Cam you believe it? The Philadelphia Flyers WIN, 4-2, over the Washington Capitals, in Cam York’s NHL debut. Philly gets to play spoiler to the Caps and their old friend Michael Raffl while also making their 2019 first-round pick’s NHL debut a night to remember for all the right reasons. Turns out you can win a hockey game with five gingers (York, Wade Allison, Sean Couturier, Jakub Voracek, and Claude Giroux) in your lineup. In fact, the gingers accounted for three of Philly’s four goals tonight. Who knew?
Philadelphia started the scoring early, which Joel Farabee tallying off a wild scramble in front with some help from Washington’s Garnet Hathaway, who swatted the puck into his own net. The Caps nearly tied the game in a similar fashion just a few minutes later. But Daniel Sprong’s prospective tally was immediately waved off for a kick. So instead he scored one the traditional way, blasting a one-timer right from the slot past a helpless Brian Elliott. Sprong’s sixth in as many games knots the score late in the first.
After a Flyers power-play went by the wayside early in the period, it seemed like the Caps might take over. But after a dominant Washington shift in the offensive zone, the Flyers tallied a quick-strike score. Oskar Lindblom went for another one of those angle dump-ins that 1) I love and 2) it feels the Flyers have done a ton this season, and it worked to perfection. Wade Allison wasted no time fielding the puck and rifling it over the shoulder of Vitek Vanecek, restoring the Philadelphia lead. The Wade Brigade reunited later in the frame; on a delayed call drawn by a beautiful net-drive by Scott Laughton, Allison batted it the rebound of a Phil Myers wrap-around goal.
But with just 69 seconds remaining in the frame, like Sprong (who has 6 goals in as many games), another Capital stayed hot. That being T.J. Oshie, who deflected a point shot past Elliott to get the crowd back into the game. It was a long time coming for the Caps, who heavily outshot (66.67% Corsi) and out-chanced the Flyers (5-1 in chances, 62.75% xG) at 5-on-5 in the second period. Philadelphia nearly weathered the storm completely, but Oshie’s fourth in two games (more on that below) had to settle for a one-goal lead heading into intermission.
The first half or so of the third period zipped by with whistles and chances few and far between, save for a post hit early by the Capitals. As the period progressed, the chances increased for both sides. Brian Elliott made some really sharp saves, and the Flyers even pushed a couple of times to extend their lead. In fact, the Flyers held a very impressive 69.66% score-and-venue adjusted 5-on-5 Corsi in the final twenty minutes. Washington pressured even more with Vanecek at the bench for the extra attacker. But it all went for naught, and Sean Couturier sealed the deal with an empty netter that Elliott earned an assist on. All in all, the Flyers snap a five-game losing streak against the Caps, beating them for the first time since Super Bowl Sunday. Neat!
Overall, very solid NHL debut for Cam York. His skating was very impressive, I thought he handled the puck pretty well, and he certainly didn’t make any glaring mistakes. York even got to quarterback the top power-play unit. His fancy stats weren’t spectacular (45.45% Corsi, which is decent, 25.96% xG, which is not), but I wouldn’t lose any sleep over that. York is a very solid prospect that could top out as a number two, and becoming a very good second-pair defenseman seems likely. I feel like his upside is similar to Travis Sanheim’s; whether or not he reaches or exceeds Sanheim’s level obviously remains to be seen.
Speaking of Sanheim, he got his first crack all season at playing with Ivan Provorov. The duo played very well, clocking in with a 70.85% Corsi and a 75% xG at 5-on-5. The duo hasn’t seen significant usage since the second half of the 2018-19 season when they were one of Scott Gordon’s most reliable (and best) defensive pairings.
|Corsi||xG||Time on Ice|
|Ivan Provorov-Travis Sanheim||46.21%||49.29%||829:22|
|Robert Hägg-Radko Gudas||41.53%||39.98%||384:58|
|Shayne Gostisbehere-Phil Myers||46.85%||37.65%||182:34|
The Flyers still should do everything in their power to find an external option to fill Matt Niskanen’s void. But if that player has a rough patch or gets injured (knock on wood), Sanheim could (and probably should) be the “next man up” to play with Provorov, even though doing so means moving to his off-side.
