• Andrew McGuinness

Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR1) Gm 36: PHI 5, TB 6 (OT) - Lightning Strikes Twice

Alright Flyers, you’re finally starting to find your stride, 3-1-0 under Gordon, fresh off a nice holiday break, how we gonna play about our second matchup against Tampa this year?

Copy... and paste.

In their 4000th game in franchise history, the Philadelphia Flyers lose, 6-5, in OT, against the Tampa Bay Lit-can I just stop writing and link to the recap for the first matchup between these two now?

Because this game was a carbon copy of the game these two teams played in Philly a month ago, for better (5 goals, great comeback!) and for worse (bad defense, OT breakdown).

At least we don’t have to wonder if they’ve quit on the head coach this time. The Flyers didn’t get out to a particularly great start in my eyes, but were able to nab some momentum via a strong (but unsuccessful) power play, and even got the first goal, courtesy of a beautiful Michael Raffl tip-in, the Austrian Rocket’s 2nd in as many games. Unfortunately, the Flyers were playing with fire, and if you play that way against the Lightning, you know you’re gonna get struck. That works, right? Anyways, Tampa Bay responded with 2 quick goals, the first a one-timer off the rush from the lethal Nikita Kucherov, which was followed by a power play tally from Brayden Point, getting his own rebound off a blocked shot to put the Lightning up at the break. Man, this Lightning team is a juggernaut. Do we even have anyone that can do what they do? OH MY GOSH YES. Less than 5 minutes into the 2nd, Captain Claude went all Harlem Globetrotters on the Lightning defense. In one fluid motion, he pulled the puck through his legs, lifted Ryan McDonagh’s stick, and went around Andrei Vasilevskiy to the tie the game. The best gift of all is of course beautiful goals, and Santa Claude delivered the top item of every Flyers fan’s wishlist this holiday season, tying the game 2-2 (and drawing a PP for a failed offsides challenge in the process). Yet hockey is still the ultimate team game. The Lightning have like 5 guys that can do that. Philadelphia? Um, just throw Giroux out there again. But you can’t keep the Captain out there for a full 60, and the Flyers fell victim to the Lightning’s own star power. Steven Stamkos somehow snuck into the slot like Santa Claus down the chimney - unseen - and sniped on Neuvy to restore the Lightning’s lead. He then scored a one-T bullet on the PP off a beautiful tic-tac-goal play with Kucherov and Hedman. Then with SECONDS remaining in the frame, a Kucherov shot hit Tyler Johnson and flopped into the net like a lump of coal in Andrew MacDonald’s stocking, giving Tampa a commanding 5-2 lead going into the 3rd. Might as well call it a night. But what about the last time they played, and the Flyers game back from down 5-1 in the last half of the 3rd? Yeah, what about it? That was under a different coach, in a different building, with a non-Vezina caliber goalie in net. Besides, the Lightning are one of the best teams in the NHL, do you really think they’re gonna let that happen again? Yet somehow the Flyers found themselves on the board just 1:27 in when a JVR pass went off Dale the Snail’s skate and in. Kinda looked like a kick to me but we’ll take it. Evidently, the Flyers just weren’t going to go away. After some more pressure, Captain Claude found Robert Hagg for a Swedish slapper last Vasilevskiy to trim the lead to 1. Wait, TK made contact with him, they’re probably gonna challen-oh right, they already used their challenge on G’s goal. 5-4. With 15:39 to go. No way. Somehow, they just kept coming. Furious offense. Mad scrambles in front of Vasilevskiy. A faceoff win to Jake Voracek for a kick pass across... SWEET, BABY, JESUS, IVAN PROVOROV!!!!!!!!! Jesus may not be reborn until April but Ivan Provorov’s offense gets reborn NOW, with a short side snipe to tie the game up 8:38 into the 3rd. How is this even possible? The Flyers surge wore off shortly after that, as Tampa Bay came back strong in the final half off the frame. Michal Neuvirth, who hadn’t been at fault for any of the first 5 goals, came up large down the stretch (as did the PK), and despite some good chances for both sides, the score stayed tied after 60. To 3-on-3 we go! And they even win the face off to start? Wow, maybe they’ll make it through the first minute without losing-no, what the heck was that, G? No. No. NO. Alex Killorn at EIGHTEEN SECONDS keeps the trend of the Flyers losing as fast as physically possible in overtime, sniping on Neuvirth to officially make this literally the same game these two teams played in Philly last month. Good night, good holidays, good comeback, but bad finish. If there seemed like there were a lot of sudden pauses and turns of momentum in this article, well, that’s how things have been, not just tonight but all season. The Flyers have shown signs of being ready to take the next step, but poor defense and inconsistent goaltending once again did them in. They may have two games left in 2018, but I’ll tell you what the Flyers New Year’s Resolution needs to be - consistency. Maybe then they can actually make something of this season. Until then, it’ll be just glimpses, followed by frustration, for a team that STILL can’t get out of their own way, even if they have looked better under Scott Gordon. Game Notes On the other hand, Tampa Bay’s consistency has been impressive. 3 different players have a point in 5+ straight - Stamkos - 5 (with a goal in each), Point - 5, and Kucherov - 9. Flyers-Lightning is quietly developing into a marquee matchup that all fans should seek out. The teams have combined for 35 goals over their last 3 meetings, with at least one team getting to 5 in each of the last 5 contests. The Lightning are now a perfect 9-0-0 against the Metro this year, which is no surprise considering they have a 51.2% power play against the Metro this season (21-for-41). The Flyers power play may not have scored Thursday (0-2), but their last 2 games marked the first time the Flyers have scored a PPG in consecutive games since 10/9-10/10. Have been really unimpressed with Andrew MacDonald’s play lately, culminating with him basically laying on Neuvy on Point’s goal. Christian Folin may not be anything special, but I like what I’ve seen from him earlier better than AMac. Speaking of Neuvirth, he was solid in this one, certainly better than the stats suggested. He was hung out to dry by his defense, yet made some big saves down the stretch when needed. That been saying, the Flyers really could’ve used a save on Killorn’s OT winner. Surprised Starter Hart didn’t get the call, but I guess they wanted to reward Neuvy for his good game on Sunday. I suspect we’ll see Hart Saturday. Nolan Patrick got into a fight in this one, but also appeared to get injured while jostling in front right before the 3-2 goal. He was listed as “unlikely” to return him with an upper-body in the 3rd period, hopefully suggesting his injury isn’t too serious. If the formatting for this looks a little different than usual, it’s because I’m typing this on my phone instead of a laptop since I’m on vacation. Same reason if I don’t update the banner the next few days. I’m in Dallas for the Cotton Bowl (Go Irish!)*

*Update - should be good now. The format, that is. The Irish, not so much. 3 Stars 1st - N. Kucherov (TB) - 1 G, 3 A 2nd - S. Stamkos (TB) - 2 G. 2 A 3rd - A. Killorn (TB) - 1 G Next PHI - 12/29 @ FLA (15-14-6) TB - 12/29 vs. MTL (19-13-5)