Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR1) Gm 21: PHI 2, BUF 5 - Bummalo
Remember that whole optimism thing we had going like 2 weeks ago? That was fun.
What wasn't fun was the Philadelphia Flyers losing their 4th straight game in a row, 5-2, to the Buffalol Sabres. Even worse, we can no longer call them Buffalol on account of the fact they're actually good (more on that later).
Tonight's game certaintly qualified as a Dave Hakstol - What Are You Doing? episode. He made a semi-good decision in bringing Folin back in for AMac, and an evitable one in starting Alex Lyon. But scratching rookie Nicholas Aube-Kubel (who's done well in limited minutes) for Jorald? Yeah, that qualifies all right. So much for that lineup optomization plan.
Unfortunately for Hak, and the Flyers, he chose the wrong night for the middle of those moves. Lyon was absolutely brutal in goal tonight, allowing 4 goals on just 12 shots early. Not all of that was his fault - the Flyers got off to a trademark slow start, being outshot 12-7 in the opening frame. But Johan Larsson's "snipe" with 8 seconds to go in the 1st signaled the end of Lyon's night - Cal Pickard was out by the start of the 2nd.
Fresh off their incredible 4-goal comeback Saturday against Tampa Bay, the Flyers once again threw the kitchen sink (or close to it) at Carter Hutton. Sure, they got back into the game of tight-range tallies from Captain Claude and the Wayne Train. They even outshot the Sabres 18-9 over the final two stanzas. But the Sabres closed things out with some things the Flyers have not gotten - a timely PK early in the 3rd, some big saves by Hutton, and, of course, an empty-netter from Sam Reinhart.
Once again, the Flyers simply failed to show up for a game. They are great at coming back - they proved that medal for sure on Saturday. But the reason why that's so important is because they so often fail to show up for games.
And the main burden for that has to fall, as do so many things, on the coaching staff. The question I've seen many reporters ask about Hakstol's status - should be credited for pulling the team out of trouble so many times, or be held responsible for getting them in trouble in the first place? My answer is both, but he should be reprimanded more than praised. And yes, I still think Hakstol should be fired. Just because I don't say it after every game doesn't mean I still don't think. Joel Quenneville (or a lot of people for that matter) could make this team infinitely better. Hakstol is clearly holding them back in my eyes and unless he can do something substantial to prove he can fix that NOW, he should be gone.
The Flyers tried to build their team on the fly, staying competitive while accumulating draft picks and young prospects in the process. Over Hexy's tenure, the Flyers have made plenty of win-now moves (like signing JVR) and moves a seller would make (like trading Brayden Schenn). The Sabres built their team by tanking - they were dead last in 2015 and 2018 and haven't made the playoffs since 2011 (when they lost to the Flyers in the 1st round). Which approach was better? The last few years, it's seemed like the Flyers, but Buffalo is 14-6-2 and 3rd in the Atlantic, 1 point back of 1st place Tampa Bay. In the long-run, it may up end up being Buffalo, whether we want to admit it or not.
I'll end with this: the Flyers have now lost 4 straight. Yesterday's game was placed on November 21st. That day in 2017, the Flyers lost 5-2 to the Canucks, their 4th straight loss. They would go on to lose their next 6 games as well. That can't happen again.
Remember when the Flyers were 2nd in the Metro a week and a half ago? They're now 2nd for the basement for the East and last in the Metro. Oh how quickly things change.
Want a stastical example of bad Buffalo has been? They have won 6 straight games for the first time since 2006.
Michael Raffl and Michal Neuvirth were both skating earlier this week, 2 players the team could desperately use back.
Black Friday's opponents the Rangers are actually one of the hotter teams in the NHL - they are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games and 2nd in the Metro.
After I said after the Flyers first 10 games another 4-6-0 stretch would get Hak fired, they put up a 5-3-2 pace. Better I guess, but they started that run 5-1-1. Things feel like they're trending the wrong way. Again.
Jakub Voracek has been one of the few stars that has struggled recently for the Flyers. He only had 1 shot on goal, didn't create much of scoring chances, and was unable to settle down a bouncing puck that led to the Sabres ENG. Other than good 3rd periods against Florida and New Jersey, he has been largely invisible the last 2 weeks.
Most importantly - Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Enjoy the holidays as they should be - with family, and with lots of yelling at football games. Then back to hockey on Friday.
1st - E. Rodrigues (BUF) - 1 G, 1 A
2nd - J. McCabe (BUF) - 21:37 TOI, T-Team High 1:48 SH TOI
3rd - J. Eichel (BUF) - 1 A
PHI - 11/23 vs. NYR (12-8-2)
BUF - 11/23 vs. MTL (11-7-4)