Final Score: Flyers 7, Senators 4 | (2-2-0)
When I saw that the Ottawa Senators were next up on the Flyers’ schedule, I was a little concerned. How could this possibly be? Does Ottawa even have a team anymore? They traded away Erik Karlsson. They traded away Mike Hoffman. Matt Duchene is probably walking in free agency. It seemed like it was going to be a vacant date on the Flyers’ schedule because there’s no possibility there would be anybody else out on the ice to play against. But then I remembered those 3 legendary words said by Senators GM Pierre Dorion.
I remembered that the Ottawa Senators are, in fact, a team. So that was a pretty major sigh of relief. However, it appeared the Flyers had forgotten the Senators were a team during the first 10-12 minutes of the game because they sure as shit didn’t look like the same group of guys who were so pissed off at themselves in the locker room after that San Jose game. They still came out a little flat and a lot sloppy. And it was due to the same careless turnovers in their own zone that we’ve seen every game so far that they got in to a 1-0 hole in the 1st period. But if there’s one thing that the Flyers did last night that clearly wasn’t there on Tuesday night, it was have the ability to handle momentum swings and not start freaking the fuck out the moment something goes wrong. The Sens were still able to put 4 up on the board but they never got two in a row, and that’s huge for a team who really doesn’t seem too confident playing from behind. And a lot of the Flyers’ offensive bounce back was led by Gritty’s cousin Jake.
Jake’s Got A Snake
This is Jake Voracek’s 8th season as a Flyer. Holy shit I did not realize it’s been that long already. But yeah, throughout his 8 years in Philly here so far, I don’t think I ever once saw Voracek opt to shoot the puck while coming down on a 2v1, especially not with Giroux locked and loaded on the other side. We’ve seen this same scenario at least 500 times before and 499 of those times, Voracek tries to pass it over to Claude. Sometimes it works but sometimes it doesn’t. And when it doesn’t, people start to lose their shit (those people being me). So seeing him just go with the shot here is one of the most beautiful thing I’ve seen over the past 8 years. The entire world thought he was going with the pass. You see Borowiecki drop down and hit the deck because he’s thinking pass. You see DeMelo not even think about hanging back to tie up Couturier because he’s thinking Voracek is gonna try to kick that over to Giroux. And Anderson’s reaction to that shot shows that he wasn’t ready for it either. So if Jake Voracek has been strictly a pass-first guy over the last 8 years just so he could start taking goalies by surprise this year by shooting more, then I’m all for it. Totally worth it.
Voracek also had another goal on the powerplay that we’ll get to later, and then he had the play that set up this Coots goal earlier in the period.
The bounce pass off the boards to hit Gudas in stride hopping into the rush so that he can step in and just tee off on that one. I’m not sure if I can express just how nasty that play is. Gudas didn’t even need to adjust to it. He just steps in, let’s one fly, and then Coots is there to clean up the garbage. All thanks to that nasty ass pass from Jachobe. 2 goals and 3 assists for Voracek on the night. 5 points in a game after getting their dicks kicked in at home the night before. Decent bounce back for Jakub.
The Greasy Grinders Get It Done
There were 3 guys who stood out last night who desperately needed to finally get some love in this city. Those 3 were Scott Laughton–who has had the best start of the season he could possibly be having–Dale Weise, and Jori Lehtera. Weise and Lehtera constantly draw groans from the fans when they are put into the lineup. And then I feel bad for a guy like Scott Laughton because I feel like he just got brought into the organization at a really bad time. Scott Laughton was drafted in 2012. This was just 1 year after the Flyers had traded Mike Richards and so many people were desperate to have that kind of player back in the Flyers lineup. Scott Laughton then drew the comparisons to Richards and that was the level of hype that he had to live up to. And yes, if Scott Laughton lived up to every expectation and then some, he could have turned into a Mike Richards in his prime. But sometimes expectations are unrealistic and unfortunately for Laughton, he was just never able to really find his role on this roster early in his career, but now he’s carved out a nice little spot for himself in the bottom 6 group of forwards where he’s a much better fit. So to see him get 3 goals early on here in the first 4 games is great. Oh, and shoutout to Dale Weise for making a hard push to the front of the net here that made that play happen. Weise spent the first 3 games of the season in the press box. It probably would have been easy for him to go out there last night and look rusty. But he made some hard plays and ended the night with 2 assists. Sucks for Jordan Weal but there’s no denying that Weise is a better option as that last forward in the lineup right now.
And as far as Jori Lehtera goes, well this is the type of shit I love to see from him.
