Photo by Amy Irvin/38 Photography
The Flyers were BITTEN (ha ha) by the Sharks in overtime tonight by a score of 1-0. Although Philadelphia was undoubtedly the better team for most of the night, they were unable to snatch a victory from the JAWS (ha ha) of defeat, ultimately losing the extra point on a Melker Karlsson overtime goal. Steve Mason made 20 saves in the loss, but the Flyers were FIN-ished (ha ha) off after the final shot went in.
If the Flyers were looking to build upon their decent play from the last two outings, they certainly did not do so over the first several minutes of the game. Seven minutes passed by before they were able to register their first shot attempt. Philadelphia did eventually settle in and generate some chances, thanks especially to some great cycle work by the Claude Giroux/Jakub Voracek line. Possibly the best chance of the period came when Shayne Gostisbehere made a dynamite breakout pass to Michael Raffl, who was stopped by Martin Jones.
After the Flyers gained some momentum during the closing minutes of the first, they did a good job carrying that through into the second stanza. Driven by a great effort from Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, the Flyers outshot the Sharks 12-4 in the second and narrowly missed several quality chances. The Sean Couturier line spent almost all of their ice time against Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, admirably forcing most of the play into their offensive zone. Despite these efforts, the period ended with a blank scoreboard yet again.
The third period was a lot more of the same in every regard. The Couturier line started it off with a full shift spent inside the Sharks’ zone, and the Flyers did not really look back at all. San Jose was able to muster up just four shots in the period while the Martin Jones turned away nine from Philadelphia. Dave Hakstol cycled three lines for most of the period: The Giroux line, the Couturier line, and the fourth line of Raffl, Bellemare and Vandevelde.
After the Flyers began overtime by killing the remaining 1:42 on a late Wayne Simmonds minor, they immediately generated a few quality chances. Unfortunately they would be victimized by a Melker Karlsson goal on a two on one that took hold when Michael Del Zotto got a bit too aggressive in the defensive zone.
We saw a lot of encouraging things tonight in a game that the Flyers definitely deserved to win. Here are a few more observations.
-Two things really stood out as the game went on. The first one was Dave Hakstol’s reliance on the fourth line. With Michael Raffl joining Bellemare and Vandevelde in Ryan White’s absence, the trio played roughly 13 minutes each at even strength, all ending up as positives on the possession chart. Michael Raffl definitely belongs higher up in the lineup, but it was a much more balanced Flyers team tonight. It’s been a while since the Flyers have had three reliable lines.
-The other one: The Flyers actually suppressed shots well tonight. After a fairly sloppy opening 6 or 7 minutes, Philadelphia allowed just 9 shots over the final two periods. Another thing that we really haven’t seen in a while. I’d certainly welcome more of it.
-Sean Couturier’s line did a great job neutralizing the Joe Thornton line tonight. In 13 minutes of even strength time against Thornton, Couturier was +10 in shot attempts. His line with Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds worked the cycle very well in the offensive zone. Great stuff.
-Shayne Gostisbehere could really take the power play to the next level. Mark Streit is a good PP quarterback, but Ghost requires constant attention from the shorthanded team. The result is that less attention can be given to Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. This showed fairly clearly during the first power play, as Gostisbehere was able to find a wide open Voracek twice for quality chances.
-Fun With Small Samples™: In his three games, Gostisbehere has a higher shot attempt rate and shot attempt percentage than any other Flyers player.