Flyers 5: Takeaways from Monday’s Flyers-Bruins Game
The result was what the Flyers needed. How long it took was what they didn’t. In this critical week in their season, the one that will likely define whether they choose to buy or sell – or do a little of both – at the deadline, the Flyers needed to win games. They have one to start, certainly a step in the right direction.
But against the Boston Bruins, a team that entered the game with a four-point lead in the standings and two games in hand, allowing them a point doesn’t cut it.
That said, they get to play another day with the thought that a comeback in the standings remains possible. It’s still a longshot, and they can’t afford to repeat the process in getting the same outcome on Tuesday, but they have finally slayed the dragon they couldn’t beat this season. With this win, the Flyers finally have one against the Bruins. Now, they need to get the next one on Tuesday.
Before getting to that, here are five takeaways from Monday’s game.
1. Konecny Cashes In
Finally, a bounce went Travis Konecny’s way. It’s been a trying season for Konecny, one that featured absences on two occasions – first a one-game benching, then a bout with COVID-19. Konecny really just hasn’t been that player that, for one, is producing like he was a season ago, nor has he provided that spark or energy he is known for.
That appears to have changed lately. Konecny had assists on both of Claude Giroux’s goals on Saturday. He added to that with a goal on Monday night, his first in 13 games.
If the Flyers are going to have any shot at making a comeback in the standings this season, they need guys like Konecny to play the way he has lately. Much like the rest of the team, the consistency in performance just hasn’t been there.
2. Outside the Box
The Flyers have two more meetings with the Bruins this week, including Tuesday night. If they are going to have any shot to keep their playoff hopes alive and make some noise, they really need four points out of these games and at least one win in regulation. A good idea may be to stay as far away from the penalty box as possible.
With Patrice Bergeron’s power-play marker in the second, Boston’s power play moved to 9-for-17 on the man-advantage in the season series. The Flyers ultimately evened it out with a successful kill later, but you get the point. A 50-percent success rate isn’t going to get you far, especially against a unit that includes Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak.
Those were the only two penalties the Flyers took in Monday’s game. And it’s a good thing they did. You are only playing with more fire if you make constant trips to the box. The Flyers got off to a good start in that area, even if they still managed to maintain the 50-percent rule on power-play success for the Bruins.
3. Couturier’s Clutch Power-Play Tally
Shortly after the Bruins got their second goal of the game on a power play, the Flyers had two of their own in the second period. They came close to scoring on their first, but two great saves by Dan Vladar kept the margin at one.
It doesn’t really matter how the Flyers failed to capitalize on the man-advantage, simply that they did. When you look at the other side of the ice and see a 50-percent scoring rate on the power play from the opposition, it makes special teams even more magnified.
So when the Flyers got another power play five minutes into the third, it may have been their best shot at getting the game evened up. With under 30 seconds to go on the power play, Sean Couturier delivered.
It was a relatively simple play, a clean entry for Couturier, who peels back, gives to Ivan Provorov at the point, gets it back, and fires away through traffic. But it was the timing and the player behind it that really made it such a clutch moment.
This proved to be the only power play for either team in the third period, the one opportunity given to make something happen on the man-advantage. You could make the case that Couturier has also been the guy to rise to the occasion in situations like this, and when he’s playing like this and delivering in the clutch, the team feeds off it.
4. Sweet Redemption for Sanheim
The game went to overtime, which is certainly not what the Flyers needed, but they still had business to tend to if they wanted the rest of the week to matter. Travis Sanheim had the game on his stick early and was robbed by Vladar.
When he got back on the ice with under two minutes to play, he was rewarded with redemption.
It’s a bit of a strange play all around, not necessarily in how Sanheim scores to win the game, but everything happening around him. It starts with a clutch shot block from Sanheim on a blast from Bergeron, which already catches everyone out of position. Sanheim gains control and at that moment, Bergeron is not the last man back for Boston.
As the play develops slowly, seemingly a casual two-on-two to center ice, Marchand and Nolan Patrick tangle in the Flyers zone. The two collide at first, then Marchand tries to haul down Patrick. Patrick grabs hold of Marchand’s stick. Both go to the ice, as the officials point out that everything goes in that moment.
What really makes the play though is what happens to Matt Grzelcyk. The Boston defenseman is starting to come back defensively with Bergeron picking up Sanheim, but turns to look back at the commotion between Marchand and Patrick. In that instant, Bergeron loses an edge and falls, wildly swinging his stick and somehow not catching Sanheim’s skate. Sanheim is now in alone and Grzelcyk is forced to turn on the speed from center ice.
Sanheim takes care of the rest, going high to the blocker side for the win.
5. Making a Point
It isn’t entirely what the Flyers came to Boston to do. Sure, getting the first win of the season against the Bruins does prove they can do it. If they won once, they can do it again. But there are just two meetings left with the Bruins for the season, both this week, and that actually works in the Flyers favor.
Getting the win was the most important thing for the Flyers. They need to keep winning games to stay alive in the playoff race. Giving a point back to Boston, who smartly played out that third period focusing on getting the game that far, doesn’t help the Flyers.
It is a step in the right direction though. It sets the stage for Tuesday night and Saturday afternoon. If the Flyers can continue to string together points and the Bruins continue to struggle, the possibility remains.
It’s still a longshot for the Flyers. They were still too loose in coverage and still mismanaged the puck too much. They essentially caught a break in overtime that allowed them to win the game. But they got the two points. That’s what matters for now.
Is it time to get excited about this team? No. It’s not like an overtime win closed the gap to one point or tied the two teams in the standings. This is essentially still a seven-point margin with two games in hand for Boston and three points separating the teams in the standings. But, that could change by the weekend. If it does, the Flyers are back in business and the season is plenty alive. If it doesn’t, or if it goes the other way, then the Flyers have their path defined just in time for the trade deadline.
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.