It had been 11 days since the Flyers played hockey. After watching the first 55 minutes of the game it looked like it had been 11 years.

And considering the state of this franchise in that time frame, many skeptics would argue that, yeah, it’s been that long.

But sometimes, in this weird sport, you only have to play well for about eight minutes and you can come away with a victory – and that’s what happened for the Flyers Wednesday, as they defeated the Seattle Kraken 3-2 in overtime.

Playing the Kraken had a lot to do with it. When you play a team coached by Dave Hakstol that didn’t exist other than in name only a few months ago, you can get away with a less than quality effort and still win.

And it’s not like the Flyers can use the “rust” as an excuse either. The Kraken also had not played in 11 days. Thanks to COVID-19 outbreaks all across the sport, most of the league had been on hiatus for at least that long.

So, when captain Claude Giroux was interviewed after the first period of the broadcast by Keith Jones and described his team’s play thusly, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise:

Sorry, no video. You know, it’s not like it aired on a channel that considers itself a news entity that would recognize the comment as newsworthy and that it would take them all of the 30 seconds to rip that video and post it on social media and get all sorts of engagement from it.

I mean, why do that when instead you could be posting things like this tense-confused tweet:

But I digress…

Giroux was right. The Flyers were pretty terrible in that first period. Hell, they were even worse in the second and until they finally decided to play desperate hockey when trailing in the third, they were pretty terrible then too.

How bad was it?

Midway through the third period, the Flyers had amassed just 13 shots on goal. Against the Kraken.  Let that sit for a minute.

The only one that went in to that point was this one from James van Riemsdyk:

And as you can see from the tweet, it was a historic goal. Not for JVR, who has suddenly gotten hot, as he is wont to do as a streaky goal scorer, but for Giroux.

It was his 600th career assist. He became just the 94th player in NHL history to reach that plateau.

It was his 884th point, all with the Flyers.

Here is the list of Flyers players with more career points than Giroux:

  • Bobby Clarke

That’s it. Giroux officially passed Bill Barber on the all-time scoring list with that little pass to set-up JVR.

He also leads the NHL in power play points in the last decade. The guys who are right behind him? In order, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Sidney Crosby, and Phil Kessel.

That’s some rarified air.

Alas, it was a fleeting moment for the Flyers, who couldn’t get the puck up ice at all against a Kraken team that allows the third-most goals per game in the NHL.

It was pretty awful to watch.

The Flyers weren’t doing little things well. There wasn’t a lot of support on breakouts. There was frustration on entries, and they would simply dump it in and change, tired from just getting the puck to the red line.

And then Seattle would come back at them with speed, and the whole process started over again.

Martin Jones, starting while Carter Hart is in the COVID-19 protocol, kept the Flyers in the game. Overall he made 34 saves and, along with JVR, who also scored the Flyers second goal, were the only reasons the Flyers had a chance to even earn one point, let alone two.

The Flyers have an interesting decision to make in goal tonight as they play in San Jose. Originally, the plan was for Hart to start in Seattle  After all, he played his junior hockey in nearby Everett, Washington and has a lot of fans in the Seattle area, and Jones was going to get the nod tonight against the Sharks, his former team.

With Hart in the protocol, Jones got the nod against Seattle and could still play tonight as well considering the team had all that time off before these two games.

But then the Flyers would likely have to turn to Felix Sandstrom to make his NHL debut on New Year’s Day in Los Angeles against the Kings, who are a bit heavier of a team and throw a lot of shots at the net.

Interim coach Mike Yeo has to weigh the decision of which team it makes more sense to get Sandstrom in goal against before making the call.

But that’s a decision for later.

For now, it’s reflecting on Jones giving the Flyers the type of game they need from a goalie here and there to steal a win. And he gave it to them.

But, he was a little lucky too.

The Kraken had a goal taken off the board on a coach’s challenge by Yeo contesting that Jayden Schwartz had interfered with Jones, preventing him from making a save.

It was close (again, no video, courtesy NBCS Philly), but it appeared Schwartz did arrive into the crease mere nanoseconds before the puck and did make contact with Jones. It was a 50/50 call that went the Flyers way.

Jeremy Lauzon, who scored that goal, and had it taken off the board, did eventually get one that counted though, and put Seattle up 2-1 with 5:28 to play in the game.

That’s when the Flyers decided to show up.

JVR scored again, his fifth goal in the last six games, on a nice cross-ice pass from Travis Sanheim, and the Flyers quickly tied it 2-2.  So quickly, it was only 15 seconds after Lauzon’s goal:

Then the game slinked into overtime, the third straight game the Flyers would play that went past regulation.

And in the overtime, Seattle had more chances, as Jones made four more saves, but then the Flyers finally got one, as Kevin Hayes made a perfect pass to Ivan Provorov to set up this late-night OT magic:

Provorov, who has been less than stellar this season, does have a knack for overtime drama, and with his moves, and the Flyers 16-year futility at scoring in the shootout, maybe he deserves a crack at it next time.

Anyway you slice it, this was an ugly, ugly win. But, it was a win, nevertheless.

The Flyers are now 5-0-1 in their last six games and have climbed back to within two points of a playoff spot, somehow. And interestingly enough, the Flyers improved to 7-0-5 in one-goal games this season. It’s crazy that they don’t have a regulation loss by one goal.

Yet, they will need to be a lot better than this if they plan to continue to have success on this road trip. The Sharks, Kings and Ducks aren’t great teams (although the Ducks have been the surprise team of the NHL so far this season), but none of them are going to be a walkover, and if the Flyers couldn’t find the energy to play better against the Kraken until there was five minutes to play in regulation, then don’t expect much moving forward.

However, if they can beat the Sharks, and get another two points, and be back in a playoff spot before the calendar flips to 2022 despite a 10-game losing streak earlier this month, that would be pretty remarkable.

Remember Nick Luukko?

Back in 2010, the Flyers drafted University of Vermont defenseman Nick Luukko in the sixth round of the NHL draft. The son of then-team President Peter Luukko was always considered a long shot for the NHL. He played four seasons in the ECHL for the Reading Royals and had a cup of coffee in two stints with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms after he finished his collegiate career.

Nick hung up the skates as a player following the 2018-19 season, but still wanted to stay in the game, and the West Chester native turned to coaching.

He was hired as a head coach of the Jacksonville Icemen for the 2021-22 season, his first head coaching gig, and the 30-year-old coach has impressed.

Luukko has his team on a nine-game winning streak as the Icemen (18-8-2) sit atop the South Division. The team’s 38 points are the most of any team in the entire League.

It’s a great story about a local guy succeeding early in his career, and Luukko sure has a long way to go yet before he is even considered in a conversation at the next level, but keep an eye on him. He’s sharp, smart, and seems to know how to motivate his players.

He could be an interesting name a few years down the line.

Although, I can’t imagine the people who run the Flyers organization (non-hockey department) ever considering him because of his name, but someone, somewhere in this league is going to take a chance on a young coach.

We’re rooting for him.

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