Photo by Amy Irvin/38 Photography
Given the strengths and weaknesses of this Flyers roster, it’s no secret that they will really need to be able to rely on both goaltending and special teams if they want to win consistently. With the Flyers looking to break a 6 game losing streak, both Michal Neuvirth and the power play rose to the occasion and drove the Flyers to a 3-0 win in Winnipeg. Neuvirth gained his league-leading 3rd shutout of the season in the win.
The first period was the best opening stanza that they Flyers have played in a while. They hung with the red hot Jets for the majority of the period, played well in the neutral zone and executed on special teams with a Brayden Schenn power play goal. There were certainly still some quality chances for Winnipeg, but Michal Neuvirth was consistently up to the task, making several impressive glove saves to keep the Jets off the board.
The second period was surprisingly a low event effort that was dominated by physical play from both teams. For a Flyers team that has been giving up absurd numbers of shots, the tighter play was certainly welcome. Neuvirth started the period right off with a spectacular save on Nikolaj Ehlers to preserve the 1-0 lead. His play did not drop off at all as the period went on, allowing him to turn away all 6 Winnipeg shots during the stanza.
The third period was yet again driven by strong play from both Neuvirth and the Flyers’ power play. Dave Hakstol’s Flyers probably backed off a bit more than what would have been ideal, but once again Neuvirth was rock solid behind them. Roughly half way through the period, a Wayne Simmonds power play goal would give the Flyers some insurance. That insurance turned out to be unnecessary, as Neuvirth continued to be absolutely dominant in finishing off the shutout. Even in the closing minute up by three goals, Neuvirth made a couple impressive stops to keep the sheet clean and close out the win for Philadelphia.
We knew that the Flyers were not going to frequently win by dominating teams at even strength. These are the types of wins that they will simply need to pick up if they want to be competitive. The Flyers kept things close at 5v5 tonight and allowed their strengths to carry them to the win. They’ll look to put two wins together on Tuesday night against a struggling Colorado team. Some more observations:
-Way too obvious here, but Michal Neuvirth is definitely the reason that the Flyers pulled this one out. Philadelphia was both outshot and outchanced tonight, especially at even strength. Man it is nice to be able to rely on a backup goaltender. You’ve gotta think that during past years, they might have at least considered playing an ill Steve Mason over a lesser backup option.
-It was good to see Matt Read grab the empty-netter at the end there. He has really been a strong point for the Flyers during this road trip.
-The Sean Couturier line that features Read and Wayne Simmonds was the Flyers’ best line at even strength tonight. They were strong defensively and spent a lot of time in the offensive zone. Dave Hakstol picked up on this; The trio had more ice time at even strength than any other Flyers line. Great to have Couturier back.
-While the Flyers weren’t great at even strength tonight, they did do a better job playing in the neutral zone against a tough Jets team. It’s good to see them not getting completely shelled for once.
-One strange thing from tonight: Michael Raffl only played 10:36. Only the fourth line trio of Laughton, Gagner and Umberger played less. Not sure exactly what’s going on there, but it’s a bit of a head scratcher.
-Nick Schultz led the Flyers in CF% at even strength tonight. Tell your family that you love them, as the world might be coming to an end.