The Flyers have finally managed to win a hockey game.
It feels like a month since fans have able to say that, probably because the Flyers have not actually had a victory since Remembrance Day, or Veterans Day in America. The Flyers finally managed to get back in the win column yesterday with a 5-2 win over the Calgary Flames on the road in Alberta. Fans may not be running to the casinos to bet on a winning streak—although our partners at OddsDigger can give insightful ice hockey betting tips for any casual gambling enthusiast—but this game finally put a sweet taste in the mouths of the orange and black faithful.
Now, the performance may have been generally uninspired and relied more on puck luck, and Calgary being more bad than the Flyers being good. However, after such a long drought I think everyone will be more than satisfied nonetheless.
Let us start with the positives, chief among them, Brian Elliot. Elliot looked solid for the whole game, and he looked as good as he has for the entirety of the Flyers’ skid. Elliot has not been the issue throughout the last 10 games, but it is nice to see him grab a win after being given virtually no run support for the last month. Another positive is the trio of Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek, even after being split up. Voracek slid down to the second line and was arguably was the Flyers best player, working well in tandem with Val Filppula and Michael Raffl, both whom tallied a goal and an assist each, while Voracek himself continued to shine, bagging three assists, bringing his point total to an impressive 33 in 27 games. Giroux and Coots were a little quieter, with only one point between them, but they did not look lost after the “Gingerbread Men” were split up. Thankfully, the line jumbling worked for more than just the Flyers top three forwards, which resulted in three of the four lines scoring a goal, a sight rarely seen so far this season.
However, this game was far from perfect. The Flyers were out shot 45-21, further highlighting just how good Elliot was on the night, but also showing that the Flyers were not in control of this game. There were also some ugly turnovers on the defensive end, and the Flyers only mustered 21 shots which is less than ideal to be sure.
Coach Dave Hakstol managed to mix up the lines, which is not surprising during such a long losing streak, and for the most part he did a commendable job. Simmonds, up with Couturier and Giroux, is a good way to kick-start his season, and even though it may have been on the Power Play, he did score, which has been rare for the past month. The second line was a little bit of a stretch as Filppula playing in the top six has always been a point of contention with many fans, but with the right line mates he has shown he can make it work, as he did last night with Voracek and Raffl. Similarly, to Simmonds, moving Raffl up in the lineup helped get him going as well, managing to get a goal and an assist. This line managed to combine for eight points, and was by far the most effective.
The fourth line was again mixed up, and while ideally it would be nice to see Jordan Weal in a place which he can produce more, the trio of Weal, Laughton and Leier looked absolutely chaotic, and as long as four lines are rolled somewhat evenly and these three can pick up somewhere around 12 minutes a night, they have the look of a speedy and effective fourth line.
Speaking of playing time, looking at the third line, consisting of Nolan Patrick, Travis Konecny and, surprisingly, Dale Weise, this line was pretty average but really that is secondary to the real issue that is the ice time of Nolan Patrick and Travis Konecny. Throughout the season it has been a struggle for Patrick to get acclimated to the flow of the NHL, as his injuries before and during the season have made the already difficult process even harder for the rookie.
In Konecny’s case, he has just been plain snake-bitten, he has had some terrible luck despite doing everything right on the offensive end to get to the positions he needs in order to score, and he just cannot seem to finish. Konecny has hit multiple posts, has been robbed and had just about everything that can prevent a goal happen to him. Now what is Dave Hakstol’s idea for reinvigorating these two first round picks? Play them with Dale Weise, who’s only positive contribution to the Flyers last game was getting absolutely obliterated leading to a five-minute power play.
Above all these issues though is the result. The Flyers won a hockey game, and it was fun to see a little bit of life come into the team after such a long skid. These next 10 games will be crucial for the Flyers season, if they look to rebound and establish themselves in the playoff race, then they will gain some momentum going into 2018. If they continue to trade wins and losses, then this dry spell may be catastrophic. However, there is hope, they won 10 games in a row last year and missed the playoffs, and it would be in typical Flyers fashion for them to lose 10 in a row and make it.
Featured Image: Heather Barry/ Flickr Creative Commons