— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) October 9, 2015
It was not that long ago that the Flyers were a very painful team to watch. Last season when the Flyers lost, it seemed to take them forever to do it. We were cursed with a team that didn’t look like they knew how to play hockey at the NHL level. The biggest problems we faced were speed and an inability to get opponents out of our zone. This season there have been minimal personnel changes, but the difference in Dave Hakstol’s system is blatantly obvious. They’re learning a completely new system, so not all the kinks are worked out, but the team looked impressive against the league favorite to win the Eastern Conference.
Two players who are under extreme pressure to perform this season had fantastic nights. Matt Read and Brayden Schenn both had a goal showing off the secondary scoring that the Flyers will rely on. Even more impressive may have been the fact that R.J.Umberger had an assist on both goals. This is the energy that we’ve wanted to see for the past three seasons that just hasn’t been there.
All of the scoring came in the second period sandwiched between two periods of shutting down the Lightning and, more importantly, Steven Stamkos. The first and third periods were full of gritty Flyers hockey; new Flyers hockey. It’s really saying something about Hakstol’s system that I can’t really remember most of the time that the Lightning spent in the Flyers offensive zone. There was a lot of Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds battling hard in the corners to protect the puck. There was a lot of Luke Schenn getting physical with forwards that were crowding Mason. There was a lot of offensive pressure on the Lightning that caused turnovers and forced them to dump and chase. There were a lot of good things. It was fun to watch, which the Flyers haven’t been in a while.
The first Flyers goal came from the 3rd line of Matt Read, Scott Laughton, and R.J. Umberger. Matt Read had a weak zone entry after being taken off the puck. Scott Laughton lifted a Tampa Bay stick which allowed Read to poke it deeper. No one really had control and Umberger cut across the zone to poke it to Laughton who was barely table to direct the wobbling puck back to Read who slipped the puck under Bishop’s leg. It was a kind of controlled chaos that’s fun to watch. It was exciting and it tied the game up. It also showed that Umberger recovered at least a little bit of the speed that Hextall traded for. (Umberger was supposed to be a cheaper faster version of Hartnell)
Then the Flyers took their first lead. The power play has been one of the Flyers strong points and it is expected to be just as effective this season. They got a chance to show it off early this season when Brayden Schenn scored a power-play goal to give the Flyers their first lead of the season. Newly acquired Evgeny Medvedev put a point shot right on Bishop’s pads, a level of accuracy we’re not used to seeing. Umberger, who was providing a decent screen then poked it away to a waiting Schenn who flipped it over Bishop’s leg.
Unfortunately, the Lightning managed to tie it up thanks to their own power play goal from Ryan Callahan. Which then forced the first ever 3-on-3 overtime in the NHL.
Now, we got a taste of the 3-on-3 OT in the preseason and it wasn’t all that great. Based on those few preseason games I wasn’t too excited for the overtime. Oh how wrong I was to doubt it. The amount of open ice allowed for such a fast paced, exciting few minutes that I’m still a little tired from just watching it. At this point, I don’t think it needs to be said that Steve Mason was the star of the game. There were so many breakaways that could have ended the game, but Mason gave the Flyers the chance to keep the OT going. Scott Laughton had a chance to make a serious impact when he was given a penalty shot in the overtime, but couldn’t get it past Bishop.
With around 3 minutes left in the overtime, Lightning defender Jason Garrison broke away after Jake Voracek Couldn’t manage to poke the puck past Bishop. Medvedev got caught up pushing the two other lightning players into each other against the boards and all three Flyers were caught on one side of the ice. Garrison sped by and slipped the puck under a sliding Mason.
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) October 9, 2015
//platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsOverall the loss wasn’t horrible and there were a lot of positives to pull out of the game. We got one point and a solid foundation to build on. If anything this season will be exciting to watch even if they do lose a lot.
Claude Giroux also had a penalty shot. After a few dekes, Giroux seemed to have Bishop beat, but the Tampa Bay goalie’s freakish height was an advantage. Bishop’s stick caught Giroux’s and made him fan on the shot.
The Flyers are ahead of the Penguins in the standings! A fact that I had to mention because it was brought up on twitter.//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js