“The morning after” is a review of the previous night’s Flyers’ game which, in theory, provides a more objective perspective on the game.
I’m suffering a Philadelphia sports hangover this morning. It feels like I went out to have some good clean fun but someone kept handing me shots of Godlschlager all night. The losses by both the Flyers and Phillies sting.
Going into last night’s sporting festivities, there was no reason the Flyers should have lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Due to numerous injuries, the Penguins were icing more of an AHL supporting cast than they usually do and, in my humble opinion, the Flyers were the better team. They had more depth up front, more depth on the blue line, and the infallible Sergei Bobrovsky was in net. I fully expected that the team would bounce back and play much better than they did in their loss to Tampa Bay.
And they did. Sort of.
The Flyers came out strong out of the gate. The looked stronger and better, like a different team than the one that was on the ice Thursday night. Danny Briere scored a power play goal early in the first to give the Flyers the 1-0 lead. The team was firing on all cylinders. Then someone broke out the Goldschlager. You can never turn back from there.
If I played a drinking game where I had to take a shot every time the team took a bad penalty, I’d be dead right now.
Travis Hughes said it best:
When you take four penalties in just over six minutes of hockey, you’re going to lose. You also don’t take that many penalties without being at least a bit at fault. The Flyers were tonight and as a result, they gift wrapped and hand delivered a hockey game to their biggest rivals.
The Flyers had a golden opportunity to snag two points from the Pittsburgh Penguins last night but, once the parade to the penalty box began, they needlessly forfeited those points. It was the kind of mistake that comes back to haunt them down the stretch.
Despite it all, though, I see a lot of positives in tonight’s lost. Adversity can be a catalyst for growth and it’s important to see how the team responds to it. A good team will bond together and become stronger.
Bobrovsky had his roughest start since coming to the NHL. Although he did let in a few soft goals, he cannot be blamed for the loss. Giving up four goals to the archrival team while the players in front of him left him out to dry will surely test his mettle.
One quarter of the players who dressed for last night’s game are new to the team this season. They may know of the Flyers’ tendencies to slump or be lackadaisical through stretches but the haven’t experienced it first hand. This is a great time for some of those veteran players like Sean O’Donnell and Jody Shelley to step up and show some leadership in the locker room.
When Peter Laviolette was hired, he was known for holding players accountable. Here is his first big chance to do so this season.
If the Flyers view this as an agonizing mistake they’ve made too many times in the past and no longer want to make, than this loss will not be in vain.
For the most part, the players are taking the blame for this loss and recognizing their faults. Mike Richards was the lone voice of dissension. It’s disappointing to see him make excuses but, as crazy as it sounds, I view that as a positive too. Why? Nobody backed him up.
If Richards wants to be the captain of this team, he needs to mature and learn to put such opinions aside. When he calls out the other team, he is going to attract criticism himself. He’s standing one one leg here. It’s an unfortunate growing experience but a growing experience nonetheless.
- Despite only getting 6:41 of ice time last night, Andreas Nodl led the team in hits with three. He generated a couple of nice scoring chances and, in his limited season debut, he was among the best Flyers on the ice. He saw no time on the penalty kill, which is a shame. If he can establish himself there, I think he can carve out a spot on this roster over Shelley or Carcillo.
- Chris Pronger is getting back into form. His ice time isn’t increasing but he looks nastier and is blocking more shots. He led the team with 6 blocked shots last night, which I believe is a season high for any Flyers.
- Four of Jeff Carter’s shots hit the net. One was blocked and eight went wide.
- One player who was conspicuously missing from the PIM column on the stat sheet: Scott Hartnell. Since racking up 21 penalty minutes against the Blues, he has only taken one penalty. It’s the only other penalty he’s taken this season. Believe it or not, Hartnell is playing disciplined hockey.