This Flyers team has a ton of talent offensively. You’ve got legitimate studs who are going to put up some serious points this year. So when you have Giroux and Voracek and Gostisbehere and Konecny already in the lineup, you need some guys who are going to fill some other roles. The Flyers don’t need Jori Lehtera to get points. But somebody who is going to stick up for their younger teammates and let people know they’re not going to just get pushed and bullied around out there? A guy who will show some literal fight after the team got routed the night before? So what if it all may just be a result of a coke binge? The Flyers need Jori Lehtera to fill that role and credit to him for going with it last night. That kinda shit gets the boys going. So yeah. Credit to all 3 of those guys. I don’t know how much more I’ll be blogging about them throughout the year so figured I’d give them some shine now while they earned it.
Thank God For The Power Play
There were 24 penalties called last night. Now some of those were either matching minors or double minors. But still, 24 penalties on the night and each team had 7 powerplay opportunities. Obviously it’s pretty tough to try to get any of the lines buzzing with some chemistry if they’re almost never playing 5v5 hockey. But when you’ve got a powerplay as loaded as the Flyers, you can’t really complain too much about having those guys out on the ice together 7 different times. The Flyers were 2/7 on the PP last night but even when they didn’t score, the top unit was still generating a shit ton of prime time chances. Like this one early in the game that probably would have been a much better start for the Flyers if Simmonds put this one home.
Just a sick, sick play from Sean Couturier. And then I’m trying to decide whether that was a save of the year candidate from Anderson if it really just caught Simmonds too much by surprise that Couturier was actually able to get that puck across to him. I’ll go with a little bit of both. But yeah, there are still some very serious issues with this Philadelphia Flyers team. But the couple of saving graces that will always be able to keep them in games are how loaded the powerplay is, and Shayne Gostisbehere being able to launch rockets from the point. And when the two of those things go hand-in-hand? It’s a beautiful sight to see.
I’m Going To Penalty Kill Myself If This Team Keeps Taking Penalties
The Flyers struggle in their own zone enough already when it’s 5v5. So it wouldn’t really make sense to expect their penalty kill to be any better when they’re down a man, especially not when the penalty kill hasn’t been anything more than average the past few seasons. In fact, they’ve been worse than average. The Flyers penalty kill was 29th in the league last year. They were 22nd the year before that. And in the past 3 games? The Flyers have given up 6 power play goals. They were 1/4 against Colorado. Then they were 2/5 against San Jose. And last night they were 3/7 against Ottawa. That says to me a couple of things.
#1) STOP TAKING FUCKING PENALTIES YOU MORONS. Goddamn. I understand that some of them are unavoidable but stay out of the box. A lot of these penalties are just careless, avoidable mistakes like high sticking or when guys like Andrew MacDonald make bonehead decisions to turn the puck over at their own blueline and then compound that mistake by immediately taking a penalty to try to make up for it.
#2) Whatever they’re doing just ain’t working. And again, a lot of that has to do with the fact that for some reason, this team just loves to turn the puck over at their own blueline. This team sucks at killing penalties but they’d probably have a much easier time if they weren’t constantly giving teams extra chances on the power play by turning the puck over in their own zone. But it’s even more than that. It’s a flaw in the system. I think they just need to start getting more aggressive on the kill because all they’re doing right now is packing it in and giving up chances. You need to start creating a little havoc and forcing teams to make mistakes rather than just sit back and hoping for the best. I’m a fan of Ian Laperierre but his ass should be firmly on the hot seat right now if they don’t change up their approach, because whatever they’re doing right now ain’t working.
The Other Guys
– A couple guys like Konecny and Provorov are definitely gripping the stick a little tight these days and you can tell they’re struggling to really find their groove. Which is perfectly fine since they’re both young and you expect young players to go through some ups and downs. I just hope that Hak doesn’t start taking some of their ice time away because the moment that starts happening, then these guys get all in their own head and it’s tough to get yourself going if you’re not out on the ice as much as you’d like to be. Hak just needs to let the kids figure it out on their own without being a smacked ass and shuffling the lineup because they’re not producing.
– Speaking of guys who are producing, quick shoutout to Robert Hagg. He is now tied with John Klingberg for the most goals scored by a Swedish defenseman so far this year in the NHL. Suck on that, Karlsson. Suck on that, Hedman.
– I guess I’m gonna have to start hating Brady Tkachuk, huh? First career game against the Flyers and the kid is a certified killer. 2 goals and an assist on the night. This one right here was a goddamn beauty. Great work to use Sanheim as a screen and shoot through him. Probably would have appreciated a save from Pickard here but definitely a tough one to track with Brady disguising that shot.
– That’s a wrap. See everybody on Saturday for the Golden Knights round 2. Pretty pumped to get those fuckers out of the way already this early in the season. Until then?