Sticking it to Boston: Thoughts on Flyers 6, Bruins 5 (Shootout)

Photo credit: © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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The Flyers are as perplexing of a team as ever. After getting embarrassed on a 1-4-1 west coast swing where the team at times appeared mentally checked out, dazed, and confused, they’ve somehow managed to put together a string of decent results at home.

Has it been the best looking hockey? No. Has the team played a consistent brand of hockey over the last three games? No. If I had told you a week ago that the Flyers would go 2-1-0 against three of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, would you have cared about how they got four-of-six points? Probably not. That was my line of thinking, at least, when Anthony and I debated the team’s play over the past few weeks on Snow The Goalie. The Flyers capped off a three-game homestand with one of the more impressive comebacks in recent years, getting key contributions from a number of players who needed a big game.

A Fateful Choice

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy opted to start netminder Jaroslav Halak in favor of Tuukka Rask in Monday night’s game. Who could blame him? The Bruins have opted to alternate starts between Rask and Halak going back to the end of November. They have the second-most points in the NHL with 66 and they’re clearly trying to keep both goalies fresh. While Rask sports a 14-2-4 career record with a .930 SV% and 2.03 GAA, Halak was no slouch. Even after his debacle on Monday night, his career 10-6-3 record with a .914 SV% and 2.47 GAA aren’t terrible by any means. But the debacle ended up being a major story in this one.

A Bad Start

The Flyers got absolutely throttled for the majority of the first period. Just 4:15 into the game, Boston worked a greasy, gritty goal with Anders Bjork blowing by a desperate Phil Myers, who did his best to stick check Bjork, but it was all for naught, as the Bruins winger beat Carter Hart on the backhand.

With just 3:13 remaining in the first period and Boston on the power play, the Bruins worked a beautiful team goal finished by David Krejci. Just like that it felt like all hope was lost and the Flyers were about to get their doors blown off.

Another Late Goal

In what’s become a bit of a new norm for the Alain Vigneault-led team, the Flyers picked up another goal late in a period. After Bruins center Patrice Bergeron was sent to the box for four minutes for a high stick, everyone’s favorite former ref Kevin Hayes cut the deficit in half:

Boston Gets It Right Back

With momentum on their side going into the locker room, it stood to reason that the Flyers would come out with a renewed sense of purpose to tie the game early in the second. Just 33 seconds into the period, Brad Marchand found David Pastrnak, who beat Carter Hart five-hole to extend the lead to two.

The Sanheim Steamroller Responds

During the first intermission edition of The Press Row Show, Anthony and I touched on a topic we discussed on the radio, namely the apparent regression of defenseman Travis Sanheim. For a guy who was arguably the team’s best and most consistent defenseman a season ago, Sanheim has found himself in the midst of an up-and-down season that included a number of unfortunate slips on the ice, but also moments like this with 1:10 gone in the second period:

Boston Returns Fire

With just over fifteen minutes remaining in the second period, the Bruins got their lead back up to two goals when Charlie Coyle beat Carter Hart high on his glove side. Less than three minutes late, the Bruins struck again when David Krejci netted his second of the evening.

Jekyll, Meet Hyde

The Flyers went on a tear in the remaining twelve minutes that make you wonder where this offense was when they were shut out by the Lightning on Saturday. They peppered Halak with fifteen shots in the period, dominated the 5v5 Corsi For % battle (71.43%), Fenwick For % (72.73%), and had five High-Danger Chances For to Boston’s three. The tide was turning and with thirteen minutes gone in the second period, Sean Couturier began the comeback:

Look, you expect Sean Couturier’s line to produce points. Every player I’ve spoken with over the past two seasons I’ve been around the team has talked at length about how much better Coots makes his linemates.

What you don’t necessarily expect is a goal from your fourth line of Joel Farabee, Connor Bunnaman, and Nic Aube-Kubel:

The goal was Bunnaman’s first in the NHL and a really meaningful one, as he had just been called up from the Phantoms:

Also of note on that play was the assist credited to defenseman Mark Friedman, his first in the NHL. As an aside, it’s worth noting how cool, calm, and collected Friedman has looked since getting the call-up with Shayne Gostisbehere out for a few weeks with a knee injury. Could Friedman’s solid play give Chuck Fletcher the justification he needs to move one of his more expensive defenseman in a cap-clearing move before the deadline? That remains to be seen.

Sanheim’s Redemption Tour

With just over seven minutes remaining in regulation, Travis Sanheim made a great play in his defensive end, worked a true 200ft. play, and his persistence paid off with a game-tying goal, his second of the night.

Hey Now, You’re an All-Star

After an absolutely nail-biting overtime, the teams went to a shootout, where the Flyers’ lone all-star Travis Konecny finished off what went on to be the leading and eventually game-winning shootout goal:

Price is Right Fail Horn

I mentioned Konecny’s goal was initially the leading goal as Alain Vigneault opted to have his team shoot first. The Bruins sent Brad Marchand up to tie the shootout and he committed one of the biggest gaffes in the history of the shootout:

It was a gutsy effort by the Flyers, who might’ve gotten a bit lucky to take on a Jaroslav Halak who just didn’t look like the player we’ve grown accustomed to watching. That said, he did force overtime with an exceptional last-second save on defenseman Ivan Provorov, only to then go on to have a potential Save of the Year candidate in the shootout:

https://twitter.com/HeresYourReplay/status/1216915849505918976?s=20

The Flyers are back at it Wednesday night in St. Louis as they take on the defending Stanley Cup Champion Blues, before returning home for games on Thursday and Saturday against the Canadiens and Kings, respectively.

GM Update to Come Tuesday

Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher will meet with the media Tuesday morning and is expected to give an update on Nolan Patrick. In talking to a few people around the team, I don’t expect it to be a positive update, though no one was 100% sure. If you recall, prior to the season getting underway, I mentioned that there was a chance that Nolan Patrick’s migraine disorder could prevent him from taking the ice in a meaningful capacity this season. While he’s been working with skills coach Angelo Ricci, there hasn’t been much in the way of a meaningful update on Patrick returning to full-team practice or contact drills. I do wonder if he’s looking at the time that he’s missed, the time it would take to get up to NHL conditioning, all while hoping to avoid a relapse or setback, and wonders whether it’s even worth trying to get back for the end of the season. There have been rumblings over the past year or so from within the organization about Patrick’s desire or lack thereof to be great.

For more Flyers coverage, follow Snow The Goalie on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Also be sure to tune into The Press Row Show as Anthony SanFilippo and Russ Joy provide pregame and intermission coverage of every Flyers home game from press row of the Wells Fargo Center via the Crossing Broad Facebook page, YouTube Live, and Twitter, and their Twitter accounts   

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5 Responses

  1. Just checked the standings. We are clinging to the final wild card spot. this team sucks, so do the sixers, triple that for the eagles and drop an elbow on the phillies stink fest

  2. This team is the definition of average.

    They’ll play up to Boston, but wait until Saturday because I almost guarantee they’ll 💩 the bed against the LA Kings.

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