Flyers-Islanders: Postgame Review
In the preseason, the result really doesn't matter near as much. You look for positives out of the performance of your players and that players avoid injury ahead of the regular season.
It was difficult to find many positives out of this game, a 3-0 loss for the Flyers to the Islanders, and an injury to Travis Sanheim only added to it.
Going deeper into the preseason opener, here's our Postgame Review.
- Sanheim - The big concern after the preseason opener is over Travis Sanheim. During the second period, Sanheim took a hit from behind from Matt Martin, going into the boards with his shoulder. Sanheim left the game and did not return.
That could be more precautionary than anything, but the Flyers did not have an update following the game and will update his status on Monday. The injury is of great concern with Andrew MacDonald already out for another five weeks. The last thing the Flyers need before the season starts is for injuries to be piling up already.
- Penalty Kill - The Flyers took three penalties in the game leading to Islander power plays. On the first two, the Islanders scored.
Dave Hakstol retorted that penalty kill has been the question everyone's been asking all offseason and that they have to work and get through the finer details. It took the Islanders 19 seconds to score on their first power play. Not exactly a promising start.
It was good to see some new players get a chance on the penalty kill. The first penalty kill had Phil Myers and Robert Hagg defensively with Oskar Lindblom and Cole Bardreau up front. Personnel changed throughout the game -- Mikhail Vorobyev and Taylor Leier started up front on the second power play -- but it was mainly a learning experience for a lot of players.
There's time for refinement, and if it's any consolation, the Islanders used a more veteran-heavy lineup than the Flyers, but the penalty kill didn't get off to a hot start by any mean.
- Phil Myers - Myers appeared to have a solid game overall. He was fairly noticeable as a puck mover and in his positioning early in the game, then blended in -- good for a defenseman -- for a bulk of the remainder of the game until he took a penalty in the third.
Between MacDonald's injury and now Sanheim's status, Myers could really have a path to a roster spot and just needs to prove he's worthy. He looks the part in camp and didn't look out of place in a game.
- Goaltending - It was good to see Anthony Stolarz back in a game. He allowed both power play goals, but both were not on him. Kieffer Bellows' goal was a perfectly set up one-timer from the slot, virtually impossible to stop for a goaltender. Cal Clutterbuck's goal followed a partially blocked shot that slowed up the play and put the puck in a prime scoring area. Stolarz wasn't going to be able to react quickly enough.
Stolarz was tested early and stopped 13 of 15 shots in his first game action at the NHL level in over a year. Not bad for a goalie who only played in four games last season after a long road to recovering from injury.
Alex Lyon also made nine saves on 10 shots and looked decent in his first game action.
- Welcome to the NHL - As mentioned, the Islanders had more of a veteran-heavy lineup while the Flyers sent mainly prospects to this game in Long Island. The most experienced forward was Travis Konecny. Defensively, Christian Folin carried the most experience.
For a lot of these prospects, like Morgan Frost, Mikhail Vorobyev and Maksim Sushko, it's their first exposure to an NHL game, even if it is the preseason. So the quick movement on a power play from Mathew Barzal to Jordan Eberle to top prospect Kieffer Bellows is a step up from what they have seen in juniors or the minors, especially in Barzal, who is very skilled in a lot of areas. That left the Flyers a step behind or on the losing end of board battles, coming up short in the little areas that can determine the result of a game.
Ultimately, you chalk this up as a learning experience for a lot of prospects. Many of them will be going back to juniors or off to minor-league camp after the first few preseason games -- whenever cuts are made -- so that small taste of an NHL atmosphere can be motivating.
"Overall, too many soft areas of the game from my standpoint. Too many soft performances in hard areas. It's a tough game and for some guys, maybe it's coming off practice or first NHL game, those are tough experiences, but we had too many guys that were soft in the hard areas of this game." - Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol
By the Numbers
In the first two periods, the Flyers struggled to generate much of anything on offense at 5-on-5. The Islanders had 27 shot attempts to 16 for the Flyers in the first 40 minutes. In the third, the Flyers actually led in shot attempts, 16-6, but shots were of very low quality. The Flyers had just three high-quality scoring chances at 5-on-5 in the game, and none in the final period. The Islanders had four in the game, doing a chunk of their work offensively on the man advantage.