FFR2 Gm 42: PHI 2, ARI 6 - Coyouch
Just read the Vegas recap and ignore the comeback part, you'll thank me later.
The second half of the Flyers season starts a lot like how the first one ended. They were blown out of the water in the 1st period and never recovered, falling 6-2 to the Arizona Coyotes. The Flyers have fallen to 1-4-0 in this nightmare post-Christmas road trip that is starting to torpedo their season.
This defeat was almost exactly the same as the other three before it. The Flyers lost this game between the pipes and on special teams. Carter Hart was brutal, giving up a terrible goal on a pass from barely inside the blue-line that took a funny bounce off the ice and leaked through him. It sent the whole night snowballing out of control, as a point shot moments later deflected off Matt Niskanen and in. The PK bent again, allowing Clayton Keller to make it 3-0, sending Hart to the showers. The power play was ineffective all night long, going 0-4 and allowing a short-handed empty net goal.
The Flyers have always struggled on the late-December/early-January road trip, going back a few years now. But I can't remember any stretch over the last few seasons that's been as futile as this. The effort has been there for the most part - it's been hard to knock the Flyers compete level, and they've tried to make late game pushes. They did score two third period goals Saturday night, with Tyler Pitlick and Justin Braun beating Adin Hill on shots you wouldn't expect to go in.
It's been a lack of execution, combined with the growing feeling that every bounce is destined not to go their way, that have the Flyers reeling. Alain Vigneault basically said the same thing postgame. It's natural for teams to struggle on the road, but not to the extent the Flyers have this season. It's Murphy's Law - anything that can go wrong, will go wrong - at its finest. When the Flyers finish their road trip Tuesday night, they very likely could begin the night outside of the playoff picture for the first time since October.
And they need to fix it to avoid having their season fall into the gutter, yeah you know the drill at this point. There's only so many ways to say the same thing, and we didn't really learn anything new Saturday night. People often say watching blowout games (or even sports is in general). That's usually not true. Nothing is a waste of time if you learn something from it. This was the rare game where nothing new was found. It was just take the same piece of crap that has been trotted out the last two games and watch it fall on its face again.
I predicted the Flyers would win this game. It was half just pure hope, half the belief that sports are random and fun and stupid and that would somehow combine to give the Flyers what would've been an unlikely win. I don't think there going to win Tuesday against Carolina, because the Canes are good and the Flyers will still be on the road and their confidence has been shot. I don't even think they'll win Wednesday, because the Caps are great and the Flyers will be on the second half of a back-to-back and if they lose on Tuesday, their confidence will still be shot.
But I'm not going to worry about what will happen if they come up short in the future. I hope that I'm wrong again, but the Flyers can only keep repeating themselves so many times before I stop expecting a different result. The Flyers probably weren't as bad as you thought against the Yotes, but there's no doubt that they need to be better. And at some point they will be. The question is just how good this team can be, and whether they can return to their winning ways while it still matters. Their season isn't in danger. But it always gets late quick, and as the Coyotes can tell you from last season, once you fall out of the playoff picture, it's hard to get back in.
The penalty kill was a little bit better tonight. They still allowed a goal, but they ended a streak of four straight opportunities allowing a goal. That being said, failed clears, both on the PK and at 5-on-5, were a recurring problem for Philly all night long.
Jordan Osterle scored the second goal of the game for the Coyotes and his first of the season. Why? Because he's playing against the Flyers, you silly goose! What else did you expect?
If you're looking for a positive, or perhaps a laugh, Justin Braun's goal, his second as a Flyer, was his 10th point of the season. P.K. Subban has 9.
Two particularly frustrating moments: Jake Voracek is always going to be a pass-first player, and I have no problem that. But he passed up a point-blank shooting chance all alone for a pass that wasn't even close to being there. He's been on fire lately, but that was an ugly play.
The other was Ivan Provorov backing away from a loose puck at the Coyotes line that he easily could've gotten to with 7 seconds left in the 2nd. That allowed the Coyotes to come back down the ice, where Lawson Crouse shelfed a backhander with 1 tick left. There's all that time spent playing with AMac rubbing off on him.
Shootout to the several Coyotes players who donned Oskar Strong t-shirts during today's game. This picture of them was shown on the scoreboard during the game. Per Sam Carchidi of the Inquirer, Lindy has begun treatment at the University of Penn. Further proof that the hockey world has Oskar Lindblom's back, no matter what. #OskarStrong
1st - Clayton Keller (ARI) - 2 Goals (11,12), GWG
2nd - Lawson Crouse (ARI) - Goal (9)
3rd - Nick Schmaltz (ARI) - 2 Assists (27,28)
PHI - The sweet, merciful end of this road trip: 1/7 @ CAR
ARI - 1/7 @ FLA (21-14-5, L1)