Flyers
Why are all four Flyers defenders here literally standing in a straight line? Bold strategy, Cotton, and as the score shows, it didn’t play out well for them. (Tyger Williams/Philadelphia Inqurier)

You can’t break what’s already broken. The Philadelphia Flyers lose, 6-3, to the Washington Capitals, surrendering six to the Caps for the second time this week. Silver linings are few and far between. Capitals goals, not so much.

Even though they played a solid game in Pittsburgh Thursday, earning a 2-1 shootout win, the Flyers lines were thrown into a blender heading into today. But that was also indicative of the team’s sudden injury situation. Tanner Laczynski and Carter Hart both missed today’s games with lower-body injuries. Nolan Patrick took a shot to the head Thursday and did not play today, likely out of precaution. Carsen Twarynski and Nicolas Aube-Kubel filled in upfront, while Alex Lyon made his first NHL start since February 2, 2020, in goal.

The early returns were not positive. Alex Ovechkin drew a tripping penalty on Justin Braun, then ripped his signature one-timer on the power-play past Alex Lyon that may have nicked Phil Myers’ skate on the way in. The Capitals took the game’s first five shots. It was the fourth power-play goal for Washington in as many attempts in their last two games against the Flyers. Both teams had one PP for the rest of the period; both went by unthreateningly.

The Flyers registered just six shots on goal in the first period, but they made their last one count. Their top-pair left-handed Russian defenseman scored in the last minute of the first. Washington’s top-pair left-handed Russian defenseman scored in the first minute of the second. James van Riemsdyk scored his first goal since March 15th on a breakaway following a ghastly Washington turnover. Ovechkin drew another penalty on NAK, then scored another power-play goal just four seconds into the man-advantage. Evgeny Kuznetsov kept making Russia proud with a backhand-forehand finish all alone in front of Lyon off a cycle.

It took four tries for the Flyers power-play to breakthrough. Nick Jensen prevented Wade Allison from tapping in his first NHL goal at the net-front once, but that only delayed the inevitable. Kevin Hayes found Allison socially distanced from the Caps’ defense, and Wade fired his first NHL goal into the yawning cage! The celebration was short-lived; Conor Sheary won a face-off after the ensuing TV timeout, then deflected Justin Schultz’s point shot past Lyon for a dagger. Oskar Lindblom flubbed a 2-on-1 short-handed chance that could’ve made it interesting. Anthony Mantha skipped in an empty-netter to start his Capitals career with a three-game goal streak instead.

The Capitals looked like a team heading to the playoffs hungry to put a sloppy 5-2 loss to the Sabres behind them. They’re an experienced, physical team that has rolled through their competition all season. The Flyers looked like a listless team wishing there was a real-life “sim to offseason” button that still hasn’t fully cured the symptoms of a sloppy 5-3 loss to the Sabres last Sunday. They’ve been left limping by their opponents far too often this season. As Flyers radio announcer Tim Saunders perfectly summarized, “It hasn’t been that close.” Not a good sign when Nick Jensen is skating circles around your defense multiple times over. Alex Ovechkin had more energy in the last minute trying to get the hat-trick than the Flyers did all afternoon. Not good enough.

Of course, we’ve known for a while that the Flyers won’t be looking for that cure until the offseason when they can bring in players to fill their holes and address their issues. But that’s then, and this is now. Their structure was horrible today, bleeding shots ad nauseam on the penalty kill and especially at 5-on-5. There weren’t too many individuals who stood out to me, save for Allison. Not a single Flyer finished with the majority of the shot share (aka 50% or better Corsi) at 5-on-5. Only Claude Giroux finished over 50% in 5-on-5 Expected Goals%. The Flyers set season-lows in Corsi (30%) at Expected Goals% (22.52%) today.

Using the criteria I established Thursday, this game is a total failure in every sense you can imagine. Heck, this game is a total failure under any criteria. There are a dozen games left in this miserable season. Let’s hope for more success in those games, even if doesn’t translate on the scoreboard.

I’m sad Michael Raffl wasn’t healthy enough to have a homecoming today. Once again, all the best to the Austrian Rocket. I’m not rooting for the Capitals to win the Cup, but I’m rooting for Raffl to win one. Yes, I know that’s technically a contradictory statement.

Lindies

Make sure to check out the Capitals blog whose name I stole for today’s title. They’re a great Twitter follow for fans of any team as well.

Alex Ovechkin’s goal puts him up to ten points against the Flyers, scoring in each of the six meetings against the Flyers in 2021. That not only ties an Ovechkin record for longest goal-streak against an opponent, but it’s revenge for last season when the Flyers held Ovi without a point for the first time in a season. He’s just one goal back of tying Marcel Dionne for 5th all-time in goals at 731. He literally made too much history for me to recap in this section. What a career for the Great Eight, and unfortunately for the Flyers, it doesn’t look like he plans on slowing down.

John Carlson registered his first career four-point game today and would’ve had five if not for the stick of Phil Myers saving a surefire goal. Daily reminder that the Flyers gave Washington the first-rounder they used on Carlson in 2008. At least the Flyers beat the Caps in the first round that year?

After his two-goal performance against the Flyers Tuesday, Conor Sheary signed a 2-year, $3 million extension ($1.5 million AAV) with the Capitals. He certainly made that contract look like a good one with his goal today.

Alex Lyon played about as well as you could hope for your third-string goalie facing the league’s second-best offense in his just his fifth start of any kind (AHL or NHL) in the last thirteen months to play. Lyon made the routine saves (though juggled a couple), and was beaten by either a wide-open Capital in front, an Alex Ovechkin one-timer, or an unstoppable deflection. Don’t think Carter Hart or Brian Elliott would’ve played much better if they were in today. The Flyers did Lyon absolutely no favors by allowing 40

Washington has scored at least four goals in all but one of their games against the Flyers this year. Philadelphia has been able to stop few teams, and the Capitals’ offensive machine is no exception.

I was a bit surprised to see Carsen Twarynski enter the lineup over Connor Bunnaman today. Bunnaman seemed like the clear 13th forward when Morgan Frost when down early in the year, but he’s only played one game since March 17. Granted, it’s not like Bunnaman’s played well when he has gotten in (1 assist, 45.45% Corsi, 36.13% xG at 5-on-5), but it’s still a bit of a shock to see him jumped on the depth chart.

Ivan Provorov’s first-period buzzer-beater is his 50th NHL goal. A lot of that damage comes at even strength, too. Congrats, Provy!

Washington took a couple of pounds of flesh out of the Flyers today. Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Travis Konecny all ended shifts early after taking big hits from Capitals players that left them shaken up. Good luck to whoever has to play the Capitals in the playoffs. Even if you beat them, I don’t think they’re going to go down nearly as quietly as they did last year.

If the Flyers are going to win any of their remaining games, please let it be tomorrow. It’s Hockey Fights Cancer night at the Wells Fargo Center, and while we all deserve a lot better than what we’ve gotten out of the Flyers this season, no one deserves better than Oskar Lindblom.

3 Stars

3rd: Wade Allison (PHI) – Goal (1)

2nd: Alex Ovechkin (WSH) – 2 Goals (23, 24), Assist (18), 5 Shots, 20:08 TOI

1st: John Carlson (WSH) – 4 Assists (29, 30, 31, 32), 3 Shots, 22:01 TOI

Next

WSH – 4/18, 12 PM @ BOS (24-12-6, W3 – guess Taylor Hall’s been helping after all)

PHI – 4/18, 6:30 PM vs. NYI (27-13-4, L2)

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Advanced Stats via Natural Stat Trick