Photo via Amy Irvin/38 Photography
Discussion about Flyers small-yet-still-alive playoff chances has emphasized the fact that the Flyers have a pretty easy stretch of games during February. Hope was that the Flyers would take care of business against weaker opponents like the Blue Jackets, who currently rank 26th in the league in terms of Score Adjusted Fenwick%.
Well, the Flyers did exactly the opposite of dominate tonight. The Blue Jackets controlled play for a large portion of the last two periods, and the Flyers got exactly the result that they deserved.
Driven by strong play from the newly formed Simmonds-Couturier-Read line, the Flyers jumped out to a 2-1 lead in the second period. The only reason that this lead held through two was because of excellent goaltending from Ray Emery during large stretches of sustained pressure from the Blue Jackets.
The lead was stretched to 3-1 after a Wayne Simmonds power play goal, but things went downhill quickly after that. Two very similar Jackets goals, both of which were characterized by poor defensive play by the Flyers, knotted the game at 3 and sent it to overtime.
Yet another poor defensive play in overtime led to an Artem Anisimov game winner, leaving the Flyers with a really empty loser point in a 4-3 Jackets win.
With the Flyers playoff hopes as dire as they are, these are the kind of games that really need to produce two points if they intend on having any chance at making it. Ray Emery was great during several stretches of poor play in front of him, and the Flyers had a two goal lead against a bad team in the third period. Yes, the team has gotten points in eight straight, and that is good to see. The bottom line is that they’ve gotta get two points out of this one, and they didn’t play well enough to do that tonight.
-Andrew MacDonald was a scratch tonight due to the death of his Grandmother, making way for Carlo Colaiacovo to reenter the lineup. Sam Carchidi reported that Nick Schultz would have sat in his place if MacDonald would have gone tonight. Interesting.
-Ray Emery was good in this game, especially during the second period. For the second straight game, the Flyers entered the third period with a lead that they didn’t necessarily deserve. Shame the Flyers couldn’t hold on to win either of them. Emery’s SV% of .880 didn’t reflect his level of play, and it’s really difficult to blame him for any of the goals against tonight.
-It really is nice to see Sean Couturier playing with a (healthier by the day) Matt Read and a legitimate winger in Wayne Simmonds. Those three produced both of the Flyers first two goals tonight and had several other chances.
-Nick Grossmann was himself tonight. So, not good. He was caught in a bad spot on the Jackets’ second goal, and just generally spent a lot of time in the defensive zone.
-Sam Carchidi tweeted during the game that Michael Raffl could potentially be back next game. This would be a welcome return for the Flyers. Brayden Schenn had an alright game tonight, but generally hasn’t looked great during his stint on the top line. He just doesn’t seem to be on the same page as Giroux and Voracek.
-The Blue Jackets made it known that they have bad opinions about things tonight. Pretty disappointing.