Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR4) Gm 76: BUF 5, PHI 3 – Tag(e) Team
So let me get this straight. The Philadelphia Flyers lose, 5-3, to the Buffalo Sabres. Ok, fine. Yeah, it’s a loss to the ninth worst team in the league, but the Flyers are fourth worst so that checks out. This game wasn’t about the Flyers winning, or even legitimately dominating Buffalo. All the Flyers needed to do was be better than they were yesterday. You know, when they lost the all-situations shot attempts battle 46-14 through 40 minutes, were -2 on special teams (essentially going 2/8; 0/4 PP, 2/4 PK), and played like they were painfully aware that they were the third best Philadelphia team playing that very night. Surely even a team as dismal as the 2021-22 Flyers could undoubtedly clear that bar.
Maybe they even did just that. After justifiably ripping the Flyers for their porous play-driving numbers yesterday, it’s only fair to recognize Sunday’s improvements. The Flyers lost the shot attempts battle in every period, but they graded out much better in terms of quality. The Flyers won the expected goals battle in the first two frames and overall, had 17 high-danger chances to Buffalo’s 13, and were even with 28 scoring chances aside. Philadelphia wasn’t picked apart at 5-on-5 the way they were on Saturday. So hey, they did clear that bar.
But in doing so, they also seemed to drop a different set of standards: their basic fundamentals. When the Flyers broke down on Sunday, they broke down bad. We’re talking multiple breakaways against, including at least two near breakaway passes that missed by a matter of inches. A way-too-passive penalty kill that continues to be among the league’s most ineffective offense. A completely stationary offense when up a man, both on the power-play and after pulling Felix Sandström late for an extra attacker. And perhaps their ugliest goal of the season, when a total nigthmare of a line change unfurled a red carpet for Anders Bjork to walk down and give Buffalo a late first-period lead, capping off a brutal sequence for Keith Yandle who got caught on the change moments after fanning on a golden rebound chance.
How does a team squander a very strong start (seven of the game’s first eight shots belonged to the Flyers) despite having solid play-driving numbers? Messing up the little things and man advantage scenarios. Philadelphia’s early lead courtesy of a Kevin Hayes goal was erased by a wide-open one-timer from Victor Olofsson that beat Sandström short-side. The Flyers did respond to the Bjork tally with a grity goal early in the second. But their penalty kill killed them again, with Olofsson doing the damage again. Tack on Tage Thompson manuvering to the slot way too easy for his third goal in two nights, and the Flyers were in need of a serious comeback push to have any sort of chance.
What they delivered was, uh, not that. In fact, it was easily their worst period of the game, as the Sabres collected over 56% of the shot attempts and expected goals. Another greasy goal, this one by Zack MacEwen, cut the lead to one with 5:53 remaining. But just when it looked like the Flyers might break through at 6-on-5, a Mattias Samuelsson shot block sprung Thompson for an easy empty-netter and another way too easy win for the Sabres. We’ve all known for a while that change is needed in Philadelphia. All this weekend proved is that change needs to be to an even greater degree than the already high level most people were anticipating before it.
With the victory, the Sabres now have a seven-game point streak (5-0-2) against the Flyers. It’s their longest against Philadelphia in franchise history.
Buffalo’s power-play played a massive role in their success against the Flyers this season. Their usual solid PP (11th in the league at 22%) was otherworldly against Philadelphia’s horrid PK, going a jaw-dropping 7 for 10. Olofsson and Thompson combined for five of them. Buffalos’ PK, meanwhile, went 10 for 11. The Flyers lost all three meetings to the Sabres, and they could’ve probably had at least four points if their special teams just broke even.
Tage Thompson will finish this season with five goals in three games against Philadelphia, the most he’s scored against any team this year.
Anders Bjork’s goal snapped a 27-game goal drought. His last goal was back on Dec. 14 against Winnipeg.
Finally, Mike Yeo gave an update on Ryan Ellis before the game. Granted, it was more of a non-update than anything, but still worth mentioning.
3rd: Kevin Hayes (PHI) – Goal (9), Assist (20), 4 Shots, 53.3% Faceoffs, 20:14 TOI
2nd: Dustin Tokarski (BUF) – .914 SV% (32 Saves/35 Shots), 3 GA on 3.99 Expected Goals Against (All Situations)
1st: Victor Olofsson (BUF) – 2 Goals (19, 20), 4 Shots
BUF: 4/21, 7 PM @ NJ (26-42-7, OTL1)
PHI: 4/19, 7 PM @ TOR (49-20-6, W2)
All Advanced Stats are 5-on-5 unless otherwise stated and via Natural Stat Trick
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