't get beat - on the power play. The Coyotes have the 2nd best PK% in the NHL at 90.2%, but it wasn't enough Monday night. On the second of two successive penalties, the Ghost Bear unleashed a Ghost Bomb that took a fortuitous bounce of Derek Stepan's stick and in, giving the Flyers a rare PPG (their 2nd in 4 games since changing the units) and a 2-0 lead after 1.
But of course the Coyotes were bound to take advantage of the Flyers struggling PK as well. Christian Fischer was lost in front of the net (where have I heard that before), setting a perfect screen on Pickard for an Alex Galchenyuk far-side blast to cut the lead in half. And then the Flyers took another penalty right after that and I was convinced the Coyotes were going to tie the game and the Flyers 2-0 lead was going to be wasted by 3 minutes of futility.
But the Flyers were able to kill that off and again whether a Coyote barrage. And then a thing happened.
Travis Sanheim threaded a pass through to Travis Konecny which created a scramble in front of the Arizona net. The puck bounce to Sean Couturier at the right boards, and Coots decided to blast a shot on goal for an easy save for Kee-where did Darcy Keumper go?
Kevin Connauton was apparently still rusty from returning from injury because he thought it would be a good idea to body check Keumper out of the crease, giving the Flyers their 2nd easiest goal of the season (Misha's was still easier and also way funnier) and a 3-1 lead after 40.
Philadelphia did a good job closing things out, staying even with the Coyotes in shots in the 3rd, 15-15. In fact, the Flyers were able to extend their lead when Wayne Simmonds one-handed his way around Alex Goligoski, drawing an interference penalty in the process, before sliding the puck to Captain Claude for a DIRTY backhand goal, his 2nd of the night, and pretty much the dagger. Richard Panik made it interesting late with a deflection off a Michael Grabner wrist shot where the Flyers defense was caught backing up too far. But a few minutes later Oskar Lindbombed the puck into an empty Arizona net to seal the victory. Certaintly not the prettiest win of the season for the Flyers but certaintly one of their biggest, making this Western road trip a major short term success.
Despite the 5 goals the Flyers scored, it's them who should be thanking Cal Pickard, not the other way around. Pickard kept the Flyers in this game with several great saves, especially early, keeping momentum away from the Coyotes and also keeping them off the score sheet. With Michal Neuvirth still unable to stay healthy consistently, I wonder what will happen if Pickard keeps playing he has the last 2 games. I thought he lost his chance to usurp Neuvirth with some early struggles, but he's made the most of his 2nd chance.
The 5 spot the Flyers were able to put up is even more impressive when you consider the fact Arizona was only averaging 2.00 goals against entering play Monday night, the lowest in the NHL. In fact, this was just the 2nd game all season the Coyotes have allowed 3+ goals.
Travis Konecny left the game briefly after taking a hit up high, as did Oskar Lindblom after diving to block a shot. Both returned to the bench later on and should be fine (sigh of relief).
Claude Giroux is now tied for 4th all-time in most games played by a Flyer with Chris Therien. He is 37 games away from catching Brian Propp for 3rd.
With 2 goals and 1 assist, tonight marked the 49th 3+ point game in Claude Giroux's NHL career. Like in games played, he's got a long way to go to catch Bobby Clarke (110 3+ point games).
The Flyers earned points in 4 straight road games for the first time since 2/8/15-2/15/15. They went 2-0-2 in that stretch, beating Washington and Buffalo in between OT losses to Montreal and Columbus.
Monday was Sean Couturier's first multi-point game of the season. He had 21 in the regular season last year and 2 more in the playoffs. The Flyers need him to get going at both ends of the ice badly, and like a lot of Flyers on this road trip, he did just that.
Cool non-Flyers moment: about 13 months after being diagnosed with leukemia, Brian Boyle recorded his first career hat trick Monday night on Hockey Fights Cancer Night in Pittsburgh (one of the few times I'll refer to that city by its actual name). Great moment for sure.
Sorry I've forgotten the POTG helmet the last few wins. Monday night's recepient: Oskar Lindblom.
Most compelling reason not to fire Dave Hakstol: HE WEARS GRITTY SOCKS! And apparently the Flyers are 2-0-0 when he wears them. It's clearly what's responsible for the Flyers turnaround.
1st - C. Giroux (PHI) - 2 G, 1 A
2nd - C. Pickard (PHI) - .944 Save% (34 Saves/36 Shots)
3rd - A. Galchenyuk (ARI) - 1 G
PHI - 10/8 vs. ARI (7-6-0)
ARI - 10/8 @ PHI (7-7-1)