Flyers-Golden Knights: Postgame Review
The Flyers were closing in on at least one hard-earned point against another Western Conference team when a lost puck battle led to the game-winning goal for the Vegas Golden Knights.
For the Flyers, it was just another game that got away, a growing trend here in March.
Let's get to it with our Postgame Review.
- Special Teams Struggles Again - The Flyers went 1-for-4 on the power play and the one goal was big, Wayne Simmonds game-tying goal in the third. That said, there were three other opportunities for the Flyers to make an impact on the man-advantage.
The first two were very much the same as the rest of their recent slump. The cycle between Claude Giroux, Shayne Gostisbehere and Jake Voracek is predictable. Voracek typically always has space because teams are keeping Giroux and Gostisbehere marked. Voracek is always -- always -- in a pass-first mentality. There could be tons of open space in front of him and he still drops closer to the goal line trying to eye up a passing line. By that time, the penalty kill is set and able to get into the passing lanes.
It's clearly not working and if teams had to keep Voracek honest for a shot here and there, they may be more likely to protect against it and leave room for passes that he wants to make.
In this game, the penalty kill also let the Flyers down. Petr Mrazek was responsible for the first goal. The Flyers netminder needs to have a better grasp of where his stick is in the crease. The way he played the cross-ice pass directly influence the change in direction that beat him. This was no bad bounce off a defenseman or a deflection. This falls on him.
Vegas' second power-play goal was much more puck luck than anything. Mrazek had to recover just to make the save on the double-deflection on the way in. The rebound going right to the Golden Knight's leading scorer was just how things fell on this night.
- Puck Battles - This was the final game of a five-game road trip for the Golden Knights and the five games were played in a nine-day span. You wouldn't know it with the way they won puck battles and races to loose pucks in the final minutes.
The Flyers really had an opportunity to seize a couple of points off a tired team. Vegas simply looked hungrier against the Flyers third line and a mixed pairing of Radko Gudas and Andrew MacDonald.
This is what has really been hurting the Flyers in this last stretch. These teams that are locking in their playoff spots early remain hungry as the game hits the crucial points. During their February success, yes, the Flyers could often times match that hunger. But mired in this slump in March, they simply cannot. It is as much mental as it is physical. The Flyers ended up on the right end of a result on Saturday, but that doesn't mean they are out of the woods yet.
- Flower Power - Ryan Carpenter's game-winning goal may have come from a hungry shift by the Golden Knights' third line, but Marc-Andre Fleury was the reason for the final result.
Fleury picked up his 400th NHL win and looked determined to reach the milestone. He robbed the Flyers with the glove multiple times. In the second, he stopped both Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindblom from in tight on a pair of point-blank chances.
In total, Fleury made 38 saves and there were very few that were routine. He was excellent and earned the result and decision in this game.
- Leht's Give Him Some Credit - One player who has stood out in the last few games for the Flyers has been Jori Lehtera. He's slotted into the fourth line well lately and has an energy to his game that was lost early in the season.
Lehtera is far from the perfect fourth-liner, but he's getting the job done right now. He's been solid on the PK and been much more aggressive on the puck in these last few weeks and he carves out a consistent role for himself.
There was a time when Lehtera struggled to get into the lineup and when he did mistakes were noticeable and regular. That hasn't been the case nearly as much lately, so give him some credit for embracing the role and filling it nicely.
- Back to Old Habits - The Flyers were the better team in this game for most of the 60 minutes, but they still had some adventures in puck handling, zone exits and passes.
The Flyers are still struggling to handle the puck and get out of the zone cleanly. Vegas wasn't nearly as aggressive at the lines and simply played the forecheck harder in their effort to get turnovers, so the Flyers got away with some risky zone exits, but it's the passing that is of concern.
The Flyers passing has gotten better of late in terms of accuracy. The Flyers have been able to get speed through the neutral zone a lot better in the last three games than the previous four. That said, the overpassing continues, none more noticeable than on a two-on-one where Travis Konecny took a feed from Claude Giroux. Giroux laid a nice pass to Konecny on the rush and Konecny immediately tried to touch it back to the slot instead of tipping it on goal.
The Flyers are very well passing up shots and potential goals and at this stage of the season, needing as much offense as they can for the defensive mistakes they are making, it needs to be cleaned up in a hurry.
Kevin Durso is Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.