Photo by Len Redkoles NHLI via Getty Images
Before playing the Arizona Coyotes on 10-27- 2016, the Philadelphia Flyers celebrated Heritage Night, commemorating 50 years of Flyers hockey and honoring those who are in the Flyers Hall of Fame. Inductees present included Bobby Clarke, Bernie Parent, Reggie Leach, Joe Watson, Brian Propp, Mark Howe, Dave Poulin, Ron Hextall, Dave Schultz, Jon LeClair, Eric Lindros, Rod Brind’Amour and Jim Watson. Family members stood in for Keith Allen, Mr. Ed Snider, Rick MacLeish, Barry Ashbee and Gene Hart. Seeing Philadelphia Flyers greats and their loving families complete a ring of awesome around center ice is lovely for the eyes and spirit to behold.
Once play began, it was business usual for the Philadlephia Flyers, they did not score during the 1st period. In tedious fashion, this is the 7th our of 8 games with this happening. However, the Coyotes put 2 goals on the boards. The first from Jamie McGinn at 7:33 in, and the second from Oliver Ekman-Larsson at 11:22.
Flyers Captain Claude Giroux realizes the first period lag; “Yeah the whole team, as a team we need to make sure were on that same page, I thought we were, the first was kind of ugly, that’s why we lost.”
Likewise, Coach Dave Hakstol had similar reflections; “We didn’t play well to start this game; we didn’t have the intensity to begin the game at the drop of the puck. It wasn’t there. We have to address that, we have to get better…..Several things we weren’t good enough in. Number one, we dug ourselves a two-goal deficit and weren’t very good without the puck. Quite honestly, throughout the game we weren’t good enough without the puck. Being a little sloppy with it, turning over in poor situations.”
Also relevant is the fact that Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald has considerable criticism leveled against him for many things in this game. One of them is Jamie McGinn’s goal. MacDonald was in position to possibly block Anthony Duclair’s shot on goal or its rebound to Jamie McGinn, which resulted in a goal. However, he failed to do any of those things. Also, it is very true that he is not the only defenseman on the team. Nonetheless, he is the defenseman closest to both players and in prime position to be making a big difference in whether goals are scored or not. The 1st period ended with the Arizona Coyotes leading 2-0 over the Philadelphia Flyers.
In contrast, the Flyers made it to the score board during the 2nd period, with Nick Cousins lighting the lamp at 9:34. Brayden Schenn and Dale Weiss were assisting. At 15:00, Brayden Schenn got his very own goal, tying the game 2-2. Captain Claude Giroux and Shayne Gostisbehere assisted (aren’t they such good guys?). The score remained 2-2 for the rest of the period.
It was a weird game that got weirder in the third period. Flyer Brayden Schenn and Coyote Jacob Chychrun exchanged the fisticuffs at the same moment Martin Hanzal snuck the puck past Steve Mason. Actually, Flyer Andrew MacDonald ended up running over and on top of his goalie while trying to get to Hanzal. So, sneaking isn’t the best word. Contrarily, MacDonald played the beloved children’s game “King of the Goalie” and won. Therefore, it was not so much sneaking and more of MacDonald held the door open and Hanzal walked the puck through it. Same team, MacDonald, same team.
“Their D skated up and I shifted too far to the left and he made a nice play to the middle and beat me with speed down the middle … that’s on me for sure…” said MacDonald. “We’re fortunate to come back once in a while, but you can’t continuously be fighting from behind, just sloppy play and poor reads and they’re able to get a few more on us.”
Flyers Goalie Steve Mason is making no excuses for the goal; “I wasn’t really paying attention to what was going on. I was focused on the play coming at me. Whether there was a whistle blown or not, we still gave up a goal.”
Now, back to the other goal issues. After much deliberating whether the Schenn versus Chychrun fight took place before the goal, it is declared a good goal. The Coyotes again took the lead 3-2. Shortly after, they added on to their lead at 8:10 due to Brad Richardson’s goal. Withal, 24 seconds later, Andrew MacDonald made it a one goal game for the Flyers with a score of 3-4. There was a slight bit of irony with this goal coming from MacDonald. It helps make up for some of the aberrations for the evening, nothing says “I’m sorry” like goals. Travis Konecy and Ivan Provorov were assisting.
At 15:41, former Flyer and current Coyote Ryan White scored the final goal for Arizona of the evening, making a comeback that much further away for the Flyers. With just 15 seconds left in the game, Flyer Wayne Simmonds valiantly made his effort to tie up the game. Unfortunately, no one followed his goal and he netted a final score of 4-5, with the Arizona Coyotes defeating the Philadelphia Flyers. This breaks the Coyotes 5 game losing streak. The Flyers are the only team they have beaten this season so far.
Head coach Dave Hakstol did not single out a single person, but the group; “We got to look ourselves. That always starts with waking up in the morning and looking in the mirror. That starts with me and goes through our entire group”
“That’s a game right there for the taking and it wasn’t the matter of anything else but us losing the game,” Flyers goalie Steve Mason said. “It was our own doing.”
Claude Giroux’s post game snack is sadness, he will never go hungry and will not be eating a grilled cheese sandwich of victory. Those are for winners only.
Andrew MacDonald, the name on everyone’s lips.
The uncanny level of vitriol aimed at Philadelphia Flyers Defenseman from the fans was nothing short of extraordinary. Twitter may have voted him off the planet. The posts are unkind, but they are entertaining. Look up his name on twitter and see for your self. There is even a go fund me page, made in jest, raising money to buy out his contract.
The 30 million dollar question:
Is it his play, or the expensive and shackle like contract that brought him here? The answer is most likely both. Expensive shackles aren’t necessarily a bad thing. If the person in the deal has the Stanley Cup in their back pocket or wasn’t sent back to minors last year, it’s a good thing. Notwithstanding, 5 million dollars a year is a bargain for a cup bearer. In like manner, to have that person do so 6 years is an investment in greatness and dynastic ambitions.
The reasons people riled up:
MacDonald’s plays for the evening, at times, featured passes or plays that were more difficult and riskier than need be. Giveaways happened and he made some less than optimal choices in the heat of the moment. He proved the Robert Frost phrase “Two roads diverged in a wood I- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference” correct, but not in a good way. Sometimes the path with least resistance is the way to go, and his choices and mistakes made a big difference. Since 2 of Arizona’s goals were heavily influenced by MacDonald, it is possible a different outcome would has arisen by fewer mistakes from the Flyers defenseman.
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