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Flyers Drop A Winnable Game 1, Lose Couturier In The Process

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Flyers 0, Capitals 2 | (Caps lead series 1-0)

I’m not here to sugar coat anything. That game last night was incredibly winnable for the Flyers and they just weren’t able to get anything going in the offensive zone. They had opportunity after opportunity to get themselves on the board and they failed. You can blame some of that on first game nerves/jitters if you want to but that’s not the type of team this is. It was just a lack of execution that killed the Flyers last night and there are 3 big takeaways from that game we’ll talk about before getting into some of the smaller stuff. 1) Sean Couturier is done for the rest of the series with a separated AC Joint. 2) The Caps PK shut the Flyers PP down and it was a clinic. And 3) the Simmonds/Wilson fight. Let’s go in chronological order here.

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Now as somebody who grew up playing contact sports unlike that Squeak Toy in DC, you knew as soon as you saw that left arm dangling that Coots’ shoulder was donezo. Been there, done that and Sean Couturier will have plenty of difficulty just trying to put on a shirt for the next week and a half let alone try to play a hockey game. And if the odds weren’t stacked up against the Flyers enough already, they just got doubled. Because losing Coots is an absolute killer. He’s the team’s best defensive forward and we’ve already seen the drastic difference in this team when he’s on the ice versus when he’s not earlier this season. He’s huge on the penalty kill, he’s huge on the possession game, he’s great at taking away space from the opposing team’s best player and he’s the glue to that 2nd line which is the glue to the entire team. Yeah, it fucking BLOWS that he’s out for the series. But this is a Flyers team that fought their way into the playoffs with their resiliency and now they’re going to have to dig just a little deeper. I’d expect Scott Laughton to come fill the spot for Coots and if they’re able to steal game 2 in DC without Coots in the lineup, well then I’m still confident in a 7-game series.

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Caps PK DOMINATED The Flyers All Night

The only way the Flyers’ powerplay can get back to being as efficient as they were a few weeks ago is if Schenn buries one from that high slot or if Voracek buries one from that opposite side. Because right now, the Caps are just way too content with keeping a tight perimeter and locking off that pass between Ghost and Giroux. The moment Schenn or Voracek score, they have to respect those two and not leave them so open. That opens up the perimeter and that forces them to shy off that G-to-G pass a little bit. That’s all there really is to it. But they were complete non-factors last night and that’s why you saw the 2nd powerplay unit have a little more success (even though they still didn’t show up on the scoreboard) than the top unit. The Caps don’t have any special way to play against PP2 and that opens up more chances.

This is going to sound like a hot take here that may accidentally land me a job at ESPN but you can’t expect to go 0-4 on the powerplay in the 1st period and still win the game. Just one goal out of those 4 opportunities and the game completely shifts the Flyers’ way. Instead, they let a better team hang around and then they capitalized after getting a million opportunities of their own. Good news is, the Flyers powerplay can only get better from here.

Simmer Made The Right Decision

This right here is a dirt bag hit. You deserve to get your face punched repeatedly after a dirt bag hit like this. In comes Wayne Simmonds to supply the fists.

Now here’s how we’re going to do this. We’re going to throw out every argument against Simmonds fighting in this situation and then come back with the rebuttal on why you’re a fucking idiot if you think that way.

1) There’s 6:51 left in the 3rd period of a 1 goal game: Yes, I understand that the timing of this fight was pretty shitty. But do people not understand that this is a 7-game series? Do people not understand that the Flyers only need to win 1 game in Washington to have a fighting chance in this series? If this was game 7 then yes, I would be incredibly pissed at Simmonds for taking this fight with Wilson. But it’s Game 1 and again, that was a dirt bag hit. I will never have any issue with a player sticking up for a teammate in that situation. Is it going to make Wilson think twice about landing another hit like that later in the series? Probably not, because he’s a gigantic cock sucker. But it’s the mentality of “us against the world” that Wayne Simmonds has completely bought into and the rest of the guys in that locker room respect the hell out of. Simmonds isn’t going to let one of his guys get buried right in the numbers like that without punching somebody’s face for it.

2) So you want your top goal scorer off the ice for 5 of the last 6 minutes?: This is where people who don’t watch the Flyers just need to shut the fuck up. Is Simmonds the Flyers top goal scorer? Yes. But it’s completely different with Simmonds. He isn’t a skill player. He doesn’t create his own scoring. He parks his ass in front of the net and is very good at putting the puck in the back of it, but him fighting Wilson there doesn’t take a skill player off the ice as it would for most teams’ top goal scorers. I’ll take that fight every single night as long as it’s not an elimination game. It sets the tone from here on out and that tone is that every single player on this roster is going to fight for each other from now until whenever the season ends.

3) Well why not just let Wilson take the penalty and then wait until another time to teach him a lesson?: This is my favorite argument of all because it’s so fucking easy to say this while you’re sitting at home on your couch with your face buried in your phone typing away on Twitter. Try being on the ice in that playoff atmosphere while you just watched your boy get clobbered from behind into the boards and then tell me how much self-restraint you had in that moment. People throwing this argument out last night are the absolute worst. Would that have been the smart decision for Simmonds to make? Maybe. But again, I’ll never get angry at a guy for defending his teammate. Also, in no fucking world should Wayne Simmonds have received that extra 2 minutes for roughing. The refs were hot garbage all night and that’s been the theme all year long in the NHL.

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The Other Guys

– The best Flyers last night were Sam Gagner and Steve Mason. As he’s done consistently for the past month, Steve Mason gave his team every chance to win that game. Aside from a gross bounce during a bullshit penalty kill and a snipe late in the game after a disgusting turnover by Voracek, Mason was a wall. But you can be the best pitcher in the game and without any run support, you still end up with L’s. I know they played hard but they need to figure it the hell out and give Mase something to work with. Because they can’t keep wasting ridiculous performances like that and expect to make it past game 4. Gagner was all over the ice last night and you can tell he was ready to play some playoff hockey after spending 9 years buried in Edmonton and Arizona. He took a tough high sticking call but other than that, he was generating offense and putting the Caps on their heels a bit. More than I can say for the majority of the guys offensively.

– Brayden Schenn came to fuck shit up and whoever he fights on Saturday is going to need a body bag.

If that hit at the end of the game doesn’t get you fired up and get all of your juices flowing, then I don’t even want to know you as a person. Because that’s playoff hockey, baby. Nature’s finest aphrodisiac.

– The NHL needs to figure it the fuck out with that delay of game penalty on Brandon Manning. It’s been an issue all season. Unless it’s an attempted clear, the puck leaving the surface of play shouldn’t get called for 2 minutes. He tried to knock a puck out of the air and got screwed because he was along the lower glass. That should never be a penalty. You know it, I know it, the whole world besides the NHL rulebook knows it. So Manning goes off for 2 minutes, the Caps get two powerplays back-to-back and they finally capitalize on it with a squeaky deflection goal. It’s ridiculous.

– Ghost will be fine. Stop worrying so much. He’s a rookie defenseman playing in his first NHL playoff game. He wasn’t going to have the greatest night in the world and he didn’t do anything that directly led to the Flyers losing that game. So relax about Ghost.

– Flyers need to clean up their powerplay, they need to stay resilient and fight for one another, they need to continue taking time and space away from the Ovechkin line both 5v5 and 5v4, and they just need to come back home to Philly with 1 win and it’s Flyers in 7.

– Nick Schultz deserves all of the pain killers in the world after how many of Ovechkin’s shots he stepped in front of last night. And he deserves the good stuff. Maybe Mike Richards can hook him up.

See you bitches on Saturday. Win for Ed.

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@BarstoolJordie