THE FLYERS TOOK DOWN THE CHAMPS INDEED! FLYERS 5 - AVALANCHE 3 HIGHLIGHTS - INSIGHTS - BREAKDOWNS
BY DAVID MCLEOD
Fate was on the Flyers side tonight, as they weathered a late storm from the Avalanche and held off the defending champions 5-3, earning Carter Hart a much needed win.
1. Special Teams:
Avalanche entered the contest with the top power play in the NHL, clicking at a ridiculously efficient 32.5%. The Flyers were on the opposite end of the spectrum, occupying the basement in the NHL at 14.1%.
It only took 3:50 for Cale Makar to make his inevitable impact on the game, as he wasn't pressured on the power play and had all the time he wanted to find a lane and make a play. Makar fired a quick wrist shot at Carter Hart and Alex Newhook was left untouched in front, tipping the shot past Hart.
The Flyers responded with their own power play goal on a similar play to that of Makar. Morgan Frost ran an effective setup off of the half wall and moved the puck to Tony DeAngelo at the top of the umbrella. DeAngelo sifted across the zone and found a clean shooting lane with a perfect screen set by Noah Cates. Georgiev didn't battle to find the puck and DeAngelo beat him clean on the short side.
Owen Tippett gave the Flyers a comfortable lead (at the time) midway through the third period after Lukas Sedlak drew a penalty on Makar. Scott Laughton missed the short side on a one timer and the puck caromed off the end boards perfectly to Tippett, who ripped it past a sprawling Georgiev
Tippett's goal proved to be extremely important, as the Avalanche sniped two late goals with under two and half minutes left.
The Flyers adjusted well after the initial failure on the penalty kill and closed up their gap control on the puck. As they have all season long, the Flyers continued to sacrifice their bodies and got in the shooting lanes to block multiple shots. Rasmus Ristolainen earned his money on the PK blocking a slew of shots and disrupting the Avalanche by hitting everyone in site.
The absence of Nathan MacKinnon, who exited the game in the first period after tweaking something in his left hip area, didn't hurt the Flyers penalty kill. MacKinnon had already compiled 13 points on the power play this season, including 4 goals.
Not rebounding in the traditional sense, but rebounding from a mental perspective. Carter Hart places a tremendous amount of pressure on responsibility on himself and he kept the Flyers in the game early and often. Hart looked dialled in and battled to make saves. Despite the two late goals, on defensive coverage that will certainly be addressed by John Tortorella, Hart was fabulous.
Hart made a phenomenal sprawling save on Martin Kaut breakaway; a clear turning point in the game that preserved the Flyers 2 goal lead heading into the third period.
Hart wasn't done there:
Perhaps his biggest save of the night came against Makar, who eluded Owen Tippett on an ill advised step up and drove the net on a partial break. Hart took away the bottom of the net on Makar and challenged him enough to alter his ability to go top shelf with the shot.
Hart made 29 saves on 32 shots and landed first star of the game.
3: Points From The Blue Line:
Travis Sanheim took full advantage of an odd decision by Mikko Rantanen to abandon the defensive zone to retrieve a stick. Sanheim was able to pick up an easy feed from Scott Laughton and aggressively took advantage of the open ice in front him; sliding to the slot and blistering a shot past Alexandar Georgiev.
As mentioned above, Tony DeAngelo scored the 3rd goal on the power play and was creating offense all night with crafty touch passes and his exceptional vision on the ice.
The Flyers defense could be seen on multiple occasions jumping into the rush and cycling low in the offensive zone, something the Flyers forwards did a perfect job of covering, (except Tippett pinching in the neutral zone perhaps!) The Flyers D had four points on the night, with goals from Sanheim and DeAngelo, and assists to Provorov and Sanheim.
If the Flyers are going to generate looks with all of their injuries, the defense will need to be engaged. Sanheim has been noticeably stronger the past two weeks and has notched 7 points in his last 7 games.
4: Transition Game:
The Colorado Avalanche play an aggressive, fast game and if you can take advantage of their pressure by disrupting entries and passes and make quick ups with the puck, opportunities will be available. Patrick Brown pressed up high and got himself in the shooting lane of Jacob MacDonald's snap shot and corralled the loose puck and fed it to Joel Farabee. Farabee flew the zone and led the 2 on 1, along with Tanner Laczynski, who attacked with speed. Farabee made a perfect read on the break and fired a shot along the ice, which resulted in a greasy rebound being kicked out. Laczynski beat the Avalanche back checkers to the spot and tapped in his 2nd goal of the season.
The Flyers continued their quick transitions throughout the game and did not give up many opportunities to the Avalanche in their transition game. The Flyers supported their defense well and took away options for the puck carrier.
5: Eased The Worry!
Travis Konecny and Kevin Hayes combined to ease some nervous fans with an empty netter, padding Hayes' stats on the year.
Hayes picked up two helpers on the night to slightly eclipse his point per game average and stun many a fan; myself excluded.
«Big Tipper» landed the much coveted player of the game, as awarded by his peers.
Tippett took advantage of his limited ice time, mainly due to the time the Flyers spent killing penalties, by tallying a power play goal on two shots and five hits.
The Flyers will play host to Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals on Wednesday and will look for retribution for their overtime loss.
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