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Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR4) Gm 27: NJ 1, PHI 6 – Cam Do Attitude


It was a night of true joy for Cam Atkinson and the Flyers. Could there be more games like this in-store? (Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR4) Gm 27: NJ 1, PHI 6 – Cam Do Attitude


The Philadelphia Flyers WIN, 6-1, over the New Jersey Devils, their third consecutive victory after losing ten straight. Are the Flyers back? It’s too early to firmly conclude one way or the other. Are the Flyers better than they were the last time they faced New Jersey (or the time before, for that matter)? Absolutely. And with the team barely a week into Mike Yeo’s tenure, that’s all fans could have realistically asked for.

It wasn’t just that the Flyers destroyed the Devils on the scoreboard that made this such a satisfying victory. If the Flyers had been on a good or average streak heading into the desert last weekend, neither of their victories in Vegas or Arizona would have registered as anything special. After all, they gave up a season-high 44 shots in the former, relying heavily on an excellent Carter Hart and their rejuvenated power-play to pull them to victory. Their 5-on-5 play was better on Saturday — Philadelphia’s 5-3 win over Arizona marked the first time they won the expected goals battle since their last win under Alain Vigneault way back on November 16. But it wasn’t like they out-chanced the Coyotes by much, and the 2021-22 Coyotes are an opponent where slightly out-chancing them is the bare minimum.

The Flyers didn’t just follow up those victories with a five-goal laugher; Tuesday’s game was arguably their very best performance of the season. Not only was their 66.6% expected goals mark a season-high, but it was also the first time all season they crossed the 60% threshold. After ten games of frustration seemingly entrenching itself in every decision the Flyers made by the end of the tailspin, the Flyers were lucky and good on Tuesday. Should MacKenzie Blackwood have stopped Travis Sanheim’s shot from the left circle in the 1st period and Justin Braun’s attempt from the right point in the second? Yes. But that ignores the other four goals of the night, and everything the Flyers did in between to earn this victory so convincingly.

After Sanheim gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead, it would have been understandable for the Flyers to play for intermission at the end of the opening period; especially considering they surrendered three goals in the final 90 seconds of every period in Vegas. Yet they took advantage of the open-ice a late 4-on-4 stretch awarded, with Rasmus Ristolainen mesmerizing the entire Devils team to set up Cam Atkinson for a tap-in.

It was the start of a busy night for Atkinson, who buried a laser of a slap shot at the end of a New Jersey power-play in the 2nd, took advantage of a Devils turnover to set up Oskar Lindblom (after looking him off on the aforementioned 2-on-1) for his second goal in five games after not lighting the lamp once this season beforehand, and then finished a gorgeous feed from Claude Giroux for the Flyers’ first hat-trick of the year.

All of a sudden, the Flyers have scored four or more goals in their last five games; the same number of times they did in their first five contests of the season. They infamously didn’t score four-plus again until the beginning of their current run. While the Flyers aren’t built to be a goal-scoring juggernaut, their depth when fully healthy — a state they’ve been in for, at best, one game all season — is pretty sensational.

That the Flyers can play as strong as they did on Tuesday against a struggling but not dreadful on paper Devils team (albeit one that doesn’t have a win against a non-Flyers opponent since November 20) with key pieces out of the lineup is something worth celebrating. A type of game like this didn’t even feel possible not that long ago. Impressive may be too strong a word for it, but the Flyers are at least in that ballpark. They couldn’t even dream of being in the parking lot ten days ago.

Slowly but surely, a path towards something positive is starting to open up for the Flyers. Their next two games are against the Montréal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators, the two worst teams in the East. They only have two games after that before a five-day Christmas break. It’s easy to see the Flyers building on the momentum of Tuesday (and last weekend, to a lesser extent) and rolling into those December 21 and December 23 matchups vs. Washington and at Pittsburgh with lots of confidence.

Of course, victory is far from a guarantee; Ottawa steamrolled an elite Florida team by an even larger margin (8-2) on Tuesday night as well. But after barely having the energy to pick their head up last Sunday, the Flyers at least have reason to hold them high. It won’t make up for everything that’s gone wrong this season; or throughout this calendar year, the last decade, and even longer. But a step in the right direction was the best case over the last five days. The Flyers have certainly done just that, raising the ceiling (if only slightly for now) for what the next days and weeks have to offer.


Of course, nothing is always quite as perfect as it seems. The Flyers lost another piece in the first period when Morgan Frost left the bench seemingly out of nowhere. After the game, Yeo delivered the bad news that Frost has entered the league’s COVID protocol. Hopefully, it’s just a false positive; but the rise in COVID cases among sports teams everywhere, the NHL included, has everyone holding their breath.

After scoring seven short-handed goals in 125 games in the 2019-20 (6) and 2020-21 (1) seasons (1 roughly every 18 games on average), the Flyers already have five this year in 27 contests; that’s one every 5.4 games, a 15-goal pace for the season. Six shorties in a full season are far from terrible; it put the 2019-20 Flyers in the top-ten league-wide. To nearly reach that mark is less than half of the games? Truly impressive stuff.

The Flyers’ 1.93 expected goals against (all situations) are also their lowest in any game this season. They hadn’t posted a single game under two all season before Tuesday. Even acknowledging the Devils’ difficulties due to non-COVID illness, it’s still truly an excellent defensive effort.

It’s also the Flyers’ first win by more than two goals since their 6-3 victory over Boston on October 10, their third game of the season.

If the Flyers can get both special teams units clicking, and it seems like they’re on their way (the power-play didn’t have any attempts on Tuesday), it would be a huge boost. Combine that with improved 5-on-5 play? Then you’ve really got something (combined PP% + PK% in last 3 games – 141.7%). Of course, sustaining that over time and against top-tier opponents is the big challenge. But you can only play who’s in front of you.

Maybe now that I’m on winter break, I’ll support Trey’s Vegas franchise streams with ones of my own for the Flyers?

POG Starter Jacket Standings Update!

Starter – 2

Sander/Sanner/Sandra/Sanny, Gobs, G, Hollywood, Risto, Coots, Jones, Honey Badger, Unknown – 1

Tonight marks not just Cam Atkinson’s first hat-trick as a Flyer, but his first since December 4, 2018, back when he was a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Jake Voráček’s production in Columbus has impressed a lot of people, and rightfully so; he leads the NHL with 17 primary assists despite his primary target Patrik Laine missing a significant chunk of the season. Yet Atkinson’s 36-goal pace is seemingly so easily overlooked in comparison. Part of that is that the Flyers have been playing below expectations overall while Columbus has been surprisingly solid. But not every trade needs to have a winner and a loser. Right now, Chuck Fletcher and Jarmo Kekäläinen are probably pretty happy with the guy they have. Remember, that’s the way it’s should work.

3 Stars

3rd: Oskar Lindblom (PHI) – Goal (1), Assist (2)

2nd: Travis Sanheim (PHI) – Goal (1), Assist (6), 22:49 TOI

1st: Cam Atkinson (PHI) – 3 Goals (10, 11, 12), Assist (7), 7 Shots


NJ: 12/18, 8 PM @ DET (14-12-3, W1)

PHI: 12/16, 7 PM @ MTL (6-21-3, L4)

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