Setting Records: Five Takeaways from the Flyers’ 5-1 Win

Photo credit: © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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At some point during Tuesday night’s game, I saw someone on Twitter throw out a very simple question: When’s the last time both “winter” teams in Philadelphia were good at the same time? It’s a legitimately good question. Sure, there have been limited spurts of success from the Orange and Black over the past few years, but never a true, believable sustained success. I guess you could point to the 2017-18 season -the last playoff appearance for this squad in a seven-year stretch of alternating playoff seasons and missed opportunities- as a “success” of sorts, but did anyone really, truly believe that squad had what it takes to get out of the first round? Perhaps the 2013-14 season that ended in a Game 7 loss to the Rangers is more your speed? No, I think you have to go way back to the three-season stretch from 2009-2012, when getting out of the first round was more of a foregone conclusion. Which brings me to a moment I’ve long-feared putting into the public sphere for fear of a karmic debacle: this is the best Flyers team in nearly a decade and it isn’t particularly close.

The Flyers, who find themselves in third place in the Metropolitan Division, have the eighth-best record in the entire league. Pittsburgh and Washington, who reside above the Flyers in the Met, have the third- and fourth-best records in the league, respectively. The Islanders, Hurricanes, and Blue Jackets -who all trail the three aforementioned teams for a guaranteed playoff spot- have the ninth-, tenth-, and eleventh-best records in the entire NHL. That’s insane. It’s also part of the problem with dropping points within your division, as the Flyers did to the dreadful Devils on February 6 and the Islanders on February 11, has an even more damaging impact than in years past.

It’s why getting a dominant win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night was about as close to a “must win” as you’re going to get. Let’s get into five takeaways from the decisive victory:

Puck Luck

You hear it in sports all the time: good teams get good bounces. For the Flyers on Tuesday night, that was never more apparent. They picked up two goals in the first four and a half minutes on what could’ve just as easily been smothered efforts. First, Kevin Hayes got in on the action:

It’s a great example of constant movement and solid play along the boards, starting with the inherent gravity that Travis Konecny’s All-Star season has brought out. Joe Farabee picks up the puck, changes directions, makes a confident pass, and Kevin Hayes bangs it in from a tough angle off a deflection.

Just a minute of game time later, Sean Couturier was set free on a breakaway and potted a nifty goal five-hole to put his team out to a 2-0 lead.

For what it’s worth, Couturier was asked after the game if he intended on having the puck trickle through so softly or if he mishandled it. After a hearty chuckle, he looked at the reporter and asked, “What do you think?”

Per the Flyers, Tuesday night’s game:

Marked the first time in franchise history that the Flyers have scored five goals on 15 or fewer shots. The closest such occasion was on Dec. 21, 1996 when they scored four goals on 15 shots in a 4-0 win over the St. Louis Blues.

The game was just the 20th in franchise history where the Flyers had 15 or fewer shots, and was just the sixth time they’ve won under that circumstance. The last time they both had fewer than 15 shots in a game and won with that sum was February 1, 2014 when they had a franchise-record-tying-low 13 shots in a 2-0 win at Los Angeles.

Excellent Defensemen

There are so many ways to go with this. We could talk about the bounce-back season of Ivan Provorov, who has rebounded from a roller coaster 2018-19 with the form of the guy we were all so enthralled with watching in 2017-18.

Sure, this goal didn’t count, but it spoke to the Herculean effort that Provorov brings game in and game out. After taking a nasty shot earlier in the period, the man they call Provy didn’t miss a shift. Was there goaltender interference from Joel Farabee? Technically, he entered the crease and there might’ve been some contact, but there’s zero chance Elvis was getting to that puck.

Let’s instead focus on Alain Vigneault’s second pairing of Travis Sanheim and Phil Myers. If you watch AV’s reaction to questions about the giant, skilled defensemen in his post-game press conference, you’ll see a man who lights up and is utterly tantalized by the unlimited ceiling of the pairing.

Find me two young defensemen of their stature and skill you’re more excited with in the entire league. I’ll wait. There are so many reasons Vigneault is willing to ride with these guys through the growing pains of learning at the NHL level, something Anthony broke down eloquently today.

A Breakout Season

I mentioned before that there’s a certain “gravity” that Travis Konecny now attracts on the ice. He’s clearly one of the guys opposing coaching staffs are preparing for. Even still, he’s been absolutely lethal from all over the ice, including in highly congested spots on the ice:

With three points on the night, Konecny is up to 51 points on the season, eclipsing his previous career high of 49 from a season ago with 22 games left to play. He’s been a godsend to a team that’s been in need of young scoring help. Plus, he’s a great guy in the locker room, as you can see in the interview he did with me and Anthony for Snow The Goalie.

O Captain! My Captain!

It would appear the reports of Claude Giroux’s demise were premature. The captain’s been leading by example and has 11 points (3 goals, 8 assists) in his last six games, including this gorgeous play from his knees:

Has it been all rainbows and smiles for the Hearst, Ontario native who posted a ridiculous 102 points just a couple of seasons ago? No. But, if you watch the game, if you truly watch his impact, he’s allowed his line mates to take the spotlight and finish off some excellent opportunities. Those people screaming that Giroux is “taking valuable minutes” from young players? Fill them in.

Also, Claude Giroux’s assist put him into sole possession of first place on the Flyers’ all-time power play assists list:

Analytics

Certain advanced metrics can help to explain the underlying reasons a team has been successful or struggling. They can be massively beneficial as a supplemental tool. I’ll let NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Colby Cohen explain:

That said, I look at a stat like xG, which I hate in hockey and I hate in soccer, and I realize… it’s a shame the Flyers won the game, but lost the xG battle 1.84-1.1… Does that affect the standings?

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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25 Responses

    1. Sorry I needed to take a day off after that insane moonsault I did onto Wardlow last night on Dynamite. On top of that, Brandi rode me like a dog faced pony soldier.

  1. so, we will just have to come up with our own content
    Top five worst Phila talk show hosts:

    1) Howard Eskin
    2) Angelo Cataldi
    3) Mike Missanelli
    4) Jason Myrtetus
    5) any ex Eagles lineman
    4)

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