Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR1) Gm 75: NYI 4, PHI 2 - Reffed Up
And that's the season, folks. Sorry, Gritty.
No more maybe's, no more what if's. The future may be right, but the present is bleak. The Philadelphia Flyers lose to the New York Islanders and NHL referees 4 goals to 2, and 4 terrible penalties to 3 makeup calls. With the loss, the Flyers can only reach 94 points, a number that almost certainly won't be enough to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
A lot of people will say this loss was on the officials. But that's not entirely true. For 40 minutes, the Flyers were absolutely dominated. In a recent trend that is becoming all too common, the Flyers were outshot 29-15 through the first two periods. They only trailed 2-1, thanks to a strange bounce off the boards that resulted in a carom off Lehner and in. Oh, and that Carter Hart kid was pretty good once again.
But the referees did their best to take the Flyers out of the game. It started when Robert Hagg was given a double minor for watching Brock Nelson high-stick Anders Lee, the second time he's been victimzed in that type of play this year. Second, the refs ignored a clear boarding penalty on Matt Martin that knocked Sean Couturier out of the game momentarily. The king of them all was in the 3rd, when Ryan Hartman was given an interference penalty for getting slammed into Robin Lehner. And then alternate captain Jake Voracek got an unsportsmanlike call for voicing his displeasure.
Yet the Flyers kept on fighting. Some fans may have been convinced that this recent run would spring the Flyers into the playoffs; others remained doubtful. Regardless, you have to admire the valiancy of the Philadelphia Flyers, both in the game and in the season. Philadelphia killed off other 3 minutes of 5-on-3 action throughout the game, and looked dominant on their own two power plays. The first one came down 2-1 in the 3rd, and ended after 4 seconds when a Ghost Bomb beat Robin Lehner.
However, both in the game and in the season, the Flyers terrible start meant they had no margin for error down the stretch. Despite playing their best hockey in the 3rd period, Philly was always one bad bounce away from devastation. Sure enough, Josh Bailey took a snapping a 12-game goal drought (of course) to break the tie. Then the Flyers got too desperate, Provy got caught up ice, and Bailey buried another goal to put the contest out of reach.
Instead of a regular game notes today, we're going to talk about Scott Gordon. Because before the Flyers can make any blockbuster trades or sign any top-tier free agents, Chuck Fletcher needs to figure out his team's future behind the bench. The first part of that process? Asking if Scott Gordon should stay or go.
Gordon took over for the fired Dave Hakstol on December 17th, 2018. The Flyers were 12-15-4 under Hak; they are 22-12-4 with Gordon at the helm. That's despite an 0-6-2 swoon near the turn of the calendar year that everyone thought meant the Flyers were destined to be a lottery team (they're going to be right, but it's closer than we all thought). Under Gordon, Starter Hart has grown into a borderline elite goalie. Phil Myers has transitioned smoothly to the NHL level. The once awful special teams have become passable. Useless veterans Jori Lehtera, Dale Weise, and Andrew MacDonald, staples on Hakstol's Flyers, have seen their roles vanish.
However, you could make the argument that Gordon isn't necessarily responsible for those events. While he's a former goalie, Gordon isn't a goalie coach, so it's hard to credit him too much for Hart. The assimilation of Myers, as well as the improvements of Ghost and Provy and the rise of Travis Sanheim, can be credit to Rick Wilson, since his job is to run the D. The special teams? Gordon has certainly offered his input, but the power play and penalty kill are run by Kris Knoblauch and Ian Laperriere, respectively. Are there improvements due to Gordon's input or not being bossed around by Hakstol?
Even if you do give Gordon credit for those positives, there's one major problem. Of the 39 different coaches in the NHL, Scott Gordon's Flyers have the 4th worst Corsi For% (only Guy Boucher and Marc Crawford's Senators and Dan Quinn's Rangers are worse) at just 46.70%, per Natural Stat Trick. For those not familar with Corsi, that means the Flyers have just 46.70% of the total shot attempts in their games under Gordon. Therefore, opponents have the other 53.30%. Under Dave Hakstol, that number was at a solid 51.25%.
That number alone doesn't mean that there's no way Gordon should come back. However, if the Flyers do decide to keep Gordon around, he and the rest of the coaching staff need to figure out a way to turn that number around. Even with Carter Hart in goal, and accounting for potential reinforcements, it's going to be difficult for the Flyers to make a playoff push next season if that number doesn't improve. Whether Gordon can do or it's up to an outsider is up to the Flyers, both up in management and on the ice.
1st - J. Bailey (NYI) - 2 G
2nd - B. Nelson (NYI) - 1 G, 1 A
3rd - S. Couturier (PHI) - 1 A
NYI - 3/24 vs. ARI (36-32-7)
PHI - 3/24 @ WSH (43-24-8)