Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR1) Gm 35: PHI 3, NYR 2 (SO) - Festivus Raffl
If you had ticket number #12171930 in orange and black, please come down to claim your prize of 2 points in the standings and a holly jolly Christmas!
Because the Philadelphia Flyers WIN their final game pre-Christmas break, 3-2, shootout style, against the New York Rangers; unfortunately, the game was still played at Madison Square Garden and not one of those cute little ice skating rinks outside of Times Square.
But on December 23rd, the day known by Seinfeld and Flyers fans alike as "Fesitvus," the alternate holiday to Christmas meant for the airing of greivances, the Flyers provided very few in this one, winning the always tricky second half of a back-to-back in dramatic fashion, their 3rd win in 4 games under Scott Gordon. So with the holiday season in full swing, let's go into Christmas break with a Festivus-themed breakdown.
Things We Can't Grieve About Because They're Awesome
Four games deep into the post-Hakstol era and it's safe to say that Scott Gordon is in fact a better coach then our old friend Dave Hakstol, from the hit show "Dave Hakstol, What Are You Doing?" Gordon has shown the ability to do things like call timeouts, manage goalies, produce competent special teams, and give young players ice-time. He's certainly not perfect, and Joel Quenneville would still be a nice Christmas gift, but at least we're not getting Hak'd on a daily basis anymore.
He may not be have scored Sunday night, but it's safe to say that 2018 was the best calendar year of Claude Giroux's career (maybe 2012). He's still on pace for 101 points this year, and need I not remind you of that dramatic hat trick he had against these Rangers in Game 82 last year to get us to the playoffs? That's my captain right there, folks.
Starter Hart may not have been that Sunday night as he enjoyed a well-deserved rest on the second-half of the back-to-back. But come on, look at that face. Seriously, look at it. It's gonna look so good holding the Vezina, Conn Smythe, and Stanley Cup all at the same time some day.
Carter Hart may wind up being the best part of this Flyers season if he can keep his good play going, but if not, there's always Gritty to fall back on. He has been there for us for the GM and the head coach getting fired, everyone saying Nolan Patrick is a bust, and countless ineffective power play zone entries. He's the only thing that's kept most of us sane this season. If possible for this holiday season, try to find Gritty and make sure you hang a mistletoe over his head. I promise you won't regret it (just ask Scott Hartnell).
There are a lot of little things teams do in sports that don't get much attention. Faceoffs is one of those things. It also happens to be one of the things the Flyers are good at. As in "best in the league" good. Maybe if they put all that skill into goaltending and the power play and we wouldn't have to worry about airing any grievances in the first place.
Grievances That Have Been Answered
The Penalty Kill
Who'da thunk that actually putting pressure on opposing power plays for once might actually lead to good things? Scott Gordon, apparently. The tweaks he and Ian Lapperriere have made have paid off in spades for the Flyers, who are perfect in the PK department since Gordon took over and are over 87% since November 23rd.
Did you know the Flyers are good at shootouts now? No seriously! The Flyers have won as many shootouts (2) as they did all of last year in 7 more attempts. Michal Neuvirth was a perfect 4-for-4 in goal, while Nolan Patrick recorded his 2nd career shootout winner with a snipe upstairs in the 4th round. It may not have been quite as important as 2010 but it still got the job done.
Remember how I said last game that Simmer only had 2 points in his last 12 games? Apparently he took note of that stat and set out to change it Sunday. A PPG (another grievance answered) early in the 3rd got him on the schneid; it was the Wayne Train's 1st tally since December 8th. Keep upping that trade value, Wayne! You'll be able to fetch us William Nylander in return in no time at this rate.
Another guy who had been struggling this year, Raffl his first goal of the season with a snipe over Lundqvist's glove to give the Flyers their 1st goal in game 21 for him (took him 22 to get his first last year - progress!) For all the good work he's done on the PK and how effective he was down low Saturday, the Austrain Rocket deserved that goal.
Goaltending as a Whole (But Tonight, Neuvy)
For the first time this season, the Flyers actually appear to have two competent, healthy goalies on the roster at the same time. Michal Neuvirth turned in his best game of the season (probably motivated by his new child's upcoming 1st Christmas - never doubt dad power!), stopping 27 of 29 and looking great in goal. Carter Hart's gonna be the main star in this category most nights, but we'll give Neuvy credit where credit's due tonight.
Giving Up Goals in Rapid Succession
I'm not sure if it's better to give up a goal right after you scored one or gave one up, but either way the Flyers need to stop doing both. Seriously, 22 seconds after Simmer scored, Boo Nieves (what kind of name is that?) scored on a tap-in in front to give the Rangers life, and eventually, a point. Please learn how to control your emotions, Flyers. Don't make me hire a team counselor for you guys.
I'm honestly not sure how Boo Nieves was so notable as to get two sections all to himself. Oh wait, it's because this section is dedicated to bad players. Or at least they're bad until they start playing the Flyers. Have you noticed the Flyers always give up someone's first NHL goal or first goal in like 30 games? Like every game? That was Nieves' 1st goal of the season tonight. I get you're trying to be nice and Christmas is the season of giving, yada, yada, yada. Just kindly tell them to go get their milestones somewhere else. Like Shittsburgh.
If the Flyers as a team could get one gift from Santa, it would have to be Ivan Provorov remembering how to play hockey again. On the ice for both Rangers goals (and at fault on the 1st one), Provy's nightmare end to the 2018 calendar year keeps on keeping on. Make his new year's resolution to lock himself in a room with Erik Karlsson until their collective talent reminds both of them how to actually live up to their potentials.
Oskar Lindblom's Ice Time
One of the most promising aspects of Scott Gordon's aspects was that he had built good relationships with pretty much all of the Flyers young talent (excluding Nolan) in Lehigh Valley. As a result, he has placed trust in many of them, giving them a larger role in the NHL. With one notable exception. Oskie may not have done much today, but in fairness, he's playing on a line with Phil Varone and Dale Weise (side grievance - please play Jordan Weal soon). What I wouldn't give for to see Oskar with Nolie and Raff on that 3rd line. It would be swell, Scott. Don't let me (and Oskar) down.
Merry Christmas everyone!
*Everything I usually put in this section is in that grievance breakdown.
1st - M. Neuvirth (PHI) - .941 SV% (32 Saves/34 Shots)
2nd - K. Hayes (NYR) - 1 A
3rd - W. Simmonds (PHI) - 1 G
PHI - 12/27 @ TB (28-7-2)
NYR - 12/27 vs. CBJ (20-12-3)