The Flyers beat the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche 5-3 on Monday.

(I wrote that as the lede for all the people who just read headlines and opening sentences and nothing else. The reality is that they beat a knock-off version of the Avs. Not only were they starting their backup goalie, but it was the last game of a road trip and they came into it missing nine starters and a tenth – their best player, Nathan MacKinnon – was injured early in the first period and never returned. So, take the notion of beating the Cup champs with a grain of salt.)

It wasn’t as well-played as their loss to New Jersey Saturday. It was good in fits and starts but t was also troublesome in fits and starts, too. There were way too many penalties and turnovers for coach John Tortorella’s liking as he was not nearly as effusive of his team’s effort as he was when he walked off the podium following his shortest press conference of the season this past weekend. 

There was one player though who bailed the Flyers out of several mistakes, allowing for the win, just their second victory in the last 14 games. That player was Carter Hart.

Yes, Colorado scored three goals – the first on an early power play in the opening minutes of the game, and the other two in a span of 37 seconds in the final two minutes of the game. But the 54ish minutes in between, Hart was sensational. And not just because he didn’t allow a goal in that span – the Avalanche had plenty of A1 chances on Hart and in each instance he turned them aside.

According to, Colorado had 22 scoring chances, of which nine were considered “high-danger” chances. Here are some of those nine:

The last stop on Cale Makar was the one that guaranteed the win in my mind. I have to think there were a lot of others like me, both in the building and watching at home who, when they realized it was Makar coming in on the breakaway were thinking, “yeah, this is going to be a goal.”

But Hart wanted a bounce-back game. Easily the Flyers best player so far this season, he took the New Jersey loss on his shoulders because he felt he was responsible for two goals – one because of poor puckhandling and the other for poor positioning. Well, he gave that performance, and for a while it was a virtuoso performance.

The problem is, the Flyers need Hart to have these kinds of games too often. Yes, you can’t be a consistently good team without good goaltending, but you can’t expect your goalie to be Superman in every start either. You need to put up goals, an that’s and area the Flyers have really struggled, but for once they were able to get a five-spot, and that was important.

It was only the sixth time this season the Flyers have scored more than three goals in a game (4-0-2).

“I’m sure Carter felt pretty good in where he has a two, three goal lead,” Tortorela said. “He hasn’t had much of that during the year. The situation we’ve been in this year – it’s hard to be a goaltender with us because you can’t make a mistake because we just have not been able to give him run support. Tonight, we found a way – our power play kicks in a couple. I’m sure that helped him.”

Speaking of the power play….

There’s a reason the Flyers power play entered the game ranked dead last in the NHL. By scoring twice against Colorado they jumped two teams and are now 30th. (Progress!)

But the reality is that the Flyers need to score on the power play if they want to win at all. They just don’t have the talent to consistently outscore their opponents at even strength and are often losing the even strength possession battle, which doubles the difficulty level of scoring with a lack of talent.

In the past couple games, the power play has looked much better. There’s good puck movement. There are smart plays being made. Running the PP through Kevin Hayes has been an unexpected find. And now, getting production from others besides Hayes and Travis Konecny (their leading point producers this season), diversifies the power play enough to get teams thinking about how to defend you a bit more. Yes, options are good.

Hayes continues his torrid start to the season in scoring. He added two assists against Colorado, and now has 27 points (8G, 19A) in 26 games. He is one of 48 players in the NHL (among the top 50 point-producers) who is averaging at least one point per game. Konecny, who scored an empty-netter to get his 10th goal of the season and score for the third straight game, is also averaging more than a point per game (22 points in 20 games), but he missed six games with a hand/wrist injury, which doesn’t have him among the top 50 scorers in the NHL.

Another player who has seemed to start to find a rhythm with his offensive game, at least, is Travis Sanheim. Sanheim had a goal and an assist against Colorado for only his second multi-point game of the season:

However, in his last nine games, he has nine points (3G, 6A). In his first 17 games he had just two assists.

And while Sanheim talked about being more confident in his game and recognizing times to jump up in the play offensively and take chances, his coach was a little less tempered with excitement about Sanheim’s recent offensive boost.

When asked if we’re starting to see what Sanheim can do offensively, Tortorella’s answer was curt.

“At times,” was all he said.

That’s because the coach isn’t always thrilled with his play in his own end, and that he is often better in garbage time – when the pressure is off – than when the game hangs in the balance – although scoring tying goals when the team is behind early in each of their wins in the past month, could e evidence that he can deliver in those “more important” times in a game.

The Flyers (9-12-5, 23 points) are in two different races, depending on your interests.

If you follow GM Chuck Fletcher’s perspective, they remain six points out of the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference (although there are six teams between them and ownership of that spot and the team that currently holds it – Detroit – not only leads the Flyers by six points, but has two games in hand).

If you follow the perspective of being bad enough to potentially win the lottery, the win put them further from the bottom of the league. They are now eight points better than Anaheim, who is in complete and utter tank mode. and they are also ahead of Chicago, Columbus, Arizona, San Jose, Ottawa and St. Louis.

After one more home game (Wednesday against Washington), nine of the following 11 games are on the road, which is probably when we will know if any changes could be coming within the organization.