Flyers
Nico Hischier’s third-period shortie put this game out of reach, as the 2021 Flyers move one game closer to being put out of their misery. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Yawn. The Philadelphia Flyers lose, 4-1, to the New Jersey Devils, who had lost ten straight before taking the last three. For the second straight game, the Flyers and Devils combine for less than 53 shots on goal, and for the third straight game, the Devils emerge victoriously. It’s their first three-game winning streak since February. For the Flyers, it’s just another numbing defeat in a disappointing season. Good to know April showers just bring May misery for the Orange and Black.

At exactly five minutes into the first, Jesper Bratt fired a very stoppable shot that Brian Elliott simply didn’t stop. The Devils, who came into this four-game series giving up the first goal in eight straight, have now scored first in four straight. It’s the tenth straight contest the Flyers have found themselves down 1-0. Is that better or worse than that whole trailing 2-0 in 32 of 82 games in 2018-19? Probably not, but it’s certainly close.

It took the Flyers seven minutes to even register a shot on goal. To be fair, it was a pretty good one, with MacKenzie Blackwood denying Wade Allison at point-blank range. The Flyers appeared to tie the game on an own goal by Yegor Sharangovich, but even though everyone in the building celebrated, the puck didn’t actually cross the goal-line. Disaster avoided, threw back to the clock to the days when they were masters of the trap. Yes, the Devils themselves managed just one shot on goal in the final 15 minutes of the first. But it didn’t seem to matter. Other than a Nic Aube-Kubel one-timer that rang off the post, New Jersey hardly gave up much. And they took their 1-0 lead into intermission.

New Jersey’s offense woke up pretty quickly into the second. Just seconds after a near 2-on-0, Jack Hughes found Janne Kuokkanen, free from the coverage of Jake Voracek, for a one-timer that beat Elliott glove-side just 52 seconds in. The goal against was so bad Alain Vigneault literally broke up the defensive pair on the ice for it (Travis Sanheim-Shayne Gostisbehere) on the spot.

It seemingly took FOREVER for the Flyers’ offense to find their stride in this game. But they did pick things up late in the second. To their credit, they eventually did, putting together some great offensive zone cycles and a dangerous power-play that saw Shayne Gostisbehere ring the iron. The Devils hit two posts in the period as well, one coming off a gorgeous power move by Jesper Bratt. But the Flyers did hold them to nine shots on goal and killed off their lone penalty of the frame. The first two periods were eerily similar in terms of 5-on-5 Corsi (1st: 64.71%, 67.86%), 5-on-5 expected goals (77.36%, 72.03%)… and actual goals (1-0 Devils, 1-0 Devils).

Just 5:14 into the third, Nico Hischier stripped Gostisbehere at the blue-line, tipped the puck past Voracek in the neutral zone, and sniped on Elliott on a 2-on-1. That’s a short-handed goal for the league’s worst penalty kill that all but put the game away. It also tied the Flyers with the Maple Leafs and Bruins for second-most shorties allowed in the league (6). Philadelphia absolutely had no energy left in them to make a late push as they did in the first two games of this four-game series.

If that wasn’t enough, Yegor Sharangovich, who you might remember nearly scored on the wrong net, but the puck into the right one to make it a 4-0 score. Joel Farabee spoiled Blackwood’s shutout bid with a snipe flying down the wing for his 16th of the season. But it hardly matters in the grand scheme of things: for the first time since December 2019 (which were the first three games after the team learned of Oskar Lindblom’s cancer diagnosis), the Flyers have lost three straight in regulation.

Lindies

When we said we wanted the Flyers to make history this season, we probably definitely should’ve been more specific.

This about sums that past Tweet up pretty accurately.

Playing in his second NHL game, rookie defenseman Kevin Bahl recorded his first NHL point with a secondary assist on the Bratt goal. You might remember him as one of the prospects the Devils acquired in the Taylor Hall. Congrats to the young 6’6” defenseman.

With Shayne Gostisbehere returning from his injury, the Flyers had to send Egor Zamula down to the AHL. Zamula was an emergency call-up; if the Flyers wanted to keep him up (or if they want to recall him later), they’d burn their third post-trade deadline call-up; teams are only allowed four) And if you’re wondering why the Flyers have been shuffling their taxi squad around, it’s because of this tidbit even I forgot about.

A delayed congratulations to Jake Voracek, who recorded his 600th NHL point on Thursday night.

Congrats to Kevin Hayes on finally getting that 500th NHL game in! Better late than never, huh AV?

Lastly, wanted to mention this in case anyone is on the fence about it. I received my second shot of the COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer, to be specific) this morning. If you have the chance to get it (and just about everyone over 16 in the U.S. does), I really think it’s something you should do, and do ASAP. It’s the only way to end this pandemic once and for all.

I joined Adam Krieger’s podcast to talk about the NHL playoff race, early returns on the NL East, and my writing style. Check it out!

3 Stars

3rd: Yegor Sharangovich (NJ) – Goal (15), Assist (13)

2nd: Jesper Bratt (NJ) – Goal (7)

1st: MacKenzie Blackwood (NJ) – 32 Save Shutout on 3.31 xGA

Next

NJ – 5/3, 7 PM vs. BOS (30-14-6, W3)

PHI – 5/3, 7 PM vs. PIT (33-15-3, W1)

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Advanced Stats via Natural Stat Trick