Same Story, Different Day – Takeaways from Islanders 2, Flyers 1 (OT)

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Photo credit: © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

In what’s becoming a disappointing trend, the Flyers once again failed to put together a full 60 minutes and it cost them yet again on Monday night.

Over the last week and a half, the common line among those who follow and cover the team went something like this:

Man, if they can just get some decent goaltending and play a more sound defensive game and get more pucks on the net, they can turn this around.

On Monday night, the Orange & Black got the first and third, but the second point of emphasis failed them when it mattered the most against the New York Islanders.

Winning the Battle, Losing the War

After a string of seven games that saw the Flyers and their opponents combine for at least seven goals, Philadelphia played an overall better 200-foot game and generated plenty of scoring chances. In the game’s first period, Philadelphia outshot New York 12-4. They followed up a relatively dominant first period by putting 14 shots on goal, lighting the lamp once, to New York’s six shots. The third period saw the Flyers generate 11 shots to the Islanders’ nine.

While generating scoring opportunities is great, the shot selection at even strength in this one was not:

Courtesy: NaturalStatTrick.com

The absolute killer here is that when this team was rolling earlier this season, it came as a direct result of getting to the net, deflecting pucks, digging away, and making the opposing netminder’s life a living hell. Instead, the Flyers opted to take a high percentage of their shots from ~45-55 feet away from goal. Sure, there’s something to be said from getting shots on goal from all over the ice, but the disparity in the teams’ shot density in front of the net, and especially in the slot, is stark.

S-A-W-F-T Defensive Play

There’s only one way to describe the Flyers’ defensive play near their own net and, like Enzo and Big Cass, I’m gonna spell it out for ya: S-A-W-F-T. Brian Elliott was in the midst of a shutout performance until this happened with just over four minutes gone in the third period:

Jim Jackson asked on the telecast how the puck found the stick of Oliver Wahlstrom. It wasn’t so much because of what Wahlstrom did, rather what the defense – and to a lesser extent Elliott – failed to do. With the puck pinging around in front of the sprawling Elliott, neither Travis Sanheim nor Justin Braun could clear the puck. Elliott appeared to lose track of where the puck was all while Joel Farabee channeled his inner Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka.

Turnovers Are Killers

The Flyers played with fire throughout this game, making a number of lazy passes in their defensive zone. After blowing an opportunity to take the lead on a power play that lasted the final 1:49 of regulation and the first 11 seconds of overtime, it felt like the momentum had begun to shift. With 1:19 left in the extra session, this happened:

Conceptually, it wasn’t a terrible idea by Farabee as Gostisbehere checked back to provide support, but Anthony Beauvillier was able to pressure the pass, which got through Gostisbehere and onto the stick of Jean-Gabriel Pageau. JGP then found Beauvillier, who pulled off a textbook wraparound on Brian Elliott, who was able to get the blade of his skate on the puck, but it wasn’t enough.

This was far from the first defensive zone turnover, as Erik Gustafsson made a late gaffe during the power play at the end of regulation that nearly created an opportunity the other way. Fortunately for Gustafsson, the Flyers regained the puck, though the ensuing icing practically sealed the game’s overtime fate.

For a team that can’t seem to get out of their own way, turnovers are something you can get away with from time to time. Do it as frequently as the Flyers did on Monday night, and you’ll get burned.

Oskar Lindblom is Heating Up

If there’s a positive trend to note in the last three games for the wildly inconsistent Flyers, it’s the reemergence of Oskar Lindblom as a goal scoring threat. After tallying two goals in the Flyers’ 4-3 win in the first game of this mini-series, Lindblom was kept off the scoresheet in a 6-1 loss. To his credit, he did drop the gloves in that game, giving the team a bit of juice leading to a Farabee goal. Lindblom rebounded in a big way Monday night, finding the back of the net to break a 0-0 score with 7:57 remaining in the second period:

The goal marked Lindblom’s third in three games and fifth point in the month of March. After struggling since coming back from the NHL’s COVID Protocol list, the three-game set against the Islanders should at least temporarily sideline some of the concern surrounding his inability to make it onto the scoresheet. If you’re looking for someone who’s stepped up when his team has needed him, look no further than Lindblom. This is what true leadership looks like.

Next Up

The Flyers take on the New Jersey Devils tonight at 7:00PM at the Wells Fargo Center.

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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