The Flyers loss to the Washington Capitals on Thursday night had a lot of the same issues that we’ve become used to seeing from this team; bad defense, scoring struggles, and a collapse from the whole team once they were in a deficit. There was one bright spot to the game, though, instead of waiting until the last ten minutes of the game to start competing, the Flyers actually played better at the beginning of the game.
Tuesday’s shutout loss to the Avalanche earned the team some harsh practice time and a call out from Ron Hextall.
“There are nights where it’s hard to go out there and play,” Hextall said. “You don’t feel good, you’re traveling and tired, whatever it is … You know what? Too bad. You gotta go out there and you’ve got to play your ass off.” – Randy Miller, Nov 12, 2015
So you kind of expected the boys to come out firing on all cylinders Thursday night. Ryan White might have been the Flyers best player at the start of the game. White caused the Capitals to hurry the play behind the net and immediately got in front to screen Holtby while VandeVelde stole the puck and passed to an open Scott Laughton who snapped it past the net minder for the first goal and the Flyers first lead.
Washington tied the game with a beautiful pass play by Evgeny Kuznetzov who was going behind the Flyers goal as he slid a pass back where he had come from, between Streit’s legs to a wide open T.J. Oshie who put the puck past Mason who was caught in the middle of the net because he was already moving, expecting Kuznetzov to attempt a wrap around. It was a goal that you could only watch and appreciate, it was too good to be mad at.
If the powerplay weren’t so weak, the Flyers may have tied or even won this game. Halfway through the 1st period, the Flyers got back-to-back-to-back power plays and failed to convert on any of them. The Flyers have struggled to put shots on the net, especially during power plays. Despite instances where they are able to controll the play for large chunks of time (which was not last night), they seem reluctant to shoot the puck and spend a lot of time passing back and forth.
The Flyers only had 2 power play shots the whole game.Hopefully after last night, the Flyers are learning that passing isn’t’ always the best move. They started the 2nd period with a power play and Claude Giroux capitalized on it with a shot from the top of the faceoff circle.
The things started to fall apart. With a 2-1 lead, Michael Raffl was called for cross checking and the Flyers went tothe penalty kill. A defensive lapse by Nick Schultz left Jason Chimera wide open heading toward the net. He recieved a pass from Kuznetsov and easily put the puck over Mason’s shoulder. And from there, the Flyers never really looked the same.
Backstrom finished the scoring for the Caps and put the final nail in the coffin of what started out like a good night for Flyers hockey.
“We came out and we had a good start, we competed hard through the night, but you make some mistakes against that team and it ends up in the back of your net, and they took advantage of that,” Hakstol said. Flyers.nhl.com
History was almost written against the Flyers when Ovechkin scored on the power play to give him his 484th career goal. The goal was overturned when Hakstol used his first coaches challenge of the season. The replay showed that Justin Williams was offside before Chimera carried the puck into the net and Ovechkin had a goal take away from him for the second time in two games; both were overturned because Justin Williams was offsides.
“I think I’m up for the Selke Trophy; I’m shutting Ovi down pretty good right now,” Williams joked with media members after the game. “Two disallowed goals because of me. I want him to get it at home anyway, so that was the reason.”
The Flyers finished the game with a season low 20 shots on goal.
The coaches have seemingly exhausted all their options to get this team motivated. Harder practices don’t work, players only meetings aren’t enough to spark something in them and being called out by the general manager seemed to have no effect either. So where can they go from here? Assuming that they’re plan isn’t to tank, Hextall’s next logical move is a shake up. We may see a trade sometime soon, it could be someting small or something as big as a Wayne Simmonds trade.
Hextall stepped around the question when asked by media on Thursday saying only “I’m not going to share that with you.” We could see something, we could see nothing.