Image c/o Amy Irvin (38 Photography)
Five times is most certainly not the charm.
The Flyers fell in the shootout for the fifth time this season as they once again came up short as they fell to the Florida Panthers 2-1 Thursday night. Dave Bolland notched the game winner in the sixth round of the shootout before Sean Couturier failed to score against Roberto Luongo.
The Flyers started off things awfully as they turned in one of their worst overall periods of the season. Lackluster skating and poor passing led to numerous chances for the Panthers. Scott Upshall got the scoring started after Tomas Kopecky fired a shot from the far shot that Upshall was able to redirect after Nick Schultz basically shoved Upshall towards Mason.
As Philadelphia began to even play up the later part of the first and early into the second, Jakub Voracek scored his 12th goal of the season to tie the game at the 4:07 mark, thanks to strong forechecking by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare that led to a Florida turnover deep in their zone.
An eventless third period led to the overtime session, where the Flyers had several scoring chances thwarted by the glove hand of Luongo. As the buzzer sounded, you could hear the collective groan of those in attendance, well-aware of the detrimental odds that lay ahead for the home team.
Things looked glum as Brandon Pirri got the shootout started with a score past Steve Mason. After misses by Vinny Lecavalier and Claude Giroux, Voracek was able to beat Luongo five hole to keep the Flyers hopes alive. Unfortunately,the Flyers whiffed on two chances to win the game before Bolland wrapped up the victory for the Panthers.
Mason was again strong for the Flyers, making 31 saves and allowing his team to not fall any further behind during their listless opening period. Luongo was equally as sharp as he turned away 26 shots, including several big ones in the overtime session.
Philadelphia closed out their four game homestand at 2-1-1, somewhat disappointing after starting with two strong wins. The Flyers desperately need to rack up as many points as they can to keep any postseason ambitions they may have alive and taking both points would have been a nice boost before the Flyers embark on their annual holiday road trip to close out 2014.
While it’s not secret over the Flyers’ shootout struggles recently, historically, always, etc., it’s mind-boggling that this team has gotten worse despite giving attention to the skills competition during their practices. This is the tenth consecutive shootout loss for the team, which means 10 possible points have been loss. In a league where a couple of points means make or break for the playoffs, the Flyers are in no position to give those points away so easily.
Lecavalier’s return uninspiring
After sitting out the last seven games as a healthy scratch, Vinny Lecavalier’s return to the lineup was forgettable. A couple of nice passes to unsuccessfully handled by Zac Rinaldo was really the highlight of his night. The former all-star played only 11:48 and turned in zero shots as he played on the fourth line.
Flyers were thoroughly dominated early, starting the game at one point down 16-4 in shot attempts at even strength. Florida ultimately won the Corsi battle 58-51, but the Flyers did have the edge after that horrid start. Wayne Simmonds and Scott Laughton were the team’s best possession players at 62 and 57 CorsiFor percent. Lecavalier was the worst at 28% joined surprisingly by Couturier with 30 CF%. The caveat? Couturier was against Florida’s top line all night. Vinny was not.
You have to respect what the Panthers have done this year so far. After a terrible season in 2013-14, Florida has jumped out to a 14-8-8 start and in playoff position. The Panthers are also a top 15 possession team and are only going to get improve going forward.
He’s not Bud…
He’s Voracek. He’s awesome.