Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR1) Gm 49: WPG 1, PHI 3 - Tip Drill
Can't be stopped, won't be stopped!
Remembers the tank... eh, forget about. The Philadelphia Flyers WIN their 4th straight game for the first time in 11 months, 3-1, over the For-the-Winnipeg Jets, who failed to get that win they were going for this go-round.
A lot has changed since the last time these two teams met. For one, the Flyers don't have the same head coach. The Flyers also have a different roster, with guys like Dale Weise and Michal Neuvirth out (for two entirely different reasons) and Carter Hart and Mikhail Vorobyev in.
Shayne Gostisbehere was also out for tonight's game with a lower-body injury suffered during warm-ups. He will be out tomorrow night as well, but Scott Gordon said it's nothing more than just a bruise. However, GM Chuck Fletcher did just say that Phil Myers had earned a few NHL games in a press conference Monday morning. While he probably won't get the call for a one-game stint, it's something to keep an eye on with the trade deadline looming large.
As one might expect, it took the Flyers a little while to get their game back, coming off the bye week. Hart was forced to make a few good saves early, which is something he's been very good at so far. The Flyers eventually settled in, with a late 1st period power play officially shaking off the rust. The Flyers were out shot 11-8 in the opening frame but felt like they were turning a corner as the period came to a close.
That close came with an asterisk though, as the Flyers took a penalty late in the 1st. Apparently, that penalty had some sort of cheat code with it, because for the next 5 minutes Patrik, no, Hat-trik Laine was unleashed on the Flyers. Seriously, the dude must've had at least 5 A-grade scoring chances over that span, and knowing Patrik Laine, it doesn't take much to turn one of those into a goal. Thankfully, Carter Hart was equal to the task each and every time, and kept the game scoreless until around the halfway mark of regulation.
At that point in time, the newly called Vorobyev found Christian Folin (filling in for Ghost) for a blast from the point. The shot tipped off Michael Raffl, bounced right to the front of the net for the the flying V, Phil Varone (congrats on the new nickname), to stash his 2nd goal of the season. For a guy struggling to score like him, sometimes the best thing to do is just go to the net, and he got rewarded with a juicy rebound that he was able to tap in.
Unfortunately, the Jets wanted a tip of their own. With time winding down on Winnipeg's second power play of the evening, Jack Roslovic tipped in a Josh Morrissey point shot, knotting the score. It's a shame, because the PK was pretty good all night (on 3 tries) and has been trending in the right direction. But a perfect tip by Roslovic gave Hart no chance in front, tying the score.
It looked like that was going to take us to 2nd intermission. But the Flyers were back on the tip game themselves. With 1:16 to go in the frame, T-K tipped-in an AMac point shot, restoring the Flyers one-goal lead at the end of 2. Good for Travis, who looked dynamic in that last game against Montreal (scoring a goal in the process).
The Flyers were still facing an uphill battle. Nursing a one-goal lead going into the final 20, the Flyers of old would've surely sat back and led the electric Winnipeg offense pick them apart and tie the game. Scott Gordon's Flyers had other ideas. Philadelphia came out on their toes in the 3rd period, and it showed. Not just on the shot clock, where they beat Winnipeg 11-9. Not just on the score sheet, which shows JVR putting the game out of reach, tipping in a TK give-and-go in the dying minutes. The eye test, advanced metrics, and most importantly, the final score, all reflected a strong effort from the Orange and Black.
The bottom line is that the Flyers probably aren't going to finish in the bottom 3 in the league. They are still a bad team (maybe mediocre, but that's pushing it) with some glaring problems. But there's just too much talent here. And unlike at the beginning of the season, the goal tending is there to support it, not just get in its way. It won't show this season, but the Flyers are starting to move ahead. The future is still bright, and better yet, it's coming. And I can't wait to see it.
Some other pieces from Fletcher's presser: Brian Elliott is week-to-week, Fletcher has had preliminary talks with Ivan and TK's agents about extensions (both are pending RFAs at seasons' end), and Dale Weise will report to Lehigh Valley (sent down to make room for Misha), although he is not part of the team's plans going forward.
Speaking of Ivan Provorov, tonight was one of his best games of the year. Tasked with playing 28:03 (his third highest total this season), Provy finally looked like the 2017-18 version of himself, making several smart plays with the puck in all three zones. While the team may have wished the bye week didn't happen, there were certainly some individuals that stood to benefit from it. Provy was definitely one of them.
Another guy who could've used the bye week - Patrik Laine. He's got a solid 34 points thus far, but over half of them came in November (19). He's got just 10 over the last two months, but was on fire tonight, firing shot after shot, only to be stopped by Starter Hart each time. If he keeps playing like that, it's only a matter of time before he starts lightning the lamp more.
Yeah, I'd say that Hart kid is pretty good. He became the 4th goalie in Flyers history to post a 4-game winning streak before turning 21, per NHL PR. He has been a revelation, and according to John Boruk, he'll remain up for the rest of the year, as he should. Although Fletcher said he feels Hart would benefit from an AHL playoff run. You know, if he doesn't carry the NHL team there by, well, not losing again.
Tuesday night's game against the Rangers could be a struggle - the Flyers are just 1-8 in their last 9 second halves of back-to-backs. The good news? That one was a 3-2 shootout win in MSG over the Rags right before the holiday break.
As I mentioned, JVR stayed red hot with another goal tonight, his 7th in the last 6 games. He is now on pace for a 32-goal season. The pigeon is finally getting used to his new (old) surroundings.
Monday night was Konecny's 200th NHL game. For the record, he also scored a goal in his 100th game as well (12/12/17 vs. TOR).
Misha didn't look outstanding by any means, but for his first NHL game in 3 months (and a day), it certainly wasn't bad. He was in on the Varone goal and also had a nice stretch pass to spring a rush. Regardless, he's a better option at 4C than Jorald, so giving him an extended look there to see what he can do is in both parties' best interest.
1st - C. Hart (PHI) - .969 SV% (31 Saves/32 Shots)
2nd - T. Konecny (PHI) - 1 G, 1 A
3rd - J. van Riemsdyk (PHI) - 1 G
WPG - 1/29 @ BOS (27-17-5)
PHI - 1/29 @ NYR (21-20-7)