FFR2 Gm 53: PHI 3, DET 0 - Laughts of Love
*Whips off sunglasses*
Looks like Valentine's Day came early this year, boys!
The Philadelphia Flyers WIN, shutout style, 3-0 over the Detroit Red Wings, who have lost nine straight. Brian Elliott stopped sixteen shots, Tyler Pitlick stopped one, and the Flyers offense broke through when they needed to the most to avoid a letdown performance against the worst team in the NHL.
Most seasons, there's at least a debate as to which team is truly the worst, but this year, there's no contest. The Red Wings are 17 points behind New Jersey (the Flyers next opponent) for second-last in the Eastern Conference. For context, that's almost as big as the gap between New Jersey and the Flyers and Blue Jackets, who hold the first wild card and third spot in the Metro, respectively. Add in that two of their best scorers (Mantha, Zadina) and one of their best defensemen (yes, Danny DeKeyser is actually one of their best defensemen) were hurt, and this was a game the Flyers never should have lost.
The numbers will tell you that they were never close to losing it either. Despite coming out of the first period with the score 0-0, the Flyers dominated the opening twenty minutes, putting up a 78.57% Corsi and generating 79.33% of the Expected Goals at 5-on-5. Overall, the Flyers were expected to outscore Detroit 3.01-1.42 on the night at all situations.
But the game wasn't quite as one-sided as you might thing. The Red Wings chose quality over quantity when it came to chances, testing Brian Elliott on multiple occasions, only for Moose to stand tall each time. Whether it was Darren Helm on a short-handed breakaway or Tyler Bertuzzi going through the legs or (in the 3rd) Filip Hronek blasting a one-timer from the Ovechkin spot, Elliott was lights all night long.
Maybe last season, one of those chances would have gone in and snowballed. But Elliott has been better, and more importantly, much healthier (cross your fingers and knock on wood NOW), and it showed tonight. It goes back to that whole "different feeling" vibe we've talked about so many times this season. I don't know if actually makes an impact, but even though Jonathan Bernier had a pretty good night, there wasn't much doubt in my mind the Flyers would eventually break through. Sure enough, Scott Laughton found twine, courtesy of a slick-pass from Michael Raffl and a wise pinch from Robert Hagg, giving the Flyers a lead they would not lose.
Any doubt that the Flyers would disappoint mostly faded away early in the 3rd. Less than a minute after Elliott's aforementioned save on Hronek, the long arm of the law that is the stick of Kevin Hayes struck yet again. Hayes broke up a pass to the point to set himself up for ANOTHER short-handed breakaway goal, his fourth shortie of the season and second in as many games. Moments later, the Wings finally got Elliott down and out of the net, only for Tyler Pitlick to make a stick save in front of the empty net.
Bernier made some of his best saves down the stretch, robbing Justin Braun on a 2-on-1 and a breakaway bid from Travis Konecny. Ultimately, Matt Niskanen would put the icing on the cake with the Flyers second shortie of the night, a long-range bomb into an empty Red Wings net. Presented with an opportunity for two easy points and a golden chance to move up in the standings, the Flyers did not disappoint. Whether you're more ho-hum or "high-five!" after this victory, that in itself is another something to celebrate.
Injury update: Shayne Gostisbehere did not play Monday, but AV said he should be ready for Thursday's game. Carter Hart practiced with the team Monday; his exact date for return remains undecided.
Monday night was the first time the Flyers scored multiple short-handed goals in a game since November 13, 2008, when the Flyers scored a pair of shorties in Pittsburgh.
Kevin Hayes is the first Flyer since Matt Read on March 15-16, 2014 (both games against the Penguins) to score short-handed in consecutive games. The Wings have also now allowed 11 short-handed goals this year, the most in the league.
Scott Laughton now has a goal in three straight games, the longest streak of his NHL career. Kevin Hayes is also riding a three-game point streak of his own (three goals, two assists).
The Flyers now have an 11-game point streak (9-0-2) against Detroit dating back to the beginning of the 2016-17 season. Per NHL PR, Pittsburgh holds the League’s longest active point streak against one franchise with a 19-game run against Edmonton (PIT: 15-0-4 dating to Dec. 5, 2007). If the Oilers can put that to a halt and the Flyers maintain form, we can pass them in 2021-22!
There are so many depressing stats you could look at for the 2019-20 Detroit Red Wings, but I may have found the worst. They don't have a point against the entire Metropolitan Division this year. In fifteen games, the Red Wings are a mind-numbingly awful 0-14-1.
With two goals in the final twenty minutes Monday, the Flyers surpassed Washington for the best third period goal differential in the NHL (+22).
Congratulations to former Flyer Valtteri Filppula on recently playing in his 1000th NHL game (101 of which came with the Flyers). Filppula was honored for his accomplishment pre-game.
While it's been the first period that has troubled the Flyers most of the season, the Orange and Black have been improving that weakness. Even though it took them until the 2nd to light the lamp in Detroit, the Flyers now have the first goal in each of their last six games.
Congratulations to Brian Elliott on his 40th career shutout! It was also his second against the Wings. Not bad for a 9th round pick, huh?
POG Helmet Standings Update!
Moose - 4
Raff, Da Snake, Gobs - 3
Steady Eddie, Teeks, Coots, Laughts (Last Win: 12/7) - 2
Starter, #OskarStrong, Phil, Snowman, Pitsy, Timon, Hollywood, Lyon King - 1
A lot has been made of the Flyers poor road record; at 11-13-3, they are only 21st in the league. But things look a little more promising if you dig deeper. On road trips of three games or more, the Flyers have a total record of 2-11-2. Pretty bad, right? But the Flyers only have one more road trip of three games or more left in the regular season (exactly three games, in fact). In road trips of one or two games, the Flyers are actually a very strong 9-2-1. If the latter team is the one that shows up away from the WFC, the Flyers can start to think about taking that next step.
1st - Brian Elliott (PHI) - 2nd Shutout of Season (1.42 xGA)
2nd - Scott Laughton (PHI) - Game-Winning Goal (9)
3rd - Jonathan Bernier (DET) - .933 SV% (29/31), 2 GA on 3.01 xGA
PHI - 2/6 vs. NJ (18-24-9, OTL2)
DET - Someone Better Than Them (So Maybe Your Beer League Team?)