Photo by Amy Irvin/38 Photography
The Flyers lost their 5th game in a row tonight by a score of 4 to 2 in Edmonton. After a relatively encouraging effort in Vancouver on Monday, this one was a completely different story. The Oilers controlled play for almost the entire game as Michal Neuvirth frankly made a competitive hockey game out of a blowout. The Flyers nearly pulled one out of a hat, but poor defensive zone and neutral zone play finally caught up to them late in the game.
The Flyers have been consistently doing a lot of things very poorly over the past four games. All of those things were prominently on display during a first period that came up just short of disastrous. Poor neutral zone play, extremely poor defensive zone play and consistent defensive breakdowns allowed the Oilers to finish the period with an absurd 19-2 lead in the shots column. Somehow they only led by one on the scoreboard, with the lone goal coming on the power play after a late double minor from Brandon Manning.
Philadelphia was extremely fortunate to enter the second behind by just one, and they took advantage of that good fortune by quickly equalizing things early on. Scott Laughton put home a rebound after a Matt Read shot, and somehow the Flyers had things knotted at one. A much better period followed, as the Flyers at least slowed the bleeding and spent some time on the attack. Good fortune continued when a Ryan White shot from the circle found it’s way past Nilsson and put Philadelphia up 2-1. Despite a 36-15 shot deficit, they would maintain that lead until the horn sounded on the second.
The big story after the second was Oilers star rookie Connor McDavid leaving the game after a collision with the boards. McDavid lost an edge and then appeared to collide with Brandon Manning before going into the boards awkwardly. He came up holding his left shoulder, and was seen during intermission with his arm in a sling. Certainly a very unfortunate event. Oilers coach Todd McLellan told reporters after the game that McDavid will be out long term, and that’s a real shame.
McDavid’s absence, however, did not stop the Oilers from both tying the game and taking the lead midway through the third period. After Michal Neuvirth once again stood on his head to preserve the Flyers lead, a strange bounce off the boards have Matt Hendricks a wide open net to shoot at. Less than two minutes later, a Taylor Hall shot deflected off of Michael Del Zotto and found it’s way past Neuvirth. A couple decent Flyers chances were turned away by Nilsson down the stretch before Ryan Nugent-Hopkins iced it with an empty netter in the final minute.
This was an extremely disappointing effort for a team that needed exactly the opposite. The Flyers will have a welcome day off before Thursday night’s contest in Calgary. Some more observations below:
- I don’t believe that laziness or effort level have played any part in the Flyers’ recent struggles. I do, however, believe that laziness played a part in the Oilers’ first goal tonight. After a beauty of a save by Michal Neuvirth with time winding down in the period, several Flyers seemingly stood flatfooted and stared at the puck while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins collected it and scored. That one was completely unacceptable.
- Man, Michal Neuvirth really deserved this one. The 27 year old Czech turned away 45 Oilers shots and kept the Flyers in the game significantly longer than they deserved to be in it.
- Matt Read looked pretty decent again tonight. He has literally been the only positive over the past couple of games. So there’s that.
- Last night, it was Brandon Manning and Nick Schultz who were responsible for most of the bad defensive breakdowns. Tonight was more of a team effort. The entire unit made visible mistakes throughout the night. Absolutely disastrous performance.
- The power play, despite being kept off the scoreboard, has looked pretty decent thus far. Tonight was an exception to that. The Flyers had trouble entering the zone and establishing possession on their two attempts. Meanwhile, the penalty kill unit gave up yet another goal. Like I said last night, the Flyers will not win too many games if they are routinely losing the special teams battle.
- While Connor McDavid was in the game, he was having an absolute field day with the Flyers’ defensive unit. He created several chances by simply blowing past defenders, and his injury occurred after he made Brandon Manning look like an anesthetized sloth while headed towards the goal.