FFR2 Gm 8: PHI 4, CHI 1 - All's Unfairabee in Love and Hockey
Try to stay onside while reading this, ok? Especially if this is your first article of the day. You know why.
Unfortunate refereeing aside, the Philadelphia Flyers WIN for the fourth time this season, the second victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, beating them 4-1 in the Windy City. For the second time this season, the Flyers are on a two-game winning streak! Hopefully this one lasts a little bit longer.
After a series of games where the Flyers dominated their competition but came up short on the scoreboard, Philadelphia has played two decent but not stellar games, but the hockey gods have smiled upon them with a couple of wins. Despite the fact that Chicago had a 59.04% Corsi For, the game was pretty even in terms of chances. The Blackhawks got the puck to the higher-danger areas, but missed the net or were unable to get a shot away frequently. The Flyers were more opportunistic (perhaps even too eager to score, which I'll get to), and as a result, come away with the win.
After a strong few opening shifts for Chicago, the Flyers began to get their act together as the first period progressed and started to drive play. Six minutes in, they appeared to break the ice, when Joel Farabee dimed and dashed to the slot before threading a *sweet* pass to the net-mouth that Kevin Hayes tipped in. Unfortunately, replay showed the play was pretty clearly offsides, and so the opening tally was wiped out.
But, if at first you don't succeed, try try again as they say, and that worked out pretty well for the Flyers. Gradually, the Flyers began to pick up their pace, and when Duncan Keith turned the puck over at his own blueline, the Flyers were ready to pounce. Travis Konecny won the race to the puck at center, and turned the 2-on-1 rush into a backdoor Oskar Lindbomb, chipped over the blocker of Lehner for Oskie's team-leading 5th goal of the young season.
That goal served as the first of two massive turning points for the Flyers on Thursday night. It gave the Flyers momentum going into the second period, which they once again absolutely dominated. It's becoming their favorite period by far. It started 59 seconds in, when Travie Sanheim pinched in from the left point and found Captain Claude for a tip in-front passed a surprised Lehner. A long, long, long time coming for G, as he finally tallies for the first time this season!
But it didn't end there. The Flyers ran the show throughout the frame, holding the Blackhawks to just one shot on goal, the second time they've done that in a period this season (2nd period - Dallas). Philadelphia took 13 of them, getting to the high-danger areas as well as putting plenty of pucks on net. Unfortunately, Robin Lehner felt down the fort, and the Flyers play turned into smoke and mirrors in the 3rd. Brandon Saad scored on a breakaway just 60 seconds in, and the Blackhawks suddenly took control, taking the first six shots of the period.
Do you remember the part where I said Lindblom's goal was one of TWO turning points in this game? Well, here comes the second one. The Flyers were able to clear the puck from their own zone out to the red line. Brent Seabrook, now clearly a shell of his former glory, couldn't handle the puck, inadvertently tipping the puck to the middle of the ice. Former Chicago draft pick Kevin Hayes was there waiting for it, stormed up the middle of the ice on a clear-cut breakaway, and beat Lehner with a wrist shot glove side, crucially extending the Flyers lead!
The rest of the period (mostly) belonged to Brian Elliott. Moose stopped 15 of 16 Chicago shots on goal. The Blackhawks generated 1.23 expected goals for based on the quality of their shot attempts, a very high number for one period, and yet Elliott only allowed one. At the beginning of the season, Chuck Fletcher said that Hart and Elliott would split starts about 50-30, but didn't say who would get which number. It is early, and Hart will likely bounce back, but so far Brian Elliott looks capable of not just playing in 50 games, but playing well in them.
With the Flyers looking for a dagger, Joel Farabee once again went to the attack. He stripped Saad at the Chicago blue-line, cutting in for a breakaway. Joel was stopped on the initial shot, but got his own rebound, and scored on Lehner! His first career goal! Joel Farabee, who has done everything right and hardly been rewarded for it since training camp, is finally getting the recognition he deser-WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT'S OFFSIDES?
Hayes clearly didn't tag up at the blue-line in time, and so Farabee's goal rightfully didn't count. By about a quarter of an inch. The Flyers eventually found their dagger in the form of a ghastly giveaway by Erik Gustafsson, leading to a breakaway goal for James van Off-the-schneid-sdyk, who deserved that goal even more than Farabee. That made it 4-1 Flyers, where it would stay until the final horn.
In short, the Flyers didn't play an amazing game Thursday night. But the Blackhawks gave Philadelphia several chances to take control of the game, and the Flyers took full advantage. The Flyers gave up those same kind of chances, but Brian Elliott was there to keep the Flyers in a comfortable position. There's work to do, but it's already starting to get done.
Thursday night marked the Flyers fifth straight win over the Blackhawks, dating back to November 1st, 2017. They also have completed their first season series of the season. A sweep is a pretty good way to start.
One actually bad thing that happened - with about 30 seconds left, Michael Raffl was stung badly blocking a shot from the point. Raffl did not put any pressure on his right leg as he skated off the ice (with aid from teammates) and hobbled to the tunnel. But it's been confirmed to be just a stinger, and Raffl was at the Flyers morning skate Saturday morning. Sigh of relief for Raff.
When asked if he felt sorry for cancelling out two potential Farabee points, Kevin Hayes said that Farabee was too slow on the first play, and too fast on the second one, so hopefully next time he'll get it just right. Tell me you're not laughing right now.
The Flyers penalty kill was absolutely dominate Thursday night. They killed off all four Blackhawks power plays with a refreshing mix of aggressiveness and responsibility in coverage. It's been much better than their 79.2% success rate suggests.
Philadelphia only had one power play longer than 30 seconds Thursday, and while they didn't score, it was so nice to see Claude Giroux back on the left side. G has spent most of his career there, where he has dominated opposing PKs for years. Playing him on the right does make receiving passes a little easier, but comes at the high price of his deadly one-timer.
Brian Elliott has officially caught up to his fellow goalie Carter Hart in the POG helmet standings. They, TK, and Michael Raffl each have earned the honor once.
1st - Claude Giroux (PHI) - Breakthrough Goal (1/2)
2nd - James van Riemsdyk (PHI) - Breakthrough Goal (2/2)
3rd - Brian Elliott (PHI) - .958 SV%, 1 GA on 2.16 xGA
PHI - 10/26 vs. CBJ (5-3-2)
CHI - 10/26 @ CAR (6-3-1)
*Advanced Stats from Naturalstattrick.com