Flyers-Blue Jackets: Postgame Review
The Chuck Fletcher era for the Flyers started a lot like the last one ended. The Flyers never really got into a rhythm, fell behind, rallied, and then lost in overtime. Sound about right?
The Flyers did salvage a point out of this game against the much superior Columbus Blue Jackets, but it wasn't the type of performance that will keep the new GM from action.
Let's break it down in our Postgame Review.
- Travis Sanheim - This was a showcase for the young defenseman. Not that he has some offensive chops, but that he can be on the ice in a late-game situation and contribute.It's been a tough season for Sanheim. He's been solid and his possession numbers have been good, but it's clear he's the low guy on the totem pole. Perhaps finally the Flyers will start to give him more of a look in the third period during more critical situations.
Sanheim played a strong 200-foot game throughout, but let's get into the goals. The first was a beauty, finishing off the rush with a goal scorer's move. The second was just a great shot that went high over Sergei Bobrovsky. The Flyers have scored some ugly goals this season. Sanheim's first two don't fall into that category.
- Travis Konecny - There were about six minutes left in the game with the Flyers trailing by one after Sanheim's first goal. Konecny had set up both of the Flyers goals to that point in the night and was really the only player driving the play the way this team needs to. If it were possible, he should have played every second of the game from that point forward.Of course, that's not physically possible, but Konecny was that good and has been that good for much of the season. He's the catalyst that drives this team and really powers the first line. He's making the first line show potential of scoring. The other lines need a jolt to get going.
The Flyers can't be a one-line team and expect success. But they can trust that Konecny will give an honest effort every night.
- Anthony Stolarz - It was not a terrible night for Stolarz. The first goal allowed to Seth Jones is one he wants back for sure, a soft bleeder that somehow went in underneath him. The second goal was off a deflection.The goal by Boone Jenner in the third and Jones in the overtime were well-placed shots on a goalie trying to make a play and maybe reacting a hair too late. Jenner got the puck on a nice play from Artemi Panarin and used a quick release to surprise Stolarz. With Jones' game-winner, there was little time to react and from that spot, it's going to be tough to stop.
In between, though, Stolarz kept the Flyers in the game, especially during a scoreless second period with 12 saves.
Whether he gets the next start in Buffalo or not remains to be seen, but he could should get another start this weekend.
- Overtime - Let's look a little closer at that overtime game-winner just 10 seconds into the period, which somehow was worse than the play in San Jose when the Flyers lost a game in overtime in just 13 seconds.The Flyers won the face-off to gain possession, which is huge in OT. But quickly, they coughed the puck up. Sean Couturier tries to pass back to Ivan Provorov. Provorov gets caught off guard and the puck ends up along the boards, pitting Couturier in a board battle with Cam Atkinson.
Atkinson simply wanted it more and outworked the much larger Couturier. He set up Jones and Jones finished with a great release. It's as simple as that.
But it shouldn't be, and this is the second time the Flyers have been burned in the first 20 seconds of overtime by a miscommunication that led to an odd-man situation that would win the game.
- Follow the Bouncing Puck - Until the jolt from Sanheim, the Flyers were painfully sloppy in this game. Nothing was clean, zone exits were ugly, the Flyers couldn't move the puck, coundn't control the puck, couldn't handle the puck. It just kept hopping off sticks, skipping to loose areas or Columbus sticks.There's really no simple answer to the problem. It's on everyone -- players to execute and coaches to prepare players to feel comfortable to execute on the game plan. When both aren't there, it's a free-for-all, an undisciplined, uncoordinated mess.
That's what you got for the better part of 45 minutes. And the Flyers still got a point.
The Flyers have a good team on paper. They have talented players on the roster. But if they aren't playing well with one another or prepared to play or have any form of structure, it isn't going to matter. That's hopefully what Chuck Fletcher saw in his first game from the GM's chair. A five-game road trip starting in Buffalo and whipping through Western Canada may be enough time for Fletcher to get an idea of this team and what ways he could improve it if things don't start changing soon.
By the Numbers
This is a hard game to gauge by the numbers alone since there was so much time on special teams for both sides, disrupting the rhythm and flow of the game. That said, the heat map below shows some clarity. The Flyers may have won the shot attempts battle, 45-38, at even strength, but missed on too many chances or fired from a distance. The Blue Jackets were in and around the crease for most of the night.
Stat of the Game
After entering the third period with a 2-1 lead, the Blue Jackets only managed five shots on goal for the remainder of the game, and scored on two of them. The Flyers took 15 shots in the third period, more than double their total through 40 minutes, and scored twice.