Flyers Keep Moving Up Despite Not Playing Their Best Game
When the dust settled from Tuesday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the scoreboard read 5-1 in favor of the Flyers. It hardly felt like a game that the Flyers had won by four goals in rather convincing fashion.
Defensively, the Flyers may have allowed 29 shots, but many of those were not too dangerous and came late in the game when the Flyers had the result well in hand. But the Flyers managed just 15 shots and still managed to net five goals.
There was certainly a little luck on their side. Kevin Hayes opened the scoring with a goal that banked off the skate of defenseman Andrew Peeke and the head and back of goalie Elvis Merzlikins. Sean Couturier scored on a breakaway without getting a true shot off. Phil Myers scored in the second period on another shot off a skate.
Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good, but it felt like in this game, the Flyers were also creating their own luck by getting into scoring areas and taking advantage of opportunities.
“We came into this knowing that we were playing against a real strong checking team, and we'd have to make plays with the puck,” Alain Vigneault said. “Unfortunately, there's a couple times there where we didn't make the right play. It didn't lead to a tremendous amount of opportunities, but we knew that there was still a better play to be made. But, at the end of the day you’re going to capitalize or get bounces on a couple of looks which we did and were able to, at the beginning of the third there to put that game away.”
“We didn’t get a lot of pucks on net, but we took advantage of our opportunities,” Travis Konecny said. “There’s definitely some areas we can clean up and going into the next game, I’m sure they know their best effort wasn’t there and ours wasn’t there either and it should be a good match up.”
The first two goals for the Flyers came in the first five minutes of the game, setting the tone for the rest of the night. Columbus finished with 29 shots in the game, but went nearly the first 10 minutes of the game without a shot on goal and had just three in the first 20 minutes.
“We did a good job of limiting them to not many opportunities,” Carter Hart said, “and when they did get opportunities we made sure that they didn’t get any second looks and they did a good job boxing guys out, getting in lanes and getting sticks on pucks.”
It may not have been the Flyers typical offensive night for the Flyers by quantity of shots, but it was the type of night the Flyers had been able to have in the past when they are taking full advantage of the opportunities in front of them. It marked the 12th time this season the Flyers have scored five or more goals in a game and the fourth time in nine games this month.
Despite their struggles to establish their typical gameplan, the Flyers did once again handle the task in front of them. They bounced back from a loss in their previous game. They have not lost back-to-back games since their 1-4-1 road trip ended with a four-game losing streak. They also handled business against a battered Columbus Blue Jackets team that was missing several top players, including All-Star defenseman Seth Jones, forward Cam Atkinson and goalie Joonas Korpisalo.
The win in regulation was exactly the result the Flyers needed. It moved them ahead of Columbus in the standings and helped them vault over the New York Islanders as well, moving into third place in the Metropolitan Division with 22 games remaining on the schedule.
“It’s exciting. We like the way we are playing right now,” Claude Giroux said. “Everyone’s buying in right now. We’re having a great time doing it. Games like tonight against teams that we're in the race with, they are really big. Now we have to go in their building. We’ll have to play better if we want to win.”
It was a special night for Giroux. For one, the Flyers captain has played a big role in the last six games, recording at least one point in each and totaling three goals and eight assists in that time. An assist on Jake Voracek’s power-play goal to cap the scoring in the third made Giroux the Flyers all-time leader in power-play assists, passing Bobby Clarke.
“Bobby Clarke did a lot for this organization. To be able to do that, it means a lot,” Giroux said. “I had a lot of help the whole time I was here on the power play. I played with great players and a lot of different players. We were able to get on the same page.”
“He’s the captain of this team, without a doubt,” Vigneault said. “We look to his leadership. We look to his role model. As far as helping veteran guys and young guys, and there’s no doubt that he’s a big part of this team. His will to win, his will to leave a better legacy is evident. That’s what we’re all striving for.”
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.