A poor call frustrated Claude Giroux and the Flyers above, but there are far bigger issues for the team to be concerned about right now. (Yong Kim/Philadelphia Inquirer)

Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR4) Gm 16: BOS 5, PHI 2 – Mean

Not too fun being bossed around. The Philadelphia Flyers lose, 5-2, to the Boston Bruins. The Flyers suffer just their second regulation loss at home this season and prepare for a trip to Florida on a sour note as a difficult November schedule continues to take its toll (and take away opportunities to earn points in the standings).

A lot of people will point straight to netminding when discussing this loss. But Martin Jones wasn’t necessarily horrible tonight. Tomas Nosek was left alone in front of the net and shelved a beautiful backhander to start the scoring on Boston’s twentieth(!) shot of the first. Derek Forbort’s slap shot in the first minute of the second ticked off Justin Braun on the way in. Forbort was given far too much time in the slot later in the frame and made the Flyers pay with a perfectly placed shot. Craig Smith’s also scored on a bit of a snipe; although his shot was certainly stoppable and the type of big save you lean on your goaltender for. And the insurance marker was the product of a 4v4 defensive breakdown and David Pastrnak doing what David Pastrnak does.

This wasn’t Martin Jones reverting to second half of his time in San Jose form. This is regression to the mean. Everyone knew the Flyers were receiving unsustainably good goaltending; entering Thursday night, the Flyers were 3rd in the NHL with a .927 team save percentage. Over the last two games, that mark has dipped to just .893. Tonight’s game is about as close to goaltending being the primary reason for the Flyers losing; only the home opener against Vancouver might have a better case.

That dip hasn’t created problems for the Flyers that didn’t exist previously (other than losing consecutive games, something they hadn’t done all season before the last two contests). Instead, it’s magnified the issue that was there before — and still remains. Welcome to the mean, Flyers fans. It’s about as enjoyable as it sounds.

Yes, the Flyers’ power-play finally scored for just the second time since November 4th in Pittsburgh. And they did so off a pretty sweet passing play as well. But they managed just one shot on their other three attempts (one of which lasted 12 seconds, though one shot in two tries isn’t much better). The Flyers surrendered a season-high 21 shots on net in the first period; some of that had to do with Boston spending about four minutes on the power-play, including a brief 5-on-3. But their 5-on-5 metrics (40% Corsi, 35% Expected Goals). The third pair of Keith Yandle and Nick Seeler has at least held their own most nights this season. Tonight was a different story. The two whiffed on puck battles behind the net right before Nosek’s goal. And they were the ones that rolled out a red carpet for Forbort to score the eventual game-winner.

You can get away with these things when your goaltending is some of the league’s best. When it’s not, they are the things that cost you hockey games. Maybe the Flyers win if Jones stops Smith’s rush chance early in the 3rd. But it’s not like that would fully absolve those issues either. As long as they persist, the Flyers ceiling will remain out of reach; both the slightly lower one that accounts for Hayes and Ellis’s absences and the ultimate peak the Flyers are ultimately aspiring towards. In the more immediate future, they’re the type of issues that could cause Tampa Bay or Florida — the Flyers’ next two opponents — to make an example of them.

Having flaws in November is far from the end of the world. After all, the 2019-20 club went on a four-game losing streak at roughly the same time of the year. They responded by calling up Morgan Frost, and in turn, received a jolt that probably would’ve lasted longer if Oskar Lindblom’s cancer diagnosis a few weeks later didn’t understandably throw them for a loop. Then again, that 2019-20 team also set a franchise record for points in November, so it’s not like this is completely an apples-to-apples comparison.

Here’s the bottom line. With the goaltending bubble not completely bursting but probably starting to shrink, the Flyers’ flaws are coming for them. It’s up to the Flyers to attack those flaws with matching if not greater vigor to keep their slump (1-2-1 in their last 4) from turning into a skid.

Lindies

Oh, you thought the Morgan Frost mention was something to gloss over? Morgan Frost scored his second goal of the season (and team-leading 14th point in 15 games) on Saturday. After an uneven start to the season that included even a benching, Frost seems to be firing on all cylinders in the AHL level once again. You have to think the Flyers are looking to call him up soon. Not only could his speed and puck-carrying ability help the power-play, but I’d also like to see what Zack MacEwen could do on a fourth line where he isn’t the most dangerous offensive player (though the fourth line was strong tonight, posting a 73% Expected Goals mark).

In two games together, the Oskar Lindblom-Scott Laughton-Travis Konecny line has had a sub-20% Expected Goals rating. There just doesn’t seem to be much chemistry between the trio; not to mention they were outscored 2-0 tonight at 5-on-5. Moving Konecny up to the top line in Joel Farabee’s place would make more sense to me. Farabee has scored just once since the last time these two teams met exactly one month ago. I thought he looked a little bit better tonight than earlier in the week when he was very clearly forcing dangles and just needed to simplify his game overall. But I don’t think Alain Vigneault wants to break up the second line (three goals at 5v5 in two games together), which limits the potential options as long as Hayes is out.

Vigneault once again didn’t comment on Hayes’ status, but the news on Patrick Brown seems pretty bleak. Brown is reportedly deciding on rehab or surgery for the thumb injury he suffered on Tuesday. If it’s the latter, we unfortunately might not see him in Orange and Black for a while.

Not exactly sure where the referees came up with the “delay of game” penalty on the Flyers when it was Patrice Bergeron who knocked the puck out of the official’s hand before a face-off. The call killed any chance of a Flyers comeback, as the team was about to be on the power-play prior to the penalty. It’s not the primary reason the team lost, of course, but it’s still frustrating for fans and players alike.

Derick Brassard delivered easily his best game as a Flyer tonight, and it’s not just because he scored twice. He led the Flyers with 0.31 individual expected goals for (Cam Atkinson was second at 0.19), finished second behind Atkinson and Travis Sanheim (who had a couple of really good plays on the rush but was also beat wide by Smith on the 4-2 goal), and drew a penalty.

Maybe this game is different if the Flyers would’ve capitalized on either (or both) of their two breakaways. Claude Giroux had one short-handed exiting the penalty box, but couldn’t beat Linus Ullmark or bury his own rebound. James van Riemsdyk, playing in his 400th game as a Flyer, couldn’t covert a similar chance in the second, although he also had a Bruin to fend off en route to the net.

One really frustrating thing for me is how the Flyers seem to just default to dump and chase on the power play in their last few games. Not only are controlled entries objectively a much more effective way of entering the offensive zone, but they really shouldn’t be that hard to create with an extra player on the ice. It wasn’t a big deal tonight; Philadelphia’s forecheck was tremendous, both on the power-play tonight and at 5-on-5. But it’s a symptom of the larger issues for a PP that is just 22nd in xG for per 60.

3 Stars

3rd: Derick Brassard (PHI) – 2 Goals (3, 4), 4 Shots

2nd: Craig Smith (BOS) – Goal (1), Assist (1), 4 Shots

1st: Derek Forbort (BOS) – 2 Goals (3, 4), 3 Shots

Next

BOS: 11/21, 7 PM vs. CGY (9-3-5, W1)

PHI: 11/23, 7 PM @ TB (9-4-3, L1)

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All Advanced Stats are 5-on-5 unless otherwise stated and via Natural Stat Trick