Photo by Amy Irvin/38 Photography
The Flyers entered Vancouver on Monday night looking to right the ship after a week of disappointing efforts against mediocre teams. While they were much more competitive during this late night contest, repetitive defensive mistakes eventually did them in as they lost 4-1 to the Vancouver Canucks.
The first six or seven minutes looked a lot like the previous three games did, with sloppy defensive zone play leading to extended attack time for the opponent. It did not take long for the Canucks to capitalize, as Jannik Hansen scored less than two minutes in to give Vancouver the early lead. While they maintained this lead through the end of the period, the Flyers eventually regrouped and spent most of the second half of the period on the attack.
Although the Flyers were not rewarded for their efforts in the first, it did not take long for them to strike in the second. A beautiful Jakub Voracek pass to Claude Giroux enabled the captain to power past Matt Bartkowski and put a great move on Ryan Miller to tie the game. The Flyers stayed on the attack until a questionable call sent both Daniel Sedin and Claude Giroux to the box for offsetting minors. The Canucks quickly drew blood during the resulting 4 on 4 when a Nick Schultz screen allowed Bo Horvat’s nice individual effort to find twine.
Entering the period down 2-1 , the Flyers generated some pressure early on during the third, but could not beat Ryan Miller. With about 12 minutes remaining, a bad pinch from Brandon Manning led to an odd man rush for Vancouver and a Jake Virtanen goal. The Flyers did not recover from that goal and allowed Vancouver to control play from there on out. A Matt Bartkowski empty netter would seal the 4-1 win for Vancouver and the 3rd straight regulation loss for the Flyers.
Overall, this was probably the Flyers’ best game since their last win. However, they continued to give up high quality chances as a result of defensive mistakes, and they ended up paying for it tonight. They’ll need a short memory in order to get back in the win column tomorrow night in Edmonton. Some more observations:
-Nick Schultz made several very visible mistakes tonight, but it’s still improbable that he ends up getting benched. This is thanks in part to Brandon Manning, who made several very questionable and visible mistakes of his own tonight. On two separate occasions, Manning pinched in the offensive zone at inopportune times, leading to a 2 on 1 the other way. The second one iced the game for Vancouver.
-The Matt Read/Scott Laughton/Wayne Simmonds line was fantastic in the offensive zone tonight. Relentless forechecking, especially from Laughton, led to several quality chances that the Flyers never should have had. The speed of both Laughton and Read was on display frequently tonight.
-That Claude Giroux goal. Phew.
-I won’t go crazy quite yet about Evgeny Medvedev being benched, but that can’t happen again. It isn’t really up for debate that he has been one of their best 3 or 4 defensemen thus far. The Flyers have struggled mightily with shot suppression, and Medvedev is quite possibly their strongest defender in that regard. One game is not a huge deal, especially for a first year NHLer, but it is a mistake from Dave Hakstol. He gets some of the blame for this loss.
-While the Flyers controlled possession for long stretches of this game, certain sequences left you wondering how they didn’t lose by more. There were simply way too many mistakes made in the neutral and defensive zones tonight.
-The power play did not look terrible once again and also did not produce. Simply put, this team won’t win too many games without getting production from the power play. It’ll start clicking at some point, but it has really hurt the Flyers over the last four games.