FFR2 Gm 10: PHI 3, NYI 5 - Mindslanders Games
Updated: Apr 24
Have you ever heard of the definition of insanity?
Apparently, it's doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. But it's well associated with this franchise. On Sunday night, the Flyers fell back into the habits that plagued the 2018-19 season. Unsurprisingly, it ended it a sound defeat at the hands of the red-hot New York Islanders by a 5-3 final tally, their seventh straight victory.
Everyone's got a little insanity in them, especially hockey players. ESPECIALLY goalies. But there's something to be said about the incredible comeback last night, the brief high of the three game winning streak that appeared to carry over when Jake Voracek deflected a gorgeous pass from Travis Sanheim into the back of the net 67 seconds into the contest fading into darkness and that annoying "Yes, yes, yes!" chant.
In his first start in eight days, Carter Hart looked... bad? Yeah, I'm gonna go with bad. It's especially frustrating that Starter picked this game to look like a 21-year old, because the last two starts weren't anything to write home about. Hart was shelled for five goals on just fourteen shots, and failed to make it to the halfway mark of the game before being pulled. Over his last three starts, Hart has been pulled twice and recorded an abysmal .721 save percentage in that span.
That being said, a lot of people are going to get after Hart for his poor performance tonight on social media. Don't be one of them. He's a 21-year old with less than 40 NHL games under his belt. In most of those games, he's been stellar. Every single young player, especially goaltenders, will go through growing pains. Tonight was just that for Hart. It's still most likely that he kills it in his next start, and within a week or two we're right back to building our shrines.
Besides, it's not like Hart was the only Flyer who laid an egg Sunday. Though most of the goals Hart allowed should have been saved, you can make the argument that most of those shots should've never happened. The Flyers defense was absolutely atrocious for most of the game. Travis Sanheim apparently went color blind for the final 58 plus minutes and put most of his passes on New York tape. The new third pair of Shayne Gostisbehere and Sam Morin both a posted Corsi For under 50% (bad) and xG under 16% (you would've done better). The expected goals at 5-v-5 overall? 3.86-1.97 for the Isles. No wonder Hart didn't come out of this game with good stats.
There are even a couple of positives you can take out of this game if you look close enough. Claude Giroux is starting to get his swagger back, scoring for the second time in three games. Travis Konecny remains red-hot, tallying his team-best 6th goal and scoring for the fifth straight game. Rookies Mikhail Vorobyev and Joel Farabee both played well (the latter was robbed on more great chances, go figure). And Brian Elliott was incredible in relief - he's the only reason this game doesn't look like a rout in the box score. Not many teams look great in their 3rd game in 4 nights, especially against a team on fire.
But, this IS still the Flyers. We've all been burnt too many times before by this nightmare roller-coaster ride disguised as a hockey team, especially over the last seven years (which is actually longer than I've been a fan, and I still feel the pain). This year, we see the team, and they look good on the ice most nights. We see the analytics, and boy are they impressive. And we know that Carter Hart is probably gonna look like he did against New Jersey more often than how he looked tonight.
No one is gonna fully believe until the wins start coming. That's the cold truth. We're all scared to stick our necks out there for this team, because every time we've done so in recent memory, they've let us down and turned us and our team into a punchline. It's encouraging to see that throughout each of these first ten games, the punchline has punched back (s/o Steve Dangle for that line). Some nights they've punched harder than others, but there's been plenty of fight in this suddenly all too hungry dog. But it's going to take a lot more than potential to make this fanbase believe that there isn't a knockout blow coming sooner rather than later.
Tonight was just another night in a long list of nights where the belief we all have for this team (it's there whether you're willing to admit it or not) felt like it should be classified as insanity. It was a feeling that became all too familiar last season. The good news? All of the signs are here for the Flyers to flip this narrative on its head. We've all seen them with our own eyes - but soon, we need to start seeing it in the standings.
Besides, it's not like the Flyers gave up all kinds of offense to a team that can't score. That was a problem for the Isles last year, but this is the second consecutive game they've chased the opposing team's starter. Ottawa's Anders Nilsson was pulled after allowing 12 goals on 16 shots in 26 minutes of work on Friday.
The Islanders domination only the past two weeks is especially impressive because of how much damage they've had to do at 5-v-5. They've only had eight power plays throughout their 7 game win streak.
I actually thought Sam Morin, who replaced Robert Hagg tonight, looked good in the first period. He moved the puck well and used his body effectively. But his decision making got worse as the game went on, and his lack of acceleration reared its ugly head when Barzal blew by him straight up the middle on the 5-2 goal. Granted, there's rust to be expected, but Morin will need to play better if he wants to stay in the lineup.
Morin's bad night aside, benching Robert Hagg was the right move. Hagg is by far the Flyers worst defenseman by Corsi (49.36%) and second-worst xG (47.52%, ahead of only his partner, Shayne Gostisbehere). He had a poor showing on Saturday as well. If neither can pick up their act, it's possible Phil Myers (59.89% Corsi*, 3 points in 6 AHL games) gets another shot.
Remember Cole Bardreau, former Flyer prospect we were all worried Hakstol was going to turn into the next Chris VandeVelde in 2017? He got his NHL point on Ross Johnston's 3-1 goal. Second straight night someone's got their first NHL point against the Flyers. Figures.
Update: I was wrong on my POG guess from last night. Apparently, JVR got the award, not Hollywood Hayes. So he ties Hart, Moose, TK, and Raff as 1-time winners. Still no one at 2. Winning's the only way to fix that.
This marks my 200th article since I created this thing in July 2018. Thank you to everyone who has read (I could probably thank you individually tbh). Make sure you share this with all of the hockey fans you know, and follow us on Twitter @BackOTNet!
1st - Mathew Barzal (NYI) - 1 Goal
2nd - Anders Lee (NYI) -1 Goal, 1 Assist
3rd - Jakub Voracek (PHI) - 1 Goal, 1 Assist
PHI - 10/29 @ PIT (7-5-0, W1 - You better not lose to them on my birthday again!)
NYI - 11/1 vs. TB (5-3-2, OTL1)
*This specific stat from Phancystats.com, all other advanced stats from Naturalstattrick.com
**Photo Credit: Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images