Flyers-Islanders: Postgame Review
For the second time in the week, the Flyers made the trip to Long Island and put up a four-spot by the early stages of the second period. They cruised to the win from there.
The Flyers didn’t get much help in the playoff race, but did close the margin to five points with another convincing win over the Islanders, and the margin will remain until the team takes the ice again on Monday night.
More in our Postgame Review.
- Center of Attention – Jake Voracek made his return to the lineup and boy, was he the center of attention.The night started with Voracek having another one of those games. After the Flyers weathered the early storm, Voracek played a key part in the Flyers second goal of the game, starting the breakout and getting the puck to Travis Sanheim. Sanheim gained entry and got the puck back to Voracek cutting through the slot. Voracek got a shot on goal that Thomas Greiss couldn’t control and James van Riemsdyk was there in his office to bury the rebound with 3.1 seconds remaining.
It seems like such a simple play, but the timing is what is important. From the end of the Flyers first power play of the game — a terrible one at that with 6:48 remaining — they controlled the rest of the period, getting the game tied and carrying momentum. Goals in the final minute are crushing to the opposition, let alone three seconds from the horn.
Voracek was at it again early in the second, taking another feed from Sanheim after entry and then laying a pass into the wheelhouse for Sean Couturier, who fired a one-timer in to make it 3-1.
Aside from once again contributing offensive with two skill plays — the two assists also got him to 500 points as a Flyer — Voracek was right in the middle of another situation in the third period. Voracek collided with Johnny Boychuk, sending him flying to the ice. Boychuk was quickly approaching Voracek from behind and Voracek, catching sight of Boychuk, appeared to brace himself for impact, so much so that the collision knocked Boychuk to the ice and injured his shoulder. That drew a crowd from the Islanders and it was on from there.
Voracek got a five-minute major for interference, but it was the aftermath that was more important. Boychuk left the ice vowing revenge, pointing across the box at Voracek. When Voracek’s penalty ended, Scott Mayfield made a run at him, ending his night with 12 penalty minutes. During the Flyers power play, Leo Komarov also went after Voracek. Both received roughing penalties.
It overshadowed an otherwise strong game for the Flyers and especially Voracek. And it certainly set the stage for when these two teams meet again on March 23 at Wells Fargo Center.
- Lines Rolling – The Flyers scored five goals in the win from Ryan Hartman, JVR, Couturier, Nolan Patrick and Travis Konecny. That’s all four lines contributing.Hartman got the scoring started and a fourth-line goal is always welcome. Ivan Provorov did a lot of the hard work on the rush, but Hartman stayed with his chance and batted in the rebound. It was Hartman’s first goal as a Flyer.
JVR’s goal came with 3.1 seconds left in the first period. Couturier’s goal came 1:34 into the second period.
Patrick was in the right place to get a centering feed from Claude Giroux after Giroux missed on a close chance.
Konecny’s goal was the help of a contribution from linemate Scott Laughton. Phil Myers got caught after missing the catch on a lofted puck and the Islanders were heading the other way with numbers. Laughton got back and managed to disrupt the play, sending the Flyers back in transition with a 3-on-1 after Shayne Gostisbehere poked the puck ahead to Konecny. Konecny took it the rest of the way, snapping a shot past Greiss.
At this stage of the season, it’s not just about the scoring. You need all four lines to play a part and provide the effort that leads to goals. To see all four lines finish on a goal shows signs of a complete game, and the Flyers certainly played with that complete effort over the better part of the first half of the game.
- Penalty Kill – The Flyers had to survive two big tests on the penalty kill. The Flyers didn’t face a shorthanded situation until after they established a 4-1 lead, but there was plenty of chances for the Islanders to get right back into the game.Hartman took an unnecessary tripping penalty to put the Islanders on the power play. Just 26 seconds into the kill, Couturier took a high-sticking penalty too. Now it was 1:34 of 5-on-3 time that could have easily allowed the Islanders to climb right back in.
Brian Elliott got the benefit of a quick whistle on the first real chance of the power play. Elliott was scrambling during the remainder of the power play, but some great defensive work, especially from Hartman after exiting the box, helped the Flyers kill it off.
Similarly, the Islanders had three minutes of unlimited power play time after the major to Voracek, where they could score at will and remain at 5-on-4. Again, credit the Flyers excellent PK work for getting the job done.
- Second Half Success Continues – Hartman may be new to this game, but the other four Flyers goal scorers have been getting it done for several weeks now.van Riemsdyk was sitting at six goals entering play on Jan. 10. Since then, a 25-game span, he has 14 goals to bring his season total to 20. This comes after an injury derailed the start of his season. He’s been impressive doing what he was brought in to do lately.
Couturier might just end up topping some career numbers from a season ago. His goal was his 28th of the season, three shy of his career-high 31 from last season. He’s also up to 64 points, just 12 away from matching the 76 he posted a year ago. I’ve said this before, but last season was no fluke for him. He’s arguably been the Flyers best forward this season, which says a lot considering his slow start to the year while still in the final stages of recovering from injury.
Patrick’s goal was his 13th, matching his total from his rookie season. He did not look out of place on a line with Giroux and JVR either. For as much as the focus was on Voracek’s return, Patrick’s presence was missed for those two games as well.
Finally, Konecny continues to put together a strong second half. Konecny now has 11 goals in the last 21 games, half of his goals in the 2018-19 season. He’s also become more of a catalyst when it comes to the physical play and being a pest on the ice. It wasn’t nearly as present in this game, but he’s been more of a leader since Wayne Simmonds was traded.
- Playoff Race Update – The good part was that the Flyers did what they had to do to keep rolling in the playoff race. They got a win and two more points in the standings. That moved them to within five points on idle Montreal.Unfortunately, the gap between the Flyers and Columbus remained at five as well, with Columbus defeating Pittsburgh, 4-1. The gap to Carolina increased to seven with their 5-3 win over Nashville. Carolina actually moved back into third in the Metropolitan Division with the win and Pittsburgh’s regulation loss.
With 14 games remaining, the Flyers are five points back of Montreal with one more head-to-head and one game in hand. They are five points back of Columbus and both have played 68 games. They are seven points back of Pittsburgh with one head-to-head left to play. They are seven points back of Carolina with two head-to-head matchups still left.
The good news for the Flyers is that Pittsburgh is the only team playing on Sunday, and they get the red-hot Boston Bruins, who have points in 19 straight games, 15 of them wins. On Monday, Columbus will play the Islanders and Carolina will face Colorado while the Flyers host lowly Ottawa. Montreal is idle until Tuesday, when they face Detroit. Columbus will face Boston and Pittsburgh will face Washington on Tuesday as well.
Bottom line, there are windows of opportunity to narrow the gap over the next few days while all of these teams face tough competition as well. The Flyers could possibly be three points out of a playoff spot by the end of Monday night.
By the Numbers
You rarely see second periods like this. The Flyers had a 30.3 CF%, a 23-10 disadvantage in shot attempts, and scored three goals to take a commanding 5-1 lead. While the second period dictates the overall advanced stats for the game, the Flyers did have the edge in shot attempts in the first and third periods.
Stat of the Game
Both Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim finished plus-4 in the game on Saturday night. Provorov was also a plus-4 in Sunday’s win against the Islanders, making him plus-8 over the two games against the Islanders this week. Sanheim was a plus-2 on Sunday, making him a plus-6 in the two games. It brought Provorov’s plus/minus to minus-10 on the season and Sanheim’s to plus-3.
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.