Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR5) Gm 4: PHI 2, FLA 4 – The Meter
It doesn’t take a genius to see where the meter was going into today — and where it’s shifted to. For the first time this season, the Philadelphia Flyers lose, 4-2, to the Florida Panthers. The team’s first defeat of the year was always inevitable, and it was impressive it took this long to happen. The Flyers were facing the reigning President’s Trophy winners on the second half of a back-to-back with their backup goalie making just his sixth NHL start. That’s not exactly a winning formula.
And when the Flyers fell behind 2-0, it really didn’t shape up to be a winning formula. The Panthers jumped in front of a pair of early goals from Carter Verhaeghe, with a Travis Konecny tally called back in between. Even though Philadelphia had successfully erased 2-0 deficits before, this hill felt much steepeer. Sure, Florida was without their two best defensemen in Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour. But considering the Panthers were one of the league’s most dominant offenses last season, it felt like this was the type of game that could get out of hand — fast.
And… it didn’t. Felix Sandström, who quietly played very well last season despite only appearing in five games (and losing all of them), held the fort and then some. Florida absolutely domianted the middle stanza, recording Corsi For and expected goals percentages over 80%. But Sandström stopped all 12 of their shots, keeping the Flyers within one after a goal from Nick Seeler of all people cut the lead in half late in the first. The Panthers, meanwhile, fell into a bad habit of taking penalties. And although they looked just as dangerous on some of Philadelphia’s power-plays as the Flyers, James van Riesmdyk squeaked one through his old teammate Sergei Bobrovsky to even the score.
There stood the Flyers, 20 minutes away (or more) from a 4-0-0 start to their season. But the push that put the Panthers ahead was a long time coming. The Flyers have been outplayed at 5-on-5 basically since the middle of their season opener. They were outshot 38-24 by the Lightning and lost the xG battle heavily in both that game and their prior contest against Vancouver. The Flyers had either two choices — start playing better or eventually suffer the consequences. And while it’s fair to question if the former will ever come to pass this season, the circumstances weren’t in their favor on Wednesday.
That being said, the game slipped away in especially frustrating fashion. Florida took the lead for good on a seemingly slow-motion breakdown by Egor Zamula, who lost Rudolfs Balcers as he darted to the net and beat Sandström with a nasty backhander. The rookie goaltender couldn’t maintain his strong form forever, giving up a stoppable goal to Josh Mahura just over five minutes later. Score effects took over from there, as the Flyers outshot Florida 14-2 from there. But some big saves from Bobrovsky kept the Flyers from breaking through until it was too little too late. Konecny got a goal for good, but only with three seconds remaining — hardly enough time to complete another two-goal rally.
It’s easy for Flyers fans to sway back to the distraught side of the “unofficial Philadelphia sports mode” meter, if only because they were never truly cocky. However, the team did some good things tonight. Sandström and some of the youngsters showed some more progress. The team didn’t let the game unravel, like so many did a season ago. While many Philadelphia seasons are defined by which side of the meter they fall on, the 2022-23 Flyers are probably aiming for a better feat — to fall in the middle. They almost certainly don’t have the talent to reach fully cockiness. And after the last two seasons, the organization is sick and tired of being distraught. Through one week, the Flyers are hanging tight. But they’ll need to step their game up — other than between the pipes — not to fall off.
The Flyers made another roster move before Wednesday’s contest, claiming right winger Lukáš Sedlák off waivers from Colorado. Sedlák has spent the last few seasons playing in the KHL, scoring 43 points in 49 games for Traktor Chelyabinsk last season. Sedlák, 29, played 162 games under John Tortorella for Columbus from 2016-2019. Olle Lycksell was sent back to the Phantoms as a result.
Going 1/6 in the power play isn’t a great night percentage-wise. However, the Flyers have accomplished something they didn’t do last season — score a power-play goal in four straight games. In fact, Philadelphia didn’t even manage to tally a PPG in three consecutive games at all in 2021-22.
Last season, the Flyers managed just eight come-from-behind victories, the fewest in the NHL. Through four games, it sure seems likely they’ll best that feat by quite a bit — half because they’ll trail a lot, half because they have the resilience to erase quite a few of those deficits.
With the loss, Tortorella failed to tie Paul Holmgren for most consecutive wins to begin their Flyers coaching career. Holmgren started the 1988-89 season 4-0-0.
3rd: Matthew Tkachuk (FLA) – 2 Assists (3, 4), 4 SOG
2nd: Rudolfs Balcers (FLA) – Goal (1)
1st: Carter Verhaeghe (FLA) – 2 Goals (1, 2), 4 SOG
PHI: 10/21, 8 PM @ NSH (2-2-1)
FLA: 10/21, 7 PM vs. TB (1-3-0)
All Advanced Stats are 5v5 and via Natural Stat Trick unless otherwise stated