FFR2 Gm 26: DET 1, PHI 6 - Black Flyersday
Special discount on goals for a limited time only! Score one, get five free!
Man, Detroit is bad. But the Flyers (and Thanksgiving break) are good! The Philadelphia Flyers WIN their third straight game and fourth of their last five, pulling away from the Detroit Red Wings with five unanswered goals over the final 41 minutes of play en route to a 6-1 demolition of Detroit.
On paper, the Red Wings are one of the worst teams in the NHL even when fully healthy, and they came into Philadelphia without one of their best players in Anthony Mantha and starting their 3rd string goalie... Cal Pickard? I thought he was left for dead in a dark alley in Toronto after Andreas Johnsson stuffed the Grand Canyon between his legs three times in 10 minutes, but you do you, Red Wings.
However, Detroit didn't look bad on the ice in the early going. In fact, the Flyers got off to a very sloppy start, allowing 11 of the first 13 shots on goal. One of the two non-Detroit shots came when Matt Niskanen took the rebound off a great save by Carter Hart and whipped it right up the middle of the ice. Suddenly, Scott was sprung, and Laughts put it - pretend to be shocked - 5-hole on Pickard (wonder how he knew that would work?) for the game's first goal. Maybe it was the good deke or that glaring weakness that willed the puck in, but I think we all know the real reason for this goal.
Good luck sleeping tonight.
After some well-designed plays and good scoring chances from the Wings, Detroit tied the game, ironically on a broken play. Travis Sanheim played textbook one-on-one defense to contain the speedy Andreas Athanasiou, deflecting his backdoor pass... right into the slot, where Robby Fabbri blasted it past Hart to tie the game.
Thankfully, that goal woke the Flyers up, evening the shot clock at seven the rest of the way. However, the Red Wings should've taken the lead on a power play moments after the Fabbri goal, when Fabbri himself rifled a perfect cross-ice past to Filip Zadina. He stepped into a one-timer that was labeled for the top corner until Carter Hart lunged across like that one uncle who goes too hard at your family's Thanksgiving flag football game, recording the best of his (at least) half-dozen great saves in this game.
Late in the first period, the Flyers took the lead for good on a power play of their own. A Sean Couturier shot created chaos in front of Pickard, which ended when a backhand pass/shot/prayer caromed off Filip Hronek, turning Shayne Gostisbehere's dramatic return to the lineup an amazing one! It was the most notable example of what was a great game for Ghost, who looked like his old dynamic self on countless occasions Friday, and it gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead.
Philadelphia took control of play in the second period. Yes, the Red Wings still generated some great chances - Hart absolutely robbed Tyler Bertuzzi with a great glove save from the slot. But the Flyers 67.86% Corsi and 86.14% xGF (!!) made it clear they were the better team. To his credit, Pickard came up with some big saves, robbing Morgan Frost on a hat-trick of chances late in the period. But the Flyers dealt a gut-punch with just 12 seconds left in the frame when Couturier darted to the net uncovered and buried his own rebound after Pickard stopped his initial tip.
The third began with Kevin Hayes directing in a sweet saucer pass from Laughton and a Lindblom jam play that hit about eight different sticks before barely crossing the goal-line within the first minute of play.
James van Riemsdyk, the guy who's only supposed to be scoring on the power play right now (he missed a tap-in there in the 2nd period) completed the ultimate slump-buster game with a rebound goal in the closing minutes set up by Pitlick. Detroit hardly tested Hart, who is now 4-0-0 with a .931 save percentage against them in his career, in the 3rd, allowing the Flyers to cruise to victory. Granted, that was expected considering their opponent, but with the way these games have gone in the past and the way the first 10 minutes played out, the Flyers deserve some credit for ending this game with a dominant victory.
One that wouldn't have happened if I wasn't in attendance. Seriously, they need to start inviting me to more games. I'm a solid 10-6-3 all-time in person. Let me take this team to the promised land already!
The Flyers extended their point streak at home to ten straight games (6-0-4), their longest streak since a 10-0-0 stretch from November 9, 2013 to January 8, 2014.
Per Jordan Hall, this is the first time since 2003-04 (when ties were still a thing) the Flyers will begin December with one regulation loss at home.
In order to get Shayne Gostisbehere back in the lineup, Phil Myers sat in the press box Saturday night. It's a bit of a curious decision, but there is some logic behind him. Robert Hagg had a solid game against Columbus, and Myers is dead last in Corsi For% and Expected Goals For% among Flyers defenseman. Giving Myers a day off isn't the end of the world, and with Hagg struggling Friday, I'd expect Phil to jump back in against Montreal.
A whopping twelve of the Flyers eighteen skaters registered at least one point Friday.
Fabbri's tally is the only goal the Red Wings, now losers of six straight, have scored in their last 168 minutes and 28 seconds of play. They've also trailed after 40 minutes in 17 of their 28 games, or 60.7% of their season. Yikes.
Carter Hart is the fifth different goalie that has started the Flyers annual Black Friday game in the last five years. He joins an *illustrious* list alongside today's opponent Cal Pickard (2018, where he had a SHUTOUT against the Rangers - seriously, they couldn't score on him), Brian Elliott (2017), Steve Mason (2016), and Michal Neuvirth (2015).
For the first time since 2012, the Flyers occupied a playoff spot on Thanksgiving. That's more than just something to be thankful for; 77% (or 74/96) of the teams in a playoff spot on Thanksgiving end the season in one since 2014. The Flyers have been able to make that uphill climb three times since then and now, but it should be SO much easier to make a playoff push this year. That's especially true considering they were last in the Metro on Turkey Day in 2017 (8-9-5) and 2018 (9-10-2).
POG Standings Update!
Raff, Steady Eddie Nisky - 2
TK, Starter, Ells, JVR, Lindy, Coots, Phil, Frosty, Jake, Pitlick - 1
If you're wondering why Niskanen looks like that, it's because he took a shot to the face in the 1st period. He returned to the game with a full cage on his helmet at the start of the 2nd, and ended the night with a gutsy two assists and 2:47 PK time (only Voracek had more of the former and Provorov more of the latter).
1st - Shayne Gostisbehere (PHI) - 1 PP Goal
2nd - Carter Hart (PHI) - .970 SV% (32/33), 1 GA on 1.77 xGA
3rd - Scott Laughton (PHI) - 1 Goal, 1 Assist
DET - Sim to Offseason
PHI - 11/30 @ MTL (11-9-5, L3)
Advanced Stats from Naturalstattrick.com
Thumbnail Photo: Yong Kim (Philadelphia Inquirer)