Flyers-Penguins: Postgame Review
For nearly 30 minutes, this was a classic battle between two rivals with chances being turned aside left and right. In a matter of four minutes, it was game over for the Flyers.
It took 3:51 for the Penguins to score four goals and essentially put the beatdown on the Flyers in their first game of 2018.
Let's jump right in with our Postgame Review.
- An Off Night - A lot of the Flyers success in the last month has been from great performances by Brian Elliott and Ivan Provorov. Both Provorov and Elliott played one of their worst games of the season on Tuesday night.
It happens to the best players, so this isn't a huge condemnation on them, but it shows how much the Flyers as a whole have leaned on these two players.
Provorov was on the ice for four of the five Pittsburgh goals and lost position and puck battles in the process of a couple of them. Elliott should have stopped the first Pittsburgh goal and just didn't look like the consistent goalie that showed in December during that second period.
Like I said, everybody has an off night, and this proved to be a bad time for one of those to pop up for the Flyers two most valuable players to their recent winning ways.
- Defensive Breakdowns - Provorov was a part of a couple breakdowns on a couple of goals that didn't help. This was most evident on Ryan Reaves goal.
Provorov loses the puck battle behind the net and then lets Reaves get inside positioning in front of the net and never recovered.
Provorov also failed to get the puck away from Tom Kuhnhackl on the Penguins fourth goal. He was also on the ice for both power-play goals by the Penguins. The first was just the result of a nice passing play. The second, well, Provorov was basically playing on one leg after blocking a shot. Luckily for the Flyers, he returned to the game late.
And then there was Conor Sheary's goal. Both Andrew MacDonald and Robert Hagg end up on the same side of the ice.
This one falls on Hagg, who starts to jump up in the offensive zone and leaves the left point completely exposed. The Flyers end up with one forward in deep, two forwards on the left boards out of the play and MacDonald is left trying to make up for Hagg's mistake. Sheary's breakaway speed is too much for MacDonald and the puck ends up in the net off a completely avoidable mistake.
- Not So Special Teams - The game wasn't decided completely by special teams, but it could have been a lot different if the Flyers could have somewhat replicated their performance from Friday on special teams.
In short, the Penguins scored on both of their power-play chances. The Flyers were 0-for-4 on the power play.
But the Flyers never really got much going on the power play for that matter. The Flyers had a chance to make a game of things again with a power play late in the second period and another one in the first 10 minutes of the third. They never really generated much, and the one close call they had was a bounce that didn't go their way, a point shot by Shayne Gostisbehere deflected by Wayne Simmonds that hit the inside of the post and rebounded through the crease on the way out.
- Odd-Man Rushes - Here's another spot where the Flyers missed opportunity. And this is hardly a new problem.
Both teams had their share of odd-man rushes during the game. But every time the Flyers started to generate numbers, they continued to look for the extra pass or try to force the puck to the open man when there wasn't a clear lane.
The Flyers had four fairly clean odd-man rushes that developed off of quick transitions or turnovers. They may have managed one shot on goal out of the four.
It happens far too often with this team. A two-on-one, a three-on-two, they always look pass and never just shoot the puck or try to make a play for a rebound. They always force the pass. And in a game like this, where mistakes will be few and far between from the opposition, when opportunity presents itself, you have to finish. And as has been the case many times this season already, the Flyers are lacking in the finishing department.
- A Little Motivation? - These kind of games bring out the worst in fan reactions sometimes. So the "Fire Hakstol" crowd started to pop up again as the Flyers crumbled against their rival.
In a game like this, you can see some merit for the reactions. The performance by the Flyers itself wasn't that bad. They played a strong first period and were holding momentum and control into the second period. But once the wheels started to come off, you saw how Dave Hakstol is outclassed by Mike Sullivan.
When Sheary scored the third Penguins goal, their third in a matter of 2:14 and second goal in 40 seconds, you'd like to see some sort of reaction, something that indicates motivation of some kind. It was a good spot to call a timeout. It wouldn't have been the wrong time to pull the trigger on a goalie change that ultimately came after the second period. There was nothing. And the Penguins scored again 1:37 later.
During the second intermission on NBCSN, Jeremy Roenick said he hoped the Flyers were getting an earful in the locker room. It's hard to picture Dave Hakstol doing anything to try to motivate this team following a period like that. It's just not his style. It hasn't been.
But it needed to be in this moment. Hakstol was labeled as a no-nonsense type of coach. This happens too regularly to assume that Hakstol is letting the players hear it in the locker room between periods.
The third period was really a strong example of the way one team is coached over the other. It was a 4-1 game. And the Penguins didn't let up for anything. The Flyers had chances too, but they were one-and-done chances or weak shot attempts that proved to be easy saves for Matt Murray. There wasn't a lot of quality to the Flyers play, even in a period where they held possession for the majority of the 20 minutes.
This is the style that made the Penguins champions for the past two seasons and that have the Flyers as an inconsistent bunch.