After getting their 3 game winning streak snapped by the Nashville Predators, the Flyers looked to get back in the win column against the 3rd worst team in the league, the Arizona Coyotes. There was only one minor roster change today which involved Rob Zepp being sent to the Phantoms as Steve Mason made his return.
The game started with 3 icings by the Flyers in just a little over 2 minutes into the game. One of the recent trends in games would continue as the Flyers 4th line of VandeVelde, Bellemare, and Lecavalier had the best offensive chances in the first period. Lecavalier would end the period leading both teams with 5 shots, which he got in only 3:41 of ice time. The Coyotes struck first as Shane Doan took a slap shot from the right side of the ice, above the slot that hit Nicklas Grossmann’s blade and then changed direction again as it hit Antoine Vermette making the puck deflect down and fool Mason. With six seconds remaining, R.J. Umberger would take a high-sticking penalty that forces the Flyers to start the 2nd period on the penalty kill.
The Flyers, who came into the game with one of the worst penalty kills in the league (74.4%), were able to survive with some great pressure from Sean Couturier and Matt Read. After out-shooting the Coyotes 14-6 in the first period, the Flyers came out flat in the second. They had zero shots in the first eight minutes of the period, before VandeVelde finally put a shot on goal with just a little over eleven minutes left. The Coyotes strike again to increase their lead to 2-0, as Vermette had an open net to tap in the rebound off of a point shot. The only Flyers line to put up consistent offensive pressure was the 4th line, and even that line had at least 2 major defensive zone turnovers that almost lead to goals. They would end the period being out-shot 9-5 in the period, yet still having a 19-15 lead in the game.
Going into the third the Flyers would need to have another 3rd period comeback against a very good team when they have the lead (6-1-2 when leading after 40 minutes). Just 2 minutes into the period, a defensive breakdown forced Laughton to take a penalty which gave the Coyotes their 2nd power play of the game. Quickly a 2 goal lead became 3 as Oliver Ekman-Larsson took a wrist shot on the rush that hits Bellemare and beats Mason up high. Just a little over six minutes into the period, the Flyers got their first chance on power play, which of course was unsuccessful with 0 shots on goal and 4 turnovers. They really killed their own power play themselves between Voracek’s two missed shots that left the offensive zone, and the turnovers that lead to the Coyotes clearing their zone. Devan Dubnyk would not however get a shutout as Mark Streit fooled two Coyotes forwards and set up a wide open Umberger for an easy goal making it 3-1. The Flyers got their 2nd power play of the game with about seven minutes left in the game when Moss went off for goalie interference. Both power play units worked play after play to a tee which lead to Umberger’s 2nd goal of the game just as the power play came to an end when he redirected Sean Couturier’s shot past Dubnyk. Umberger cut the 3 goal lead down to a 1 goal lead for Arizona with a bit under five minutes to play. With 1:40 left, Berube pulls Mason for the extra attacker. Almost instantly, the Flyers lose the puck and Streit saves an empty net goal after the Coyotes we unable to score on at least 4 shot chances at an empty net. Devan Dubnyk saves the one goal lead with a outstanding save on a Lecavalier one-timer set up by Giroux. Eventually Vermette got the empty netter to complete the hat trick (for now, unless the first goal is changed to Doan) and seal the game 4-2 for Arizona. Voracek and Giroux had an awful night (-3 each) of being tightly checked by the defensive pair of Yandle and Ekman-Larsson, who got great help from centers Vermette and Hanzal. Umberger’s two goals won’t matter too much after this game but a valiant effort by the checking line to provide some offense that the Flyers lacked all game. The Flyers lose 2 straight games and drop to 14-16-6 on the season and 3-2-0 on the 8-game road trip. With Berube already hinting at Del Zotto returning the lineup, you have to expect it will be sooner rather than later now that the offense has been hard to come by over the past 2 games. The good news of this game was Vinny Lecavalier’s play throughout the entire game was very impressive. The bad news of this game was Vinny Lecavalier was our most dangerous player. I think we’re gonna see MDZ re-enter the lineup soon, and maybe he can provide some offensive spark this team needs. Big chances to pick up points against teams like Colorado, Carolina, and New Jersey to end this road trip. How many losses before the all-star break is too many to catch up to a playoff spot? If you ask me, I’d say you really can’t be any higher than 20 regulation losses by then and expect to catch up.
Besides inconsistency, what’s the biggest problem you see when watching this team?
EDIT: After the game they changed Vermette’s first goal and gave credit back to Shane Doan. No hat trick.