“The morning after” is a review of the previous night’s Flyers’ game which, in theory, provides a more objective perspective on the game.
Hey, did you hear that Simon Gagne returned to Philadelphia last night? I bet you didn’t. It sort of flew by under the radar. Like every other diehard Flyers fan, you were probably too focused on the return of the legendary Randy Jones to notice.
In case you did miss the game, here is the tribute to Gagne, which originally appeared on The 700 Level:
Gagne deserved the standing ovation he received but he was a non-factor on the scoreboard, despite being named the first star of the game. He played well on the penalty kill for Tampa Bay but he did not generate much offense for the team. He finished the night a -1 and has yet to register a point in a Lightning jersey.
The Flyers lost 3-2 to the Bolts and dropped to 2-1-1 on the season.
When you are dealing with a small sample size, getting 5 out of 6 points seems great but, one bad loss later, 5 of 8 points is barely above even. You have to get points where you can but it’s likely that neither set of results is indicative of how the team will finish up their season.
The Flyers had some luck on their side in the previous games. Against St. Louis, they were fortunate to take the team to overtime after the Blues couldn’t capitalize on countless power play opportunities. In the Colorado game, they watched a two goal lead disappear and got a fortunate bounce from a Jeff Carter shot to regain the lead.
Maybe you make your own luck. In the first three games of the season, the team worked hard — but still didn’t play a full 60 minutes — and got good opportunities at even strength and on the penalty kill. As a result, the Flyers came away with two wins, an overtime loss, and have scored as many shorthanded goals as they have given up while being a man down.
The problem is that you can’t make your own luck when you’re standing around and not putting in the work, which is exactly what the Flyers did last night. The team got lazy or complacent and watched the game go by them. They were spectators, squandering multiple good opportunities, including a 5-0n-3 power play only a few minutes into the game.
Mike Richards and Carter looked particularly bad last night after a solid effort against Colorado on Monday.
James van Riemsdyk, Matt Carle, and Braydon Coburn had rough nights as well. Now that Pronger has returned to the lineup, Coburn has disappeared.
Perhaps all the penalty killing is wearing the team down. Blair Betts, who has been hampered by a sore knee, has seen limited ice time. The absence of Ian Laperriere has also had a visible impact on the team.
It might help to play Andreas Nodl over Jody Shelley against the Penguins on Saturday, as he could eat up some ice and relieve some of the top six forwards from penalty killing duties.
On the positive side, Nikolay Zherdev was visible. He netted his first goal as a Flyer and made some dazzling moves on the ice. The goal was the 100th of his NHL career.
Ville Leino looked like he was not laboring as much as he was in previous games and his skating was smoother. The line of Leino, Scott Hartnell, and Danny Briere showed glimpses of their ’10 postseason form.
So far through this young season, Briere has looked like he could live up to the bottom line on his contract.
Kimmo Timonen has been hobbled twice now by pucks that hit him in the leg. Though I am not completely certain of this, I believe he was hit in the same spot both times and I can’t help but wonder if he’s hurt.
It’s not all doom and gloom. This was just one loss, not the end of the world. The Flyers should put this behind them and bounce back on Saturday night.
Some numbers that are hopefully meaningless:
- Though the Flyers have the 4th most power play opportunities in the league, the have the 27th worst percentage (5.9%), scoring on only one of 17 opportunities.
- Jody Shelley is averaging 4:16 of ice time per game. Riley Cote played 3:01 per game last season.
- Dan Carcillo is the only other player who gets under 11 minutes per game, at 8:25. He is also a team worst -3.
For more on the game, see our recap from last night.