Flyers-Sharks: Postgame Review
It was ugly. Actually, ugly doesn't even begin to describe it. The Flyers took two solid efforts, albeit one win and one loss, into Tuesday's home opener and laid a total egg in their first appearance before the home crowd.
Embarrassing isn't a good enough word for what the Flyers showed on the ice on Tuesday in an 8-2 mauling from the San Jose Sharks.
We break it down further in our Postgame Review of Flyers-Sharks.
- Brian Elliott - If Brian Elliott was the driving force that gave the Flyers a win last Thursday and kept the Flyers in the game on Saturday, he was the reason they fell behind the eight ball so quickly.
The Flyers were pushing the play when a turnover gave San Jose an odd-man rush. You could see the goal for Logan Couture coming. The shot went right through the wickets of Elliott. He needed to stop that one.
Just 11 seconds later, again Elliott helped contribute to a goal, making one save and leaving a rebound in a great scoring position.
From there, I don't think you can fault Elliott on another goal -- all six of them that followed. Each one was the result of a player being left alone in front, getting behind the defense, something that made it such a prime scoring chance. Elliott had to face 23 shots in the first period. It may be a small miracle he only allowed four, that's how bad the team was in front of him. Elliott also saw 17 shots in a third period that started with the Sharks up 5-1. They scored three more times.
Elliott's going to get the night off on Wednesday and probably be back in net on Saturday against Vegas. He's going to need a much better team in front of him to have any shot that afternoon.
- Defensive Coverage Woes - You know in the movie The Mighty Ducks when the District-5 team plays against the Hawks for the first time? That was the Flyers defense on Tuesday night.
It starts at the top for the Flyers in this game. When your best defenseman is minus-3 and is turning the puck over and visibly getting frustrated, you're probably in for a long night. Ivan Provorov had one of his worst games in a long time, and it really went down the line from there.
Andrew MacDonald was exposed in typical fashion. Radko Gudas struggled. Robert Hagg wasn't nearly as physical as he usually is. Shayne Gostisbehere scored on the power play, but defensively struggled as well. Travis Sanheim took a penalty in the third and showed his frustration.
There wasn't a single bright point from the defensive play in this game. The Sharks were able to get easy net-front presence and use it to their advantage. They were a step ahead all night. It was dominance from San Jose in the offensive zone because the Flyers were slow and passive.
- Overpassing - Part of the Flyers problem at the other end of the ice was the Flyers tendency to pass up shooting opportunities. The Flyers finished the game with 33 shots on goal, so it's not like there was a shortage of shot attempts in the game, but they also would get the puck into good scoring areas and start looking for the pass.
During the second period, the Flyers were one goal away from making it a game again. Gostisbehere scored, the Flyers were starting to gain momentum and one goal may change the entire final half of the game. There wasn't one particular moment where the Flyers passed up a shooting opportunity, but if you aren't looking to shoot in that spot, you need to re-evaluate your approach.
The Flyers had a power play in the middle of the second period where they could have grabbed momentum. Instead of trying to work cohesively as a unit, there was too much of an individual attempt to change the course of the game.
Looking back on it, missed opportunities hardly mattered to the final score, but one opportunity here or there could have changed the course of the game.
- Frustration Setting In - It's three games into the season, but you can sense the frustration from, well, everyone.
The players started to let the frustration show on the ice. There was a "here we go again" vibe in the crowd too, like watching a bad movie over and over again. For a team that is supposed to try to take a step forward, this was a firm kick in the rear end and crushing blow that says this isn't going to be easy.
There were a few audible "fire Hakstol" chants during the first period and later in the game. This loss starts at the top and works it way down, and that includes Dave Hakstol and the coaching staff. Yes, the players will say it falls on them for not doing the job, but this looked like a team unprepared for a game, almost too caught up in the pregame fanfare of a home opener to worry about the task at hand. When you aren't prepared to go to work, be hard on the forecheck, win puck battles, skate hard and make smart decisions, you'll get results like that. And that's a coaching issue.
The Flyers have another game on Wednesday night where they can right the ship quickly, but getting into these patterns can make it a long October and force the Flyers to make another uphill climb in pursuit of the playoffs.
- Bright Spots - Two players I thought stood out, especially on the penalty kill, were Michael Raffl and Scott Laughton. Both players got 14 minutes of ice time, but a lot of that was killing off penalties and the usual fourth-line cleanup work.
Still, they were the Flyers best players outside of the netminder doing everything possible to keep the puck out of the net with virtually no help. But that is also where the problem lies. When your best players like Provorov, Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny are performing poorly and almost look disengaged and your best players are your fourth-line, PK guys, you won't get many good results out of that.
By the Numbers
And this is just the heat map at 5-on-5. The Sharks also had two goals on the power play and one while shorthanded. So, yeah, not pretty at all. The Sharks also had 18 high-danger scoring chances in the game. The Flyers had seven, which is typically the norm in a game. The Sharks nearly tripled that.
Stat of the Game
Jordan Weal only saw the ice for 9:45 after being inserted into the lineup for the injured James van Riemsdyk. He was a minus-1 with no shots on goal.
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.