Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Norm Hall via NHLI/Getty Images
The Philadelphia Flyers played the Arizona Coyotes on October 15th, the second part of their back to back on their season debut road trip as well as the first game and home opener for the Coyotes. After winning their first season opener in five years, the Flyers were pressed for rest after their jet lagged debut. Though they were on a road trip with varying time zones and a tough schedule, the Flyers did not seem like the efforts the night before had any negative effects. The first period demonstrated this efficiently; in some aspects, there were some improvements with even greater potential. In others, they brought some bad habits from previous years with them to Glendale.
Flyers Coach Dave Hakstol agrees; “We’re doing a lot of good things, our effort level was outstanding. Back-to-back nights it’s the effort you want. Mentally, we can do better. And be a little sharper on. Those are things we’ll try to improve … we left one point on the table, so we can do better.”
Philadelphia came out with exponentially more (I am saying exponent 3 +2% more, but the numbers are open to debate) fire Saturday than they did in Los Angeles on Friday. Early in the first period, the Coyotes were the dominating with hits, shots and face offs. Being on the power play was aiding Arizona in this. Fortunately, the Flyers took their place in the game around five minutes in when Shayne Gostisbehere opened the seal by taking the teams first shot on goal. However, this time is fractional to the length of time needed for complete that task the night before (13:08, *sigh). Face off wins, hits and more shots on goal followed. By the end of the first, their efforts more closely matched their opponents than the previous night.
Observe; A Comparison of The Los Angeles Game’s 1st Period to The Coyotes:
Shots On Goal 10-14-2016:
The Philadelphia Flyers- 7
The Los Angeles Kings – 15
Shots On Goal 10-15-2016: The Flyers made 43.49% of the shots on goal for the first period.
The Philadelphia Flyers- 10
The Arizona Coyotes- 13
The Flyers made less than 32% of the shots on goal for the first period against the Kings, where as they made 43.49% of those shots against the Coyotes, over an 11% increase! Only 11% you say? Five minutes before shooting on goal you say? There were some mitigating circumstances that effected their progress; their bad habits that look very familiar.
The Familiar and Unfortunate Habits
Philadelphia brought out too many men on the ice penalties out like a thread bare security blanket with a speed that race cars would envy. They incurred their first of such penalties just 35 seconds into the game, putting the Coyotes on the power play. The Flyers committing the same penalty just 2:17 minutes later implies this not a lesson learned. Consequently, they were only playing at even strength for 17 seconds before becoming short handed again. Out of the first five minutes of the game, they were lacking a man for four minutes of it. The Philadelphia Flyers had mitigating circumstances as to why it took until 5:08 into the first period before getting their first shot on goal; they were killing penalties.
While the penalty kill was successful, it did limit their ability to dominate the Coyotes. It inhibited their show everything they were improving on, sort of. While they are not showing much improvement in the way of numbers for the first five minutes, improvement is showing in that they are holding their own short handed. It is easy to imagine more shots, face off wins and hits in those minutes IF they were at full strength. It is also easily annoying that these penalties are dampening this magical experience season after season. Think of the Philadelphia Flyers like Harry Potter’s Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry; they don’t teach handwriting, math or counting skills. But they do teach magic and that is what is really important as long you don’t try to balance a checkbook.
Thereafter, play continued as normal until 8:45 into the period when a high stick from Nick Cousins gave the Coyotes a power play. This lead to Shane Doan scoring the games first goal at 8:49. Dave Hakstol’s challenge to the play was unsuccessful. The Flyers were able to make their own tally to the score board at 12:31, a gift from Michael Raffl, assisted by Nick Schultz and Brandon Manning. Unfortunately, the tie would not last long with Martin Hanzal scoring at 14:17.
Boyd Gordon was also close to tying the game, but it called as no goal. Flyers coach Dave Hakstol challenged the play to no avail.
Consequently, a disappointed Dave Hakstol said “It was called ‘no goal’ on the ice and has to be conclusive to flip it over, I looked at it on the bench. … There was no visual evidence to overturn.”
The game evener that would have been Boyd Gordon also commented on the call; “One of those plays you feel like it went in, but he did a good job making it look like it didn’t go across the line, It seemed like it did.”
The first period ended with a score of 2-1, with the Arizona Coyotes in the lead.
17 seconds into the second period, the Coyotes took advantage of a turn over, resulting in a goal by Brad Richardson. That quickly. The Philadelphia Flyers responded with an impressive push, cultivating in a goal 6:16 in by Wayne Simmonds, assisted by Claude Giroux. The period was lacking other fascinating events, with the Flyers getting in 11 shots on goal over the Coyotes 7. The second ended with the Philadelphia Flyers down 2-3.
The pressure put on by the Flyers in the third period in the Coyotes game was dramatically different than the Kings game. The Flyers were dominating the Kings in shots (16-8) and competing in hits (8-9), resulting in a win. Lamentably, they were offering no such resistance to the Coyotes with 4 shots on goal versus 13 OR hits (6 versus 10). At the same time, this does not detract from the potency of those shots. Matt Read, assisted by Travis Konecny and Brandon Manning tied the game at 3-3 4:36 into the period. Unfortunately, they would not be scoring any other goals, sending them to their first over time of the season.
Additionally, Flyers new comer Boyd Gordon shared his take on Saturday’s game; “They got a young, fast team and they want to get pucks deep and back us off, I think we weathered the storm. Their first game, they had a lot of energy.”
The Philadelphia Flyers made a valiant come back and attempt at a second win and sprinkle on another home opener with 5 shots on goal. Sadly, they were unable to secure sweet victory for themselves nor morale dilapidation for their opponents. Oliver Ekman-Larson scored the game winning goal with the final score of 4-3. The Flyers received a point for going to overtime. In addition, it is important to take into consideration that this early in the season, the Flyers are usually struggling. Three out of four points is decent and percentage wise would be a passing grade in high school.
“We scratched and clawed our way out of a hole. It’s just disappointing not to finish it. We said coming in that every point is so valuable. We’re not happy we didn’t finish it,” reflected Philadelphia coach Dave Hakstol.
But wait! The story doesn’t end there! It ends with red headed cynosure and Flyer Jakub Voracek disputing a non call of a stick grabbing penalty and receiving 22 minutes of called penalties. These are for unsportsmanlike conduct, misconduct and game misconduct.
Steve Mason made 31 saves during his inaugural season appearance.
For the sympathy point, Captain Claude Giroux gets a sympathy cheese spread on toast, but only winners get a grilled cheese sandwich of victory.
When next you see the Philadelphia Flyers, it will be Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. E.T. and they will be playing the Chicago Blackhawks.
See game highlights below.
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