Joel Farabee currently leads the Flyers with 18 goals, two more than Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk. If that holds, Farabee would be the second-youngest player to lead the Flyers in goals in a season. Another 21-year old to lead the Flyers in goals during a season? Bobby Clarke. Not saying, just saying (he’s not going to be Bobby Clarke, but he’s still pretty good).
Congrats to Flyers prospect Elliot Desnoyers on signing his entry-level contract! It’s a three-year ELC at an $845,833 cap hit. It will almost certainly slide to start in the 2022-23 season, with Desnoyers expected to return to his CHL team (the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads). Desnoyers has 21 goals and 28 assists in 37 games for the Mooseheads this season. The 19-year old forward was taken in the 5th round (135th overall) in the 2020 draft by the Flyers.
Scary moment in the second period of this one, with Oskar Lindblom hitting Tom Wilson into Conor Sheary’s leg. No, this wasn’t Wilson becoming so hit-happy he went after a teammate, just an unfortunate incident. Sheary briefly left but did return to the game.
Speaking of Wilson, I feel a moral responsibility as a Flyers fan to point how ridiculous Shayne Gostisbehere getting two games for that late shove on Mark Friedman at the end of Tuesday’s game. Don’t get me wrong, what Ghost did was reckless, and he’s been suspended two games for it. And you can find an aggressive take about the Tom Wilson saga literally anywhere, so I don’t feel the need to delve into it here. But it needed to be said.
With his helper on the Coots empty-netter, Brian Elliott has recorded exactly one assist in each of his four seasons as a Flyer. Impressive consistency right there (assuming he doesn’t get another the rest of the season).
Rest In Peace to former Flyer (and former Ranger and King Jim Johnson, who passed away at age 78 yesterday.
Thanks to a 109-107 victory for the 76ers over the Pelicans, and with the Phillies beating the Braves 12-2, we could be in line for our second three Philadelphia victories day of 2021. If you look past this miserable Flyers season, there’s a lot of positives in Philly sports right now. The Sixers have won seven straight and will very likely be the #1 seed in the East. The Phillies are on the cusp of winning five straight, and while it’s still early, it’s better to be first in your division than not. Even the Eagles had a pretty good draft! And the Flyers’ future is far from totally hopeless. We all focus too much on the negatives, myself included. So smile and get ready… for the inevitable blowout loss to the Caps tomorrow. Come, on can’t let you get too chummy 😉
Lost (a little bit) in the shuffle of punches and penalties on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden was T.J. Oshie’s emotional hat-trick in his first game since his dad passed away. Oshie’s epic shootout performance in Sochi seven years ago is one of my first hockey memories. And I distinctly remember watching him talk about his dad’s fight with Alzheimer’s after winning the Stanley Cup in 2018. Brian Elliott offered him some kind words at center ice tonight during warm-ups. I wish I could do the same myself. That’s one of the coolest moments of the season, no doubt.
Lastly, apologies for the pretty short article tonight, and the several of the last couple nights in fact. This has obviously been an exhausting Flyers season to “cover,” and to say I’m a little burnt out is probably an understatement. Add in that I’m wrapping up my spring semester of college (my last day with a class is ironically on Monday, the last game day of this Flyers season) and it’s a bit tough right now to put together the reach the same level of quality I hit at the beginning/middle of the season (which probably isn’t very high to begin with). Where they are in the standings certainly doesn’t help, either.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not phoning it in (at least I don’t feel like I am), but I also acknowledge that like the Flyers, I’m probably not on my A-game right now. Tomorrow’s article might be similar to this one, but expect something much bigger and more detailed for Monday’s season finale. I promise I’ll (at least try to) go out with a bang.
3rd: Daniel Sprong (WSH) – Goal (13), 4 Shots
2nd: Brian Elliott (PHI) – .933 SV% (28 Saves/30 Shots), 2 GA on 2.13 xGA, Assist (1)
1st: Wade Allison (PHI) – 2 Goals (3, 4), 2 Blocks
5/8, 7 PM – PHI vs. WSH
Advanced Stats via Natural Stat Trick