Flyers-Red Wings: Postgame Review
The Flyers managed to turn a terrible 40 minutes into a point in the standings and a chance at the win. In a time when points are so critical, it wasn't even close to good enough.
A 5-4 shootout loss to the lowly Detroit Red Wings gave the Flyers a deserved result in more ways than one, knocking them from the top three in the Metropolitan Division and back into the wildcard race.
Let's hit it with our Postgame Review.
- Put Him In, Coach - It was supposed to be Petr Mrazek's homecoming night. It turned out to be a disaster.
The Flyers have started Mrazek 12 times. This is the second time he's been pulled early in the last three starts. In addition, Mrazek has allowed fewer than three goals just once in the last nine starts. That's simply not cutting it.
So after allowing a third goal in relatively short order, Mrazek was pulled for Alex Lyon. Look, Lyon is far from an elite goalie, but he's also been much better than Mrazek of late. At this point, what's probably more alarming is that Lyon has nearly as many games played in relief as he does starts. In nine career games, Lyon has entered four of them in relief.
The funny thing about it is that Lyon has played his best in those situations. In four relief appearances, Lyon has allowed just two goals on 71 shots. Lyon has also been pretty good in his last three starts. Two of them are wins and the only loss was the 3-2 heartbreaking defeat in Boston and Lyon made several saves to keep the game tied before the late-game goal.
Bottom line, the kid has earned another chance to start a game. When the Flyers are making a decision as to who starts in goal on Thursday, it should be Lyon, simply because he's been the Flyers rock in goal when Mrazek was expected to be.
- Another Bad Start - Beyond the goaltending, the Flyers approached this game as if they expected Detroit to mail it in. The Red Wings had lost 10 straight games, but throughout the first 40 minutes, they were the hungrier team, getting after pucks, making plays and winning battles.
The Flyers can't keep coming into games like this. There can't be such a lack of energy that a lowly opponent like Detroit starts taking it to you. The Flyers didn't get off to a tremendous start on Sunday, but they weathered the storm of a back-to-back and managed to increase the intensity in the second and third for a key win.
That is how every game should be. The Flyers just have never been that team this season. In 74 games, they have been leading after one period just 14 times. There is no lack of consistency there. This team comes out flat so often and has to try to fight and claw their way back into it. While being able to rally back is nice, it isn't what a playoff team does, and that's concerning as the season hits the final stretch.
- Comeback Almost Complete - Still, the Flyers deserve some credit for seeing the task in front of them in the third period and finding a way, twice, to make a comeback to get a point in the standings.
This was a game looked destined to be a regulation loss and that would have created even more problems in the standings. At the very least, the Flyers managed to get a point to keep inching forward toward a playoff spot.
To do it, they needed to get a spark from someone. It turned out to be a fourth-line goal with Scott Laughton and Matt Read teaming up to cut the lead to one. The Flyers then got a power-play goal from Shayne Gostisbehere to tie the game at three. When Detroit took the lead again with under six minutes to play, the top line came back with a shift that resulted in another goal.
That much was a positive. But there weren't many positives leading up to that point, and at this time of the season, getting two points was critical. So kudos for the one point that is certainly valuable, but it doesn't take away from the terrible opening 40 minutes that cost the team another.
- Milestone Goals - It took 15 games, but Sean Couturier finally reached the 30-goal mark. Coming into this season, people were certainly skeptical that Couturier had this kind of offensive production in him. He's been tremendous all season, even in his goal-scoring drought, and was rewarded for being around the net again.
He won't reach the 40-goal mark, which certainly seemed possible in January, but he's putting the finishing touches on a career year.
In addition, Travis Konecny scored his 20th goal of the season. For the Flyers tenacious forward whose heart certainly makes up for his size, this could be the first of many high-scoring seasons.
- Team Identity - When all is said and done with this Flyers season, there are moments of success and moments of pure frustration and aggravation. It may turn out to be a playoff season, even if it is a one-and-done playoff season.
Given the amount of young players on the team, there is progress, but at the same time, has there been a more infuriating season in Flyers history?
Think about it. The Flyers get off to a modest start in October, then fall into a 10-game losing streak in November that sparks talks of major change. Suddenly the team starts stringing together wins -- a six-game streak, a few four-game streaks -- and now is making a run back into the playoff picture. Then comes a 12-game point streak with wins in 10 of 11 games. Now the division title is in play. That lasts until the calendar turns to March, when the Flyers go 3-6-2 to fall back into the wildcard battle.
What does it all add up to? It's a 37-25-12 record, which really translates to 37 wins and 37 losses.
What is this team's identity? Why, they are perfectly mediocre.
This is a team that will probably still make the playoffs and show signs of progress toward the future. But this isn't like trusting the process with the Sixers where a bunch of kids are showing mass improvement and building towards a successful run in the future.
This is a team that has some promising youngsters, some resurgent veterans, and a whole bunch of who knows what in the middle. There is a lot of dead weight on this team, and that is why night after night, they may do a lot of great things, but they will also have moments that just make you want to rip your hair out.
So that's where we are after 74 games, a team that has won as much as it has lost. A team that will probably get to the dance in the playoffs, but have midnight strike quickly.
For the young up-and-coming players, that's fine. The experience still benefits them. For the many pieces that are dead weight to the roster, this will be the last hurrah before an offseason that should see the Flyers shift more focus on ushering in the future and shedding the dead weight.