Flyers-Lightning: Postgame Review
Three games removed from their best home game of the season, a 4-0 victory over Chicago, it felt like things were back to the same old same again for the Flyers. Down 5-1 in the third period having allowed three power-play goals, the winds of change were whipping.
In a matter of six minutes, the Flyers somehow got something out of this game, one where they were on the better end of the play for the most part, but getting no results. In six minutes, a four-goal deficit disappeared, and the Flyers were suddenly locked in a tie game.
There was plenty to take away on the negative end. Allowing three power-play goals, six goals to even the most potent offense in the Tampa Bay Lightning and making enough fundamental mistakes to create a deficit in the first place don't look good. But the rally, the three power-play goals in the game and the push made in the final five minutes showed some character. It may not be a win, and the homestand ends at a 2-2-1 mark on a sour note, but the Flyers need to channel this effort late in the game into better results from here.
Let's break it down in our Postgame Review.
- Power Play - Late in the second period, the Flyers power play finally struck for a goal. On the two chances they had in the third, they added two more. Maybe all it really did take was one to give the Flyers that confidence.
It was great to see various sources contributing. James van Riemsdyk got his first goal of the season, and first goal in his return to Philadelphia, by going to work in front of the net on a rebound. Travis Konecny scored filling in for Jake Voracek, who was off with a penalty, at the top of the right circle with a nice wrist shot. Sean Couturier got a chance in front of the net. It's not so much in how the Flyers have to score on the power play as much as just doing it. JVR's goal wasn't pretty. In fact, it was a matter of one clear away from being another missed chance. But the puck went in -- dirty but good.
The two power-play goals that followed felt more like extra lines in the box score, with the team down by two even after the third tally of the afternoon, but it actually helped carve into the lead enough with time to trim a two-goal deficit.
Regardless, this was exactly the type of game the Flyers power play needed. If they can keep rolling, better results are sure to come against teams not as capable of putting up six goals a game like Tampa is.
- Penalty Kill - Something has to change here. You can't allow three goals on the penalty kill and expect to win games. You just can't.
It's getting to a point where you wonder how much longer you can go without a coaching change. It's really hard to change personnel in this spot unless you dip into the minors for a PK specialist. You typically don't trade for one overnight.
The Flyers first PK was actually very good, with limited set-up time for the Lightning power play. The second one started the same way, into the closing seconds of it no less. Adam Erne executed a quick give-and-go with Yanni Gourde, the first one was in and then it unraveled from there.
The Flyers have enough trouble stopping the opposing power play at 5-on-4, so 1:28 of 5-on-3 time was just begging for a goal to go in. It took the Lightning just 10 seconds to set up Tyler Johnson for the one-timer. Even back at 5-on-4, it took just 11 seconds off the ensuing face-off for them to score again. It's too easy for the opposition to find a way to score. That nice one-game break from allowing a power-play goal was refreshing, but it's an anomaly. The Flyers PK is flat-out terrible, so much so it's disgusting. There's nothing else left to do but make some sort of significant change, because it is allowing special teams to cost this team too many games.
- Cal Pickard - You can't pin all six goals allowed on Pickard, notable the two goals by Brayden Point, virtual tap-ins in front, or the one-timer by Johnson. Erne's power-play goal was a well-placed shot. The same could be said for Anthony Cirelli's game-winner. The goal by Cedric Paquette was soft and a back-breaker given where the game was at the time.
But percentages come into play here. The Lightning had three goals on 15 shots through two periods. They finished the game with six goals on 26 shots. That's a .769 save percentage by a goalie who is likely going to have to carry you through the next two weeks.
I don't know that Alex Lyon will get the start in the next game, but it needs to be considered. Every now and then, Pickard needs to come up with a stop. On the power play, it's certainly more difficult, but you still need to step up. The Flyers could have used that, even against one of the best offenses in the league.
- The Rally - With 10:52 left in the third, this was a 5-1 game. Give the Flyers credit, they didn't fold and let the next 10 minutes go by the wayside. They battled, they stepped up the speed and they continued creating chances.
The two power-play goals didn't do much to make a comeback enter your mind. It turned a 5-1 game into a 5-3 game in a span of 1:05, but there was still 8:31 to play and the Flyers had not generated near as much at 5-on-5 as they normally do.
Konecny's second goal of the game, a nice tip-in on a set-up by Claude Giroux, cut the lead to one with 4:02 to play. At the very least, the Flyers were going to probably get a chance with the goalie pulled. They didn't even need that.
Robert Hagg walked in and put a shot on goal that was low and left a rebound, a problem for Louis Domingue all day. Wayne Simmonds needed three whacks at the loose puck to put it home, but did and the Flyers had clawed their way back to a 5-5 tie. It was bedlam. Of course, it holds lesser meaning when it wasn't finished off in overtime, but consider this a stolen point in the standings nonetheless.
- Short Leash - Pump the brakes and rewind back to the 9:08 mark of the third period. Point had scored his second tap-in goal and the Flyers are trailing on home ice again, 5-1. It's bordering on pathetic.
The thought ahead of this game was that the Lightning were legitimate competition. Forget the games the Flyers had played against Florida and New Jersey, which were both lost in regulation, where the team needed to get a better result, this was a chance to show they could hang with better competition.
For the first period, this was true. In the second, they were still with them throughout until Point's first goal late, a much smaller forward outworking Ivan Provorov for net-front presence and a goal. That felt deflating, but a quick goal could change all that early in the third. They didn't get that goal and gave up two more goals while shorthanded.
At this point, going from a six-game points streak and 5-0-1 record to an 0-2-1 record in the last three games just makes the leash shorter again for everyone. Teams that think they have a chance to comfortably make the playoffs and win a playoff series don't look at this kind of stretch in November and sit on their hands. They do something about it.
Ron Hextall has to be considering all options, still, despite what the six-game stretch showed. The Flyers aren't in the clear yet when finishing the homestand strong could have silenced a lot of the critics. Having to rally for three points out of five total on the five-game homestand with insane third-period efforts doesn't do the trick here. There are too many issues surrounding this team to be considered a playoff shoe-in. That keeps the leash short, because anything short of that shouldn't be acceptable.
By the Numbers
A good sign for the Flyers: they essentially matched the Lightning in 5-on-5 CF% throughout the game, finishing with a 50.5 CF% against a team that can control that aspect of a game. Interestingly enough, in the third period, the Lightning finished with more shot attempts than the Flyers at 5-on-5, 16-15.
Stat of the Game
In his second game back in the lineup, James van Riemsdyk had a goal and two assists for a three-point game. He had just one point in the first game of the season before the injury.