In what I’m hoping becomes a semi-regular series here at Evening the Score I will be taking a look at key events from previous games and breaking them down.
First on the docket: 1/7/17 Philadelphia Flyers vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
After losing five straight games, the Flyers were desperate for a win. Hakstol shuffled the lines, Michal Neuvirth was given the start, and the Flyers responded with their best game in weeks.
The Flyers were dominating in the shot department early but allowed the first goal due to a defensive breakdown. The collective groan from the home crowd at The Well could be heard all the way out here in the suburbs.
On that particular play, the Lightning produced a 2 on 1 breakaway with only two passes and a bad read by Shayne Gostisbehere.
Now while Gostisbehere deserves a majority of the blame for this event, the positioning of Boyd Gordon was also confusing. Why would he skate so aggressively towards the boards and TBL #89 instead of positioning himself near center ice to help with a potential breakout? He must have seen Shayne there at the blue line. Skate back and defend.
With the exception of the Gordon – Bellemare – VandeVelde line, the forward lines all played well. The Sean Couturier line that included Travis Konecny and Jakub Voracek were the most impressive, though. We saw a short glimpse of how good this line could be before Couturier got injured, but it seemed like they didn’t miss a beat after accounting for the Flyers’ first two goals yesterday.
The first goal was created by a whiff by a Tampa Bay defenseman that allowed Voracek to take off and deliver a beautiful saucer pass to Konecny who finished with a laser that nailed the goalie cam.
The Flyers’ second tally of the day was a greasy one as Couturier deposited the puck into the back of the net on a shot from the top of the far faceoff circle by Ivan Provorov.
Watching players move in the offensive zone without the puck is something I have taken a much greater interest in this year and Sean Couturier excels at it.
As soon as Jake retrieves the loose puck Couturier’s head is up looking to see where the puck is going. When he sees Jake pass to Ivan Provorov at the point, he slides towards the Tampa Bay goalie for a re-direction/screen. Neither Lightning defender notices Couts until it’s too late as he gathers the juicy rebound and scores. This line has the potential to be the most dangerous forward line Philadelphia can put out there. Both Voracek and Konecny can finish while Couturier has the vision and instincts to find either one of his linemates at any place on the ice. The data certainly supports the fact that this line is the Flyers’ most talented at driving play.
Next, I’ll be taking a look at the Columbus game from 1/8/17. Hopefully, when I slow down the video those highly questionable goalie interference calls won’t look so bad.
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Data courtesy of Corsica.hockey