FFR2 Gm 57: PHI 3, NYI 5 - Pulverized
Get up off the floor, wipe away the tears, and go win the next one.
There's nothing else you can do about it now.
They say what doesn't kills you makes you stronger. Good. Because the Philadelphia Flyers came about as close to killing the joy of their fans in one fell swoop, losing in gut-wrenching, tragic fashion, 5-3, to the New York Islanders. But I do believe they'll be stronger because of it.
Do I wish the Flyers had won this game, or at least gotten a point out of it? Absolutely! This type of loss has happened so many times over the last few years, and yet it never becomes any easier to handle. I first started watching Flyers hockey in the 2014-15 season, which historically is arguably the worst point in the Flyers 53-year history to become a fan, and I can think of at least a dozen games that ended with an amount of sadness that rivals tonight's levels. But there's no point in listing all of them out, as much as that might help me vent. After all, the past is in the past, and sometimes the best thing is really just to let it go.
Once again, the Flyers came out flat in the first period, and this time, it cost them enough goals that it looked like their slow start would be fatal. The Islanders, who were also on the second half of a back-to-back, lit the lamp three times in the opening stanza, using a combination of good luck, hard work, and straight up skill to run the show early on.
Then, as they so often do, the Flyers performed better as the game progressed. Travis Konecny and Robert Hagg both lit the lamp in the middle stages of the second period, cutting the lead to just one goal. But beating the Islanders a third time proved to be challenging. It makes sense - Seymon Varlamov is a good goaltender, and Barry Trotz has installed one of the best defensive systems in the NHL since coming to the Isles last season. You don't go from worst to first in goals against on pure luck and goaltending. The Islanders are a tough team to beat.
But the Flyers found a way to beat them. It wasn't on the power play, which came inches away from scoring on their second and final attempt of the night when TK redirected the puck off the post, then was unable to punch it over the goal-line. However, with less than 90 seconds to play, a fortuitous bounce off an Islanders' shin-pad caromed to Sean Couturier, and he stuffed the puck in to tie the game!
So what happened in overtime, you logically ask. After all, games tied that late almost always make it to overtime. Here's where the whole tragedy part comes in. The Flyers suddenly found themselves in first period mode again, hemmed into their own zone. Ryan Pulock found the puck at the right-point, used JVR as a screen, and blasted the puck past Brian Elliott, giving the Islanders the lead with less than 40 seconds left.
Heart. Break. City.
The Flyers were never able to get another shot on goal, and Leo Komarov potted the ENG in the dying seconds to secure the victory. The Flyers had to have left the ice absolutely stunned. A win would have vaulted them over the Isles AND Blue Jackets to third place in the Metropolitan Division. They fought valiantly down the stretch, made their own luck, and did enough right to earn a victory.
Sometimes, it just doesn't matter. After all, the Florida Panthers did enough to earn a victory last night. But for them, a combination of bad bounces and missing the net far too often was just a little too much to overcome. For the Flyers, just sub in a poor start and last-minute collapse; the product remains the same.
It absolutely stinks to lose a game that way, especially a game that important. We've all been there before, leaving the field with our heads hanging low, our legs feeling heavy, and our minds distraught with anguish. There isn't a lot you can do in the moment to make it feel any better. It doesn't matter what you've done before it that moment; losing in this fashion sucks the life out of you like few things can.
But what happens the next time you return to action? That despair and depression are in the rearview mirror, replaced with hope, excitement, and for a team as good as the Flyers, confidence that the previous defeat can be left in the past. Nights like these make it hard to believe in this team, but it's all of the nights of joy and celebration before it that allow us to keep our faith. This game was just another battle scar for us to have pride in when this team returns to their best. As Steve Dangle said, it's not a sign of defeat, it's a sign of survival.
There's nothing the Flyers can do to have this game back. It's over, finished, ended, done with. And that's exactly what it needs to be. In less than 48 hours, the Flyers will be back on the ice, facing the same Panthers team they beat on Monday with a chance to earn the two points they let slip away in Brooklyn. They will be back up for grabs, and I don't think it's a stretch to say the Flyers will be hungrier than ever to earn them.
This game dragged the Flyers and us fans through the bottom of hell. But that just makes it more likely they will carry us closer to heaven the next time they play. The sun will still rise tomorrow, no matter how much darkness you might feel right now. Everyone has heard the saying that the best athletes are the ones with the shortest memories. The Flyers will put this game behind them on Thursday, and I'm excited to watch them do just that.
For whatever reason, the Isles have given the Flyers fits this season. I dropped them fairly far on the power rankings over the last two months, but this is the first time I've seen them play a full game since November, and I must say, they remain a good team. They are the only team in the Metro the Flyers have not beaten yet (0-2-1).
New York's Leo Komarov recorded his 100th career NHL assist on Matt Martin's 2-0 goal, which saw two former Leafs hook up for a 2-on-1 goal with Scott Laughton the only Flyer back.
The Islanders have somehow managed to defy the fatigue and sloppiness that usually plagues teams on the second halves of back-to-backs. They are 6-1-1 in them this season and 17-2-2 since Barry Trotz took over.
Joel Farabee returned to the lineup Tuesday, with Morgan Frost sitting. I actually didn't have a problem with the move, considering how great the fourth line has been (and Tyler Pitlick's been solid on line 3). I hope Frost will find his way back into the lineup shortly - he's got skill that can help this team - but it was probably the right call this night.
You can now buy the orange version of the Oskar Strong t-shirts, the same ones the Flyers wear under their uniforms, on Biscuittees.com
Robert Hagg now has as many goals this season as Ben Simmons has threes in his NBA career. Good night everyone, and remember to trust the process.
1st - Mathew Barzal (NYI) - 3 Assists (28, 29, 30)
2nd - Ryan Pulock (NYI) - Game-Winning Goal (7)
3rd - Leo Komarov (NYI) - Goal (3), Assist (10)
PHI - 2/13 @ FLA (30-20-6, W1)
NYI - 2/13 @ NSH (26-22-7, L2)