Flyers vs Sabers recap: things get worse
The Flyers certainly played a game of hockey tonight. It was a pretty tough time for everyone involved outside of the Sabers. What happened in there? I guess you will have to read below.
Aside from Sean Couturier who hit the post in the opening game of the game, the Orange & Blacks came out flat in the first period, playing dump-and-change hockey again and looking nonchalant about the forward chess. For a team that generates the fourth largest share of their shots through forward control or the controlled cycles established by said forward control, this is less than ideal.
Things were chaotic for the first eight minutes or so, but a goal from Sam Reinhart that will end on the Weird NHL blooper reel helped the Sabers take control. Honestly, at this point, the Flyers’ luck this year is comically bad. Braun’s deviation here is some cutting edge “maybe we’re damn” material. It’s depressing to think that after the unlucky 2018-19 season we all went through some time ago, the Flyers are still a cocktail of cosmic humor and searing pain.
After hitting xG breakeven for a few minutes, the Sabers scored again thanks to Curtis Lazar, and from there the shit rolled out for the rest of the first period. It wasn’t a very good start for Justin Braun, whose blocked shot started the game that culminated in Buffalo’s second goal of the night (although, to his credit, he played reasonably well the following partial breakaway. . I have to cover the trailer, boys).
The Flyers didn’t do much for the rest of the first period, as usual. There were chances, goals were almost scored, and none of that mattered because “almost there” just isn’t good enough for this team anymore. When the development period of a gestating nucleus runs out, it is an outcome game and the results are poor.
The Flyers took the reins in the second period, crushing the Sabers in both shooting attempts and xG for the first fourteen minutes or so. The puck recovery on each line was better, the veterans looked dangerous and it helped Buffalo take a penalty early on (a high stick from Tage Thompson). Ivan Provorov managed to make things a bit closer, although it was a bit hazy. In a game where Braun had already scored a counter-goal, a Buffalo counter-goal was only fair trade.
Sadly, these are the 2020-21 Flyers we’re talking about. Someone had to go defensive, and everyone’s least favorite defenseman, Erik Gustafsson, was the player of choice tonight. After floating around and leaving his man visibly open over three or four games, the goose got spunked in front of the net when Steven Fogarty (not related to John) scored his first NHL goal.
The onslaught of horrific defensive play wouldn’t stop there. After a few neutral streaks that were about as much fun as a shine under the nail, the Flyers gave up an entry and kept some pressure on. Justin Braun got caught watching the puck, and Casey Mittelstadt, him of “what a bust” fame, scored a five-hole goal on poor Brian Elliott. Alex Lyon entered the match immediately after. Things weren’t going well, guys.
A Henri Jokiharju delay gave the Flyers a power play with a chance to make things a little more interesting, but alas, Philly couldn’t score despite some quality chances. It should be noted that Alex Lyon made a good stop or two during this time before time expired. Is the answer in net? Probably not, but honestly at this point it can’t be much worse than a team’s standard offerings with a collective save percentage of 0.825 (!) Or more.
The start of the period saw a few notable plays, including a stellar back check from Michael Raffl (recognized player of 500 games) that prevented what likely would have been a big chance for the Sabers. Another “so tight” play came when a pass to a wide-open Travis Sanheim rocked wide. The Flyers clearly looked better on the foredeck (notice how I stress the importance of this), but it all felt like too little, too late.
Claude Giroux and Jeff Skinner got into the boards hard when the captain helped smash a 2v1. Giroux came cautiously and skated to the bench, but looked fine later. Subsequently, Alex Lyon had to make a big stop on a Tobias Rieder shot before being knocked down in the net. Nobody answered. Shocker. The Sabers then switched the game in their favor, racking up shots and generally wreaking havoc in the offensive zone with minimal effort.
Claude Giroux again tried to do it all himself, stealing the puck and getting a nice shot for a rebound, but no one was home to clean up the trash. Alex Lyon continued to make saves that no other Flyers goaltender could provide this season, reinforcing just how terrible this nightmare reality is. When people compare you to the very late Canadiens Michel Therrien, you’ve really hit a new low.
This Flyers team looks like the Habs just before sending Therrien and Julien back to the past.
Just disjointed, nothing seems to be going for hockey.
– Scott Matla (@scottmatla) April 1, 2021
Oh yeah, the Flyers had a power play opportunity at the end of the period thanks to a trip from Tage Thompson. Did it matter? No. Repeated failures on entries and breakouts gave Brandon Montour an empty goal with 5:07 left in the third. For good measure, Montour added another goal on a rebound from Lyon justice, including diving at home in front of a fixing Erik Gustafsson. Pull that Swedish pylon into the sun at this point.
From there everyone just skated and looked like they wanted to come home. Good for the Sabers, to be honest; they deserved to win this game as opposed to the Flyers. Congratulations on not setting the all-time record for futility, I guess. As for Philly, the season has hit a new low, and any worst doubts the fanbase had about this team have been confirmed. They died in the water. Everything sucks.
Three big things
- It’s time to blow things up. As my dad, who rarely texts me in the middle of games, so eloquently put it, “Lackluster. Unstitched. Indifferent. Fundamentals missing. Coverage of area D missing. Thank you, buddy, for succinctly summarizing everyone’s feelings about this team. Players need to be moved, people need to be fired, and a properly placed shred of responsibility needs to be found.
- This season could be even worse, folks. Brace yourself as we go through more upsetting Carter Hart starts, boring quotes from the coaches, and a general lack of anything good happening. That’s what it feels like to be back to the core. I’m sure you are all familiar with that feeling.
- Alex Lyon played well tonight. I would love to see him make another start very soon while Brian Elliott takes a break, but with Carter Hart coming back from his ‘rest and reset’ period I’m not sure that will happen. Kudos to him for coming off the bench and playing a pretty solid game. Made a few big stops, usually no big blunder, etc.
Losing sucks, but this song helps me avoid the special blend of angst it brings.
At the time of the chimpanzees, the Flyers were indeed apes. Good night, and as always, go Flyers.