Flyers-Devils: Postgame Review
This time, there was no late defensive breakdown, no costly turnover, no blow to the gut that robbed the Flyers of points. There was just a pretty play by Jake Voracek that sent Wells Fargo Center into a frenzy.
Voracek's goal put the Flyers ahead with 3:10 left in the third period to give them a just result in one of the better games and efforts the team has displayed to this point in the season in a 5-2 win.
Voracek's goal was just the capper on the result. It was solid defensive play -- hold for the penalty kill -- that kept the Devils fairly quiet all afternoon. It was solid goaltending when needed from Brian Elliott. It was Voracek taking advantage of an opportunity and finishing it off.
Simply put, this was an effort the Flyers can build on, simply because it showed what the team is capable of when they play at a higher level.
To the takeaways in our Postgame Review.
- Defensive Coverage - From a defensive standpoint, this may have been the Flyers best game of the season at 5-on-5. The Devils had just five shot attempts at 5-on-5 in the first period. They finished the game with 31 total, but 15 of those came in a final period where the play started to open up at both ends.For most of the game, any shot attempts the Devils did take were primarily from the outside. They had one great chance from the slot for Taylor Hall on a turnaround chance in the third that Elliott shut down. They did have four high-danger scoring chances in the third, but they were all taken care of in some way.There was no one defenseman who stood out above the rest or one who made a glaring mistake that led to something the other way. What was better was seeing a key area the Flyers talked about on Thursday cleaned up in this game. The Devils didn't have any notable odd-man rushes or home run plays that forced Elliott to bail the team out. That's a huge step forward for a defense that was heavily maligned for it's lack of coverage and giving up the big chances the other way.
One player that took big strides in this game was Ivan Provorov. His start was as poor as the others -- a turnover right in the middle of the ice wasn't a good sign in yet another game. But he started to make little plays for clean zone exits, slowly regaining his confidence and resembling the player that emerged as a top-end defenseman. He was paired with Robert Hagg for this game, and perhaps that really did make a difference because it seemed like the Flyers top four was more balanced in this game than previous games.
- Score-acek Strikes - When it seemed like the Flyers weren't getting opportunities, Jake Voracek stepped up and made the most of two big ones at the end of the second and late in the third.On Nolan Patrick's goal to give the Flyers the lead at the end of the second, his pass across the crease was flawless.On a two-on-one late in the third, he pulled out a different tactic than a week ago in Ottawa. With the Devils looking pass the whole way -- Damon Severson even backs off on coming over to play Voracek to prevent the pass -- Voracek drops his shoulder and puts a move on Keith Kinkaid that left him frozen. He tucked in the shot attempt and pumped his fist in celebration.
Voracek also added a third point, another assist, on an empty-net goal by Scott Laughton.
Some credit goes to Dave Hakstol here. He changed up the forward lines after Voracek had an awful game in Columbus and put him with Patrick and Laughton on the third line. They contributed to the second, third and fifth goals of the game.
- Forwards Chipping In - Hakstol heavily criticized the Flyers for mistakes made in the last game where the Flyers committed turnovers in the middle of the ice and failed to backcheck. Claude Giroux seemed to take that message to heart. At least twice in the game, he noticeably made an effort to get back into the play on the backcheck and disrupted a scoring chance.This is where the Flyers need to follow Giroux's lead, because it clearly works. The Devils did not have nearly as many chances during even strength play as the Flyers have allowed in recent games. When a team comes together to play defense from start to finish and doesn't yield anything, it keeps the opponent off the board. By having more forward involvement and keeping the focus on the back end first, it makes any success at the other end more meaningful.
- Penalty Kill - Well, it can't all be positive. The Flyers penalty kill was a thorn in the side again. They struggled to clear the crease and allowed for two quality chances on the power play, both resulting in goals.The Flyers penalty kill has done a better job of thwarting zone entries, but they have struggled to finish the job once a team does get set up. They lack some of the aggression needed there to complete the kill and clear the porch.In this game, the Flyers only took three penalties that put them in shorthanded situations, so it wasn't enough to completely sink them. But it certainly can if they don't finish the job there as well.
- Face-offs - This was a monumentally bad day in the face-off circle for the Devils. They had a 19 percent success rate on face-offs after the first period and finished the game with a 27 percent success rate.The Flyers have some great face-off guys in Giroux and Couturier, but when Jordan Weal is going 7-for-10 and Laughton is a perfect 8-for-8 on face-offs, it's a different story. Across the board, the Flyers dominated the face-off circle.
By the Numbers
The Flyers finished the game with a 59.74 CF% at even strength, including a 71.43 CF% in the first period, showing just how much they commanded the first period of the game despite exiting with a 1-1 draw.
Stat of the Game
You don't have a much more well-rounded game that Scott Laughton did. In addition to the eight face-off wins, Laughton had a goal, two shots and one blocked shot in the win.
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.