Flyers v. Sabres Part 2: Electric Moose-aloo

Photo credit: © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Flyers were shellacked on Monday night in their first of a back-to-back against the Buffalo Sabres. The 6-1 drubbing was something they didn’t see coming after winning their first two games of the season against the Penguins. They needed a big bounce back effort on Tuesday night and that’s exactly what they got. With backup netminder Brian Elliott leading the way, the team’s defensive mindset was on display early, the team broke through, and despite being outshot for the fourth time in four games, the Flyers prevailed.

Let’s get into what went down and how the Flyers were able to take home two points.

Early PK Leads the Way

The Flyers began the game with a whole host of new lines and defensive pairings with #1 defenseman Ivan Provorov teamed with Travis Sanheim on the team’s top defensive pairing. The change was a clear response to Provorov-Braun pairing’s difficulty of getting out of their own zone and through the neutral zone. Justin Braun ended up with Phil Myers while Robert Hägg spent time with Erik Gustafsson. The latter two pairs mixed and matched throughout the first period. However, the new combos weren’t what stood out the most early in this one. With less than three minutes of game time elapsed, Robert Hägg got called for interference, then just 61 seconds later, Michael Raffl joined Hägg in the box for high sticking. To their credit, the Flyers PK units held down the fort in front of Brian Elliott. Head coach Alain Vigneault lauded the kill early in the game as being a moment that set the tone in this one:

It was huge. We used two duos of Ds. We used Kevin Hayes. We used Scotty Laughton. I thought those guys did a real good job for us as far as playing the structure that you need five versus three. It was in my mind that if they get a goal there, they build a little extra confidence that they got from us last night. By us killing that, I thought it gave us good energy. After that, I thought we played real strong.

MOOOOOSE

The Moose was loose early on. After withstanding an early 5-on-3 without conceding a goal, Brian Elliott did what he tends to do: make important saves when the team needs him the most.

Elliott finished the first period stopping all 11 shots he faced. He was even more impressive in the second period, holding Buffalo scoreless on their 13 attempts in the period. He raised the bar again in the third period, stopping all 16 shots he faced.

Elliot’s 40 saves mark the most he’s had in a shutout in his career. That’s no small feat, Tuesday night’s game marked the 41st time he’s held the opposition scoreless in his NHL career. Per the Flyers, Elliot became just the sixth goaltender in franchise history to rack up 40+ saves in a shutout:

Flyers shutouts

TK Keeps Scoring

Travis Konecny clearly wants to put the Toronto bubble far in his rearview mirror. He entered play Tuesday night tied for second in the NHL in points after picking up an assist in the Flyers’ first game of the season, and netting his first hat trick in the NHL in Philadelphia’s second game against the Penguins to go along with an assist.

With Philadelphia and Buffalo locked in a defensive battle, Nolan Patrick found Oskar Lindblom up the boards. Lindblom delivered a cross-ice pass that caromed off the near wall onto the stick of Konecny, who did the rest:

This team is at its best when they’ve got some swagger. As we learned a year ago on the podcast, Konecny and Scott Laughton give one another the credit for being the team’s best chirper. With Konecny delivering on his line and Laughton contributing two much-needed points this season on the fourth line, the Orange & Black have their swagger back.

Lindblom-Patrick-Konecny Line

Of all the shuffled lines to come about after Morgan Frost left the game with an injury, the Oskar Lindblom-Nolan Patrick-Travis Konecny line was the most intriguing. Sure, there’s the stories of perseverance -Lindblom’s triumph over cancer and Patrick’s battle with a migraine disorder- but when these three took the ice together, there was something electric about their 200ft. game.

I asked Lindblom about how exciting the trio could be for this team longterm since they’ve found success at such an early age:

This sounds like the perfect embodiment of what Alain Vigneault wants. Two-way players who aren’t afraid to give up the body while helping their team along the margins. We’ll see if he rolls this line out again later this week.

No Laughing Matter

A couple of games after calling the Inquirer’s Mike Sielski a weasel, Jakub Voracek found the back of the net for the first time this season on a cross-ice feed from Kevin Hayes:

Let’s give some credit where it’s due on the play. Erik Gustafsson, who has been dragged on Twitter since the shine of his two PP assist performance in the first game of the season wore out almost as quickly as it came into existence.

The other player mentioned in the piece that had Voracek stewing a year after its publication had himself quite a game as well:

My pal and co-host Anthony SanFilippo, who’s on the long road to recovery from his COVID-19 diagnosis, often talks about reading between the lines on what a coach says, and more importantly doesn’t say. In this case, Vigneault going out of his way to laud van Riemsdyk’s contributions was something we didn’t see a season ago. The fact that he noted his coaching staff has taken notice is about as effusive as he’ll get praising one of his vets.

Losing Myers

Phil Myers was the odds-on favorite ahead of training camp to start the season on the Flyers’ top defensive pairing with Ivan Provorov. Then camp happened and it appeared Shayne Gostisbehere, who served as Provorov’s partner a couple of years ago, would get first crack at the honors. At the time Alain Vigneault said that the abbreviated camp caused him to give a look at lineup decisions based on prior chemistry.

Chemistry is exactly what Phil Myers and Travis Sanheim have shown since their time playing together with the Phantoms. As Sanheim told us last week on Snow The Goalie, that chemistry extends off the ice as the two are friends away from the rink.

The pairing had some up-and-down moments through the first three games of  the season, but that all came to a screeching halt in the first period when Myers took this hit from Jake McCabe:

He did not return. The hope is that take a couple of weeks to heal, but if he’s unable to play against Boston on Thursday, Mark Friedman could get a look.

Frost Out

As if losing Phil Myers wasn’t bad enough, the Flyers suffered a major injury in the second period as Morgan Frost took a big hit behind the Buffalo goal:

Head coach Alain Vigneault has shown faith in the young center, first pairing him with Oskar Lindblom and Travis Konecny in Monday night’s contest, then with veterans Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk on Tuesday night. Vigneault’s intention was to put the 21-year-old in advantageous positions and maximize his offensive output, but that plan was put on hold for the rest of the game.

No Call

Given the constant blowing of whistles in this game, it was shocking to see this sequence result in no call:

Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger believed Provorov tried to intentionally injure Carter Hutton, because it makes no sense at all:

In four games, it’s the third hit to the head, a violent type. If you look at the way the elbow comes extended, you know what you’re doing…

At some point, the notion of checking an opponent into your goalie then attacking the player you checked into your own goalie has to change. The fact that Krueger came out with this kind of nonsense is embarrassing. I know there’s disappointment in losing your starting goalie, but watch that back in real time. Where’s the qualm?

Next Up

The Flyers will play the Bruins in Boston on Thursday and Saturday. The status of Phil Myers and Morgan Frost should be updated on Wednesday following MRIs to determine the severity of their injuries.

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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