Flyers-Blue Jackets: Postgame Review
Hey, Carter Hart wasn't going to be perfect.
If the Flyers did everything they could to eliminate chances in front of Hart in the first two games of his career, they didn't do him any favors in his third game. Hart was left in difficult position, needing to recover from the shortcomings the Flyers had early in the season.
It led to their downfall again, as the Columbus Blue Jackets took advantage of opportunities and exposed the Flyers areas of weakness that still need improvement despite two good wins earlier in the week.
More in our Postgame Review.
- Carter Hart - Making 15 saves on 19 shots isn't good. But it was really hart to fault Hart for this result.
Columbus scored the first goal of the game off a turnover by Ivan Provorov at the Flyers blue line and Zach Werenski picked his spot. Hart made an incredible save on Cam Atkinson before Atkinson scored his first goal on a rebound. Atkinson's second goal came off another Flyers turnover and more quick passing. Perhaps the only goal you could put on Hart as much as anyone else was the fourth Columbus goal by Artemi Panarin right off a face-off, but Panarin is a straight shooter who can snipe at any time.
Hart made his share of good saves and kept the Flyers in the game, even in limited opportunities. He's young, so while he wasn't overly busy in this game, he should probably be done for the week and see his next action next week. But you never know. Hart doesn't seemed phased by workload in any way and despite allowing four goals on 19 shots in his third game and taking his first loss, he could be thrown right back into action.
In the same sense, the Flyers got some great scoring chances throughout the game and Sergei Bobrovsky was tremendous. Carter Hart may be the future for the Flyers and may become a great goalie in this league, but after besting one Vezina winner with a great performance, Hart didn't come close to Bobrovsky's territory in this game.
- Ivan Provorov - Speaking of Provorov, as mentioned on the first Columbus goal, something is clearly not right with him. He insists he's healthy, but he's still making routine mistakes that he wasn't making even as a rookie.
It's nearly halfway through the 2018-19 season, so if Provorov is still experiencing these issues, it's not a slump or a recent stretch that is hurting him. This has been the norm for him this season.
If Provorov isn't making up for an injury and trying to play through it, then he is probably trying to do too much. He needs to simplify his game and get back to basics.
Provorov was the one player the Flyers couldn't afford to lose for a long time, or at least that's what was believed as the season started. In this case, having Provorov play through whatever is hampering him, if there is an injury he's covering up, it's better if he just takes the time to recover and doesn't force it.
- Puck Management - Chuck Fletcher talked about puck management at the time of the coaching change and for two games, it was pretty solid and improved.
The Flyers didn't play a bad game by any stretch. They out-shot the Blue Jackets, 37-19, and had 65 shot attempts to 30 for Columbus in all game situations. They were the team generating more.
But when you struggle to control the puck or turn it over so willingly, you put yourself at risk for goals to be scored against. For two games, the Flyers didn't commit those costly turnovers and force a new goalie to make a big save. On Saturday, they did it too much.
You can put Martin Brodeur or Patrick Roy in goal in his prime and they won't be able to make up for all of the mistakes you make if you force them to be perfect. The Flyers have to recognize this. In two games, they didn't let us the golden opportunities on odd-man rushes and turnovers. Columbus feasted off them on Saturday and that proved to be the difference.
- Power Play - Realistically, the Flyers power play was lucky to get one in this game. Sean Couturier's backhander with two seconds left on the first man-advantage was the team's first power-play goal in five games and made them 2-for-32 over the last 14 games.
The penalty kill has actually turned things around in recent games, so maybe it's time to take the focus off of that and put it on the power play, which is in shambles. Again, it's about simplicity and it feels like the Flyers do anything but keep it simple.
It's too early to pin this on Scott Gordon because it's hard to make adjustments in three games time. But this has been Kris Knoblauch's problem all season. How bad has the Flyers power play been? It's been so bad lately that they entered Saturday's game in last place in the NHL. Even the penalty kill has climbed out of the cellar to be ranked in a tie for 28th in the league.
It's hard to say this is on personnel, because this group has been plenty successful in the past, but being on a power play seems to bring out the worst in this group with forced passes and lack of puck control. This, too, needs to go back to basics.
- The Second Line - If you're looking for the area where Columbus took control of this game, it was simple. Their second, third and fourth lines were really ineffective offensively. But the top line? That trio was superb.
The trio of Couturier, Wayne Simmonds and Jake Voracek were given the task to defend the top line. This became a mismatch in the game. Voracek was also responsible for a blue-line turnover that led to a goal. Couturier and Voracek were each a minus-3. Simmonds was a minus-2. Similarly, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim were on the ice in these situations too, and they were both a minus-2. You need more out of your top defensive line -- which is usually the purpose of lines two and three -- and your top defensive pairing.
Instead, this game wasn't even close at times because of how poorly this line played.
This just isn't a trio that says it can be relied on to stop the opposition's best players on a nightly basis. Voracek has always struggled to be a two-way forward. Simmonds seems to be a step slower following a year plagued with injuries. Couturier is still a reliable defensive forward, but when your other two aren't getting it done, it means very little.
By the Numbers
An interesting game inside the numbers. The Flyers had the better second period numbers, 16 shot attempts to 13 and four high-danger chances to two at 5-on-5, but were outscored 3-1. In the third, the Flyers had a 78.57 CF% -- 11 shot attempts to three at 5-on-5 -- by no high-danger scoring chances.
Stat of the Game
It was fitting that James van Riemsdyk picked up a goal at the end of the game. He led the team with six shots. He was also the only Flyer to have a multi-point game.