Final Observations: Washington Capitals 7, Philadelphia Flyers 0
Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images
- It’s easy to forget that the Flyers carried the play in this game through the first three-quarters of the first period. Though Philadelphia was not playing particularly well, Washington was still being stymied in terms of shots on net and successful zone entries.
- The entire game changed with Nicklas Backstrom’s goal at the 17:28 mark of the first period. From that moment on, the Flyers played like a team that expected to lose.
- Undeniably, the Flyers have serious roster issues. The defense is slow and lacks puck-moving instincts as a whole, and the forward corps could use an infusion of speed and a few pure goal scorers. But in addition, Philadelphia currently has no idea how to deal with adversity. This has been a recurring trend all season, from opening night against Toronto to Tuesday night against the Ducks. When a bad bounce, a blown assignment, or a mindless turnover goes against the Flyers, they collapse as a team. All teams suffer from tough breaks over the course of a game, but successful teams do not allow one bad play to turn into a bad shift, a bad period, or a bad game.
- Solving this problem will not be easy. Statistics are a fantastic tool in understanding the game and analyzing why players succeed, but they merely reflect what happens on the ice. When the Flyers dominate in puck possession through the first period and then watch the numbers reverse themselves as soon as the opponent scores their first goal, it is not a problem that can be solved by stats. It needs to happen in the locker room, on the bench, and in the coach’s office.
- The fights that occurred during the third period were, to the Flyers’ credit, a burst of emotion from a team sorely lacking it. Wayne Simmonds kickstarted the mayhem by hitting two Capitals at the start of a shift. Simmonds, Vincent Lecavalier and Brayden Schenn all fought, and their frustration was understandable and rightfully appreciated by the fanbase.
- However, Ray Emery’s actions are difficult to defend. Emery rushed down the ice and essentially forced a reluctant Braden Holtby to fight, and then continued to pummel Holtby even after the Capitals goalie had fallen to the ice. Emery clearly was frustrated and wanted to release his anger regardless of Holtby’s feelings on the matter. Whether Emery’s actions are even suspendable remains to be seen, but the goalie’s actions were from the Broad Street Bullies era, which unfortunately for Ed Snider’s Flyers, is long over.
- Not only did the Flyers embarrass themselves on the ice with their poor play, they lost both Lecavalier and Steve Downie to injuries, and neither will play on Saturday night against the New Jersey Devils. Downie, in fact, was taken to the hospital after the game after being diagnosed with a concussion. Combine the injuries with the quick turnaround, and it certainly does not get any easier for Philadelphia.
Philadelphia Flyers Three Questions (and answers)
1) The big move of the week was the Maxime Talbot-for-Steve Downie trade on All Hallows’ Eve. Downie will immediately slot into a role on the first line, replacing Michael Raffl. The 24-year old Raffl showcased strong hockey instincts and surprising forechecking talent, but completely lacked the ability to convert on scoring opportunities. Is Downie an immediately improvement over Raffl?
Downie certainly had his moments in the first period, helping the first line to crisply move the puck through the neutral zone. But he was infected with the same malaise as the rest of the Flyers team in the second period. Then in an attempt to rouse his team, he challenged Aaron Volpatti to a fight and came away with a cut to the face and a concussion, and ended up in the hospital overnight for observation. To go from a team with the best record in the Western Conference to possibly the worst team in the Eastern Conference and the hospital? A banner three days for Downie.
2) Claude Giroux has quietly scored at a point-per-game pace over his past six contests, but still is waiting for his first goal of the season. The addition of Lecavalier to Giroux’s wing got the Flyers’ captain going from a point standpoint, but is the addition of Downie to his line at even strength what finally helps Giroux to light the lamp?
Not even close. Giroux took a few wild slapshots that had no chance of hitting the net, and on the whole looked no different than the frustrated player that has been wearing the #28 all season.
3) The Flyers threw away Tuesday night’s game against Anaheim due to an absolutely horrific third period, their worst period since the second stanza against Pittsburgh on 10/17. While playing a full sixty minutes may be too much to ask from a team that has failed to do so for over a full season, do the Flyers at the very least have a solid third period in them tonight?
By the third period, this game was long over. If you consider scrapping to be worthy of praise, then it could be argued that at least the Flyers showed some emotion in the third period, but in terms of actual hockey skill, there was little to be found from the home team after Backstrom’s first period tally.