Flyers-Senators: Postgame Review
It wasn't the prettiest game, but the Flyers got the result they needed in response to an 8-2 drubbing on Tuesday night, defeating the Ottawa Senators, 7-4, on Wednesday night.
There were some sloppy moments and areas of struggle that will be a concern moving forward, but for now, embrace the result after a pathetic effort one night earlier.
Takeaways from Wednesday's win in Ottawa in our Postgame Review.
- Take the Points - Considering the opponent, the Flyers should have gone into Ottawa and won the game. If there was such a thing as a perfect team to play following a loss like the one the Flyers endured on Tuesday, this was it.
There were still defensive lapses. The penalty kill is a completely different story, which we'll get to later. The Flyers still struggled to clear the puck and turned it over too many times. They took too many penalties in a sloppy game.
But if there was ever a night when none of it really mattered, this is it.
Look, the league as a whole is prone to these high-scoring games. Defense seems very optional to start the season for a lot of teams. Perhaps more importantly than the mistakes was the Flyers not letting it snowball. Ottawa didn't have a big period where they scored three or four goals like they could have. The Flyers limited the damage. They got better at even strength defensively as the game went on as well.
So baby steps. An effort like this probably won't beat Vegas on Saturday, but it was good enough to get you back in the win column and remove Tuesday's mess from your head. That was as important in the here and now as cleaning up the other areas is to the rest of the season.
- Passive PK - The penalty kill is a huge problem. The Flyers have their moments during the penalty kill. I think Michael Raffl has been great there so far and Scott Laughton does an excellent job staying active and pursuing as well. But defensively, the Flyers are way too passive. The forwards aren't forcing mistakes out at the top of the blue line. The defensemen are allowing easy real estate in front of the net.
Ottawa was 3-for-7 on the power play. That kind of percentage will kill your season.
This really isn't a player problem anymore. It's a system problem. What the Flyers are doing now on the PK is what they did last year...and the year before that...and the year before that. You know the one common denominator? Ian Laperriere behind the bench. Something has to change. It won't be a coaching change in season, so it has to be the approach, the strategy and the execution.
- Pickard Picks Up a Win - This marked the first game where the Flyers didn't go with Brian Elliott in goal and that was to be expected after leaving him in for the duration of Tuesday's 8-2 loss. That meant newcomer Calvin Pickard was going to get the start.
It's hard to fault him on any goal since three of them came on the power play. The first goal was a double deflection off skates at the front of the net. Not much else he could have done. Both of Maxime Lajoie's goals were on rebounds after making tough initial saves. You could say he should have stopped Brady Tkachuk's second goal, but that was a good goal for the youngster.
Pickard had to make several difficult saves and right from the start, being put in the same situation as Elliott in the first three games. He was solid and got the job done.
- Power Play Starts Clicking - We all know the first power play unit has scoring potential and that goes far beyond the two goals they actually scored. On the first power play, the setup was there and Wayne Simmonds was robbed with the pad of Craig Anderson twice. Shayne Gostisbehere is firing away. Claude Giroux is looking dangerous. Even Jake Voracek seemed to be in shoot first mode at times.
But what was more impressive was how the second power play unit looked. Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim shared the blue line and both seem to have good chemistry to move the puck effectively near the line. Oskar Lindblom lingers at the netfront and is always a threat. Mikhail Vorobyev has the smarts. Travis Konecny has the speed and the shot.
In the first three games, the Flyers second unit didn't show much because they got limited time. This was the first time the first unit stuck to the first minute of the power play before making the necessary change to get the second unit time to actually set up and create opportunities. They may not have scored, but this group, as young as it is, has goals in them.
- Energy Line - You could sense the collective eye roll of Flyers fans when Dale Weise was inserted into the lineup for Jordan Weal. Yet, Weise had one of his stronger games.
The fourth line is supposed to be your energy line. When it contributes offensively, it's a bonus. Raffl continues to be a luxury on that line. Weise also had two assists to chip in. Even Jori Lehtera had his moments in the game. When you're able to get something out of all four lines in a game, no matter how small the contribution may be, it's a great sign. The Flyers lost Nolan Patrick early with an upper-body injury early and had to shuffle the lines throughout. No problem. Vorobyev took shifts with Raffl and Weise. Lehtera played on the second line at times and held his own.
It's a great team effort when the rest of the team is contributing offensively and the fourth line is still chipping in somehow.
By the Numbers
Ottawa had the best possession numbers, but the Flyers slowly took over the second period at 5-on-5 and scored all three goals in the period at even strength. The Flyers finished the second ahead in shot attempts, 16-15, but made their chances count.
Stat of the Game
Voracek had his first career five-point game, scoring two goals and adding three assists.