FFR2 Gm 19: PHI 1, OTT 2 - UnOTTceptable
Why are you the way that you are, Flyers?
This FFR should have been nothing but positive. I should be talking about how the Flyers built off a competitive matchup with the Washington Capitals on Wednesday. About how Carter Hart has been downright stellar in November (and he still is, tonight didn't change that). About how the superstars on this team, the guys making the big bucks, the five players making $6.5 million plus are *this* close to stepping up where it matters most.
Instead I've got to talk about an unacceptable 2-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators. Yes, I know they haven't been total crap so far this season. They're a respectable 8-10-1 in the standings. Natural Stat Trick pegs them at 13th in the NHL in xGF%, slightly ahead of the Flyers, who rank 16th. Anders Nilsson has been a great feel good story in goal, ending Friday's game with a .925 save percentage on the season.
But how is this loss different from the dozens of games over the past half decade where the Flyers have played down to inferior competition? The countless times they've made a backup caliber goalie look like a Vezina winner? The constant failures of their special teams, highlighted tonight by a power play that went 0-5, including failing to score on a double-minor in the final 5 minutes of the game?
Spoiler alert: it isn't. Just when this team looked to be turning a corner, just like in April 2016 and December 2016 and February 2018 and November 2019 and January 2019, they came crashing back down to Earth. Remember at the beginning of the month how the Flyers were leading the league in Corsi? In November, they're 24th in that all important stat.
At least they started the game on time. That's about the only good thing. The Flyers came out guns blazing early in the 1st, and were rewarded with Tyler Pitlick's first goal as a Flyer (and a heck of a snipe at that) just 2:46 in, making his 200th NHL game memorable (Andy Andreoff recorded his first point as a Flyer on the goal as well).
After the first five minutes, the Flyers completely let Ottawa take control of the game. Ottawa's lack of scoring talent kept the game close, while Anders Nilsson's stellar goaltending (yeah, that's a thing apparently!) prevented the Flyers from pulling away. A dominant second period for the Senators saw bang-bang goals from Tyler Ennis and Filip Chlapik put the Sens in front for good. Even though the Flyers pushed hard in the 3rd, they were somehow unable to finish against a Sens team with the 10th most goals allowed in the NHL.
This game was an absolute wasted opportunity for the Flyers. Now, they'll have to return home and face the New York Islanders, the 5th best team in the league who kicked the Flyers to the curb a few weeks ago, tired and coming off the frustration of a loss. If you are starting Carter Hart on the first half of a back-to-back, that game is must win, especially if you are playing a team as poor as the Sens. To come away with no points is inexcusable.
HOPEFULLY this is just another one of the growing pains I talked about last time that the Flyers are going to continue to go through as they still get used to Alain Vigneault, on and off the ice. But it's a tough lesson to accept in the here and now. Remember, for all the good that this team has accomplished so far, they still only have 6 regulation wins in 19 games. Those who live by one goal games tend to die by them as well. The Flyers did just that Friday night. They already have some success this season, but now is a critical juncture where they need to push themselves to be the best team they can be. Because that's certainly not who we saw lose last night.
Ottawa's record over the last two plus NHL seasons: 65-100-18 (.404 points percentage). Dead last in the NHL. Their record against the Flyers in that same timespan? 4-3-0 (.571 points percentage, a 93-point pace). That's all you need to know about the last half decade plus of Flyers hockey right there.
1st - Anders Nilsson (OTT) - .963 SV% (26/27), 1 GA on 1.46 xGA
2nd - Filip Chlapik (OTT) - GW Goal, 87.50 CF%, 100% xGF
3rd - Tyler Pitlick (PHI) - 1 Goal
OTT - 11/16 @ BUF (9-6-3, OTL1)
PHI - 11/16 vs. NYI (13-3-1, W2 - oh boy, another back-to-back!)
Advanced Stats from Naturalstattrick.com
Thumbnail Photo: Adrian Wyld, AP