The Flyers struggled as much as most teams have in FLA Live Center this season. Martin Jones gave them something to be thankful for with a stellar performance to earn a point. There’s something else the Flyers should be thankful for: time. Immediate results are preferable, but it’s ok to use some. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR4) Gm 18: PHI 1, FLA 2 (OT) – Along The Way

At least this went better than the last time the Flyers called Morgan Frost up before a game in Sunrise. The Philadelphia Flyers lose, 2-1, in overtime, to the second team in NHL history to win their first eleven home games, the Florida Panthers. The Flyers became just the second team all season to even push the Panthers to OT at FLA Live Arena; they’re the first to hold them to less than four goals on their ice as well. Yet despite one of the best performances of Martin Jones’ career, the Flyers couldn’t nurse or extend their early 1-0 lead, falling to 0-2-2 in their last four games.

Earning a point on the second half of a back-to-back against one of the NHL’s best teams is impressive. The path the Flyers took to doing so wasn’t. Philadelphia struck just 7:33 in, with Travis Konecny firing the rebound of one of the seven shots Jones saved up to that point up the ice, right onto Joel Farabee’s tape. Sure enough, Farabee made no mistake with a beautiful five-hole finish for just his second goal since October 20. But once again, Philadelphia’s attack proved far too toothless to produce a victory. Philadelphia generated just 1.67 expected goals for at 5-on-5 and 2.46 in all situations. That those figures don’t even rank in the bottom half of the team’s performances this year is an indictment on how poor the Flyers’ offense has been over the last month.

Sergei Bobrovsky was sharp on the odd 2-on-1 or dangerous deflection chance from the Flyers the rest of the way. Martin Jones, on the other hand, had a much busier night. After cooling down in the immediate aftermath of the Farabee goal, Florida’s offense ran circles around the Flyers’ restructured defense. Alain Vigneault understandably felt the need to break up the Keith Yandle-Nick Seeler pairing after a brutal game on Tuesday, but the new pairs — Ivan Provorov-Rasmus Ristolainen, Travis Sanehim-Seeler, Yandle-Justin Braun — played incredibly poorly. Only Provorov finished with a Corsi or Expected Goals figure above 40%; no one even approached break-even. While the result was certainly better, tonight’s game wasn’t a step forward to solving the team’s 5-on-5 woes, especially in the offensive zone.

And you know what? That’s ok. This was never going to be the night where the Flyers did just that. Could they have played a little bit better? Perhaps. But with every circumstance going against them, Philadelphia found a way to make at least a little bit of progress in the standings. Jones was basically the sole reason why; his 44 saves were the second-highest mark of his career, and he stopped just under two goals above expected (+1.88, to be exact). The Flyers were one lucky bounce off the post on Cam Atkinson’s overtime breakaway from pulling out a victory in the standings. But the moral victory of the pity point can have value.

The Flyers are undoubtedly sliding down a path that has almost no long-term chance of success. I understand the fanbase’s frustration, in part because I know it’s not just because of this one skid. It’s the hope we had in those first five games. It’s the hope we’ve had for the last however many years you’ve been paying attention to this team. The Flyers have won just one playoff series since 2012 and haven’t brought the Cup to Broad Street since 1975. To use a term that Alain Vigneault often referenced in his first year here, the team doesn’t have a lot of money in the bank with its fanbase when it comes to the on-ice product.

But I’m here to tell you it’s perfectly normal for some good to great teams to struggle at this point. The 2019-20 Lightning (the last team to win the Cup in an 82 game ish season) didn’t fully recover from the prior year’s stunning first-round sweep to Columbus until sweeping a two-game series against the Sabres in Sweden from November 8-9 as part of the NHL’s Global Series. The 2018-19 Blues fired their head coach Mike Yeo on November 19. They were dead last in the league on January 3. The 2015-16 Penguins fired their head coach on December 12. They were tied for 10th in the East on New Year’s Eve.

The point of this isn’t that struggling now means the Flyers are destined for a championship. Every team goes through adversity at some point. The Panthers eventually will, too. Yes, snapping their concerning trends is priority number one for Philadelphia. This game didn’t do that. But there’s nothing wrong with a game that’s just a stop along the way in a daunting portion of their schedule. Especially when the team picks up a point against all odds.

Lindies

The good news for the Flyers is that per The Athletic’s Charlie O’Connor, Derick Brassard’s lower-body injury suffered last night doesn’t appear to be a major one. Still, the hope is that Morgan Frost can play well enough during his absence, however brief, to convince the Flyers that he’s ready to stick at the NHL level. At the very least, I thought he did enough to earn another look.

Frost did a little bit of everything tonight. He made a couple of crafty passes including one that would’ve resulted in an excellent chance for Farabee if he hadn’t bobbled the puck. He was noticeable on the forecheck but was also to show off his speed and skill while entering the zone. And he even won 63 percent of his face-offs, the highest mark for any player Wednesday (min. two draws). His line with Joel Farabee and Cam Atkinson was the team’s only to finish with an Expected Goals percentage above 50. Frost is officially on emergency recall status, but the team has plenty of cap space to give him a normal promotion if he earns it. I thought Frost took a step towards doing so in this game.

One thing that would’ve certainly helped Frost stand out even more? Late in the first period, Frost had a breakaway rubbed out because of an offsides call; however, replay showed Frost kept his skate on the blue-line and play shouldn’t have been stopped. Granted, the same thing happened to Tampa Bay’s Alexandre Barré-Boulet on Tuesday, so I guess the Flyers are even in that regard.

The only team other than the Panthers to win their first eleven games at home? The 1963-64 Chicago Black Hawks (not a typo), who featured four Hall of Famers. Pretty good company for Andrew Brunette’s club.

The only game Jones made more saves than tonight was a 47-stop performance on March 7, 2017, a 2-1 overtime Sharks win in Calgary. I’m not sure he’s ever made a better save than the sprawling paddle lunge he used to deny Sam Reinhart, who torched the Flyers a year ago, in the second period. On a night where Jones made numerous ten bell saves, that was easily his best in Philly so far.

With a jaw-dropping 17 back-to-backs, get used to the Flyers scratching and clawing to do whatever they can on nights like these. Philadelphia is a perfectly solid 1-1-1 on the second part of back-to-backs so far.

Finally, Happy Thanksgiving to me and my family to you and yours! The holiday spirit definitely affected my plan for this article; there’s only so much negativity you can take on a day like today. I know a lot of you are down on the team, and I understand why. But don’t forget the other key part of the point of sports. Make sure to enjoy today with (or if that’s not possible, reach out to) the people you love.

3 Stars

3rd: Martin Jones (PHI) – .956 SV% (43 Saves/45 Shots), 2 GA on 3.88 Expected Goals Against

2nd: Sergei Bobrovsky (FLA) – .970 SV% (32 Saves/33 Shots), 1 GA on 2.46 xGA

1st: Aaron Ekblad (FLA) – Goal (6), Assist (11), 4 Shots, 26:00 TOI

Next

PHI: 11/26, 3:30 PM vs. CAR (14-3-1, L1)

FLA: 11/26, 5 PM @ WSH (12-3-5, W1)

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