Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR4) Gm 58: PHI 1, CAR 3 – Empty
Just Hurri(cane) up and finish this season already. The Philadelphia Flyers lose, 3-1, to the Carolina Hurricanes. It’s hard to say that the Flyers deserved a better fate, too. A Carolina team that is far more talented than they are at every single position clearly looked better than them in every facet Saturday. Yet as they have in so many games this year — 21 of 23, to be exact — the Flyers had victory within reach (trailing by less than one goal or better) and couldn’t breakthrough.
Right now, the 2021-22 Flyers are trapped in a vicious cycle. They compete hard more or less night in and night out. Their goaltending is usually solid too; Martin Jones delivered an excellent performance on Saturday. But their lack of talent on both sides of the puck makes it hard to find anything in terms of tangible rewards. Philadelphia’s lone goal Saturday came when Frederik Andersen mishandled a Cam Atkinson dump-in and left the rebound right in front for Derick Brassard. Compare that to Carolina’s three goals. The first came off a gorgeous reversal from below the goal-line for a tap-in by Steven Lorentz. The second was the result of consistent pressure in the Flyers’ zone and another game-costing turnover by a clearly struggling Ivan Provorov.
Even Carolina’s empty-netter was more impressive than the Flyers’ goal; it came on the heels of dominant 6-on-5 defense, as the Flyers’ struggles with an extra attacker carried over even to a non-power play situation. Teams may see the Flyers as two easy points; and they probably should given where the team sits in the standings. That allows Philadelphia the chance to maybe catch some teams off their stride with a strong effort in the early to middle part of the game. Granted, them hanging around late into Saturday’s game had more to do with Jones’ stellar play. But it has happened several times this season.
However, when other teams have their back against the wall, there isn’t nearly enough of the Flyers’ side to prevent them from pushing back. When a team says to themselves that they will beat the Flyers this season, they almost always do. Call it a lack of confidence, the result of the team’s decimated state, or (more accurately) a combination of the two. The Flyers just don’t have the means to be a good team right now.
That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try to be one, of course. Jobs and new contracts are on the line for both players and coaches. Pending UFA depth pieces like Brassard and Jones should at least be motivated to prove themselves worthy for a contender to acquire. Young players like Cam York and Morgan Frost, who was recalled Saturday due to Scott Laughton’s injury Thursday, are trying to show management they are key pieces of the team’s future.
And if the future isn’t already the sole focus of the rest of this Flyers season, it will be shortly. Philadelphia technically isn’t eliminated from the playoffs yet — no team is, in fact. But even if they were to win out, today’s loss means they would only finish with 94 points. Under the NHL’s current playoff format, which went into effect in 2014, a 94-point team would’ve made the playoffs in the East just twice; and not once since 2016. The only light at the end of the 2021-22 Flyers tunnel is the end of the tunnel itself. At least this latest tantalizing defeat takes them one step closer to that.
I was definitely surprised to see Morgan Frost re-called to replace Laughton. Don’t get me wrong, Frost is obviously the most talented player on the Phantoms. But jerking him around between the NHL and AHL certainly doesn’t seem like the smartest way to handle his development. At the very least, if he’s going to be in the NHL, he needs to be on a scoring line. Max Willman (sent back to the AHL Friday) and Gerry Mayhew aren’t exactly ideal linemates for a pass-first, offensive-minded winger. Oskar Lindblom and Travis Konecny, Frost’s linemates today, are much better fits.
This may have been Kevin Hayes’ best game of the season. The Flyers’ second-line center was creating chances right from the get-go, finishing with four individual scoring chances and two individual high-danger chances, both first on the team. Hayes isn’t fully back to 100% yet; we saw that when he couldn’t pull away from Ethan Bear on what looked like a clear-cut breakaway near the end of the second. But Saturday definitely marked a clear step forward for Hayes.
Good day to be an ex-Rangers center with the name Der(i)ck. Derick Brassard’s goal for the Flyers was his 200th in the NHL; meanwhile, Derek Stepan picked up point No. 500 with that aforementioned beautiful reverse to set up Lorentz.
With the win, the Hurricanes now have a 13-game point streak at home (12-0-1), dating back to Jan. 13. It’s just two games shy of tying their franchise record of 15 from their Cup-winning 2005-06 season. In fact, Carolina has just four home regulation losses this season; one of which came to the Flyers back on Nov. 12. That win was Philadelphia’s fourth on the road of 2021-22; the Flyers have just three road wins since.
Saturday’s game is also the 19th time in 59 games (32.2%) the Hurricanes have held an opponent to two or fewer goals. Surprisingly, it was the first time they did so to Philadelphia in four meetings this season.
3rd: Frederik Andersen (CAR) – .966 SV% (28 Saves/29 Shots), 1 GA on 2.01 Expected Goals Against (All Situations)
2nd: Derek Stepan (CAR) – Assist (8), 4 Shots, 100% Faceoffs
1st: Jordan Martinook (CAR) – Goal (3), 4 Shots, 3 Hits
PHI: 3/13, 7 PM vs. MTL (15-35-7, L1)
CAR: 3/13, 1 PM @ PIT (35-15-9, W1)
All Advanced Stats are 5-on-5 unless otherwise stated and via Natural Stat Trick
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