The Flyers trip to Lake Tahoe was less of a working vacation and more of a beautiful nightmare.
They entered the game down Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Travis Konecny, Scott Laughton, Oskar Lindblom, and Justin Braun. Then the game was moved to 2 pm Sunday afternoon. Then the Saturday contest between Las Vegas and Colorado was delayed, so the Flyers were moved back to 7 pm. Then back to 7:30, then 7:50.
The Flyers finally started action against the Boston Bruins outdoors on a shadow and sun-drenched rink and gave up a goal less than a minute into the game. A blocked Phil Myers shot turned into a bounce pass from Patrice Bergeron lead to a 2 on 1 opportunity for Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. A Marchand pass and Pastrnak one-timer started the scoring for Boston.
The Flyers responded with the kind of goal that can only happen in an outdoor game. James van Riemsdyk passed off the puck to Sean Couturier, and his corner dump popped right out in front of the net. A pressuring Joel Farabee adjusted, fell, but managed to slide the puck through Tukka Rask’s wickets to tie the game up. It was Farabee’s 8th goal of the season, matching his entire total from last year.
The Flyers were able to match pace and wits with the Bruins in the first period. They even outshot the Bruins in the 1st and seemed to drive play. They even took a lead. They were able to create a net mouth scramble off of a surprise 3 on 2 when Couturier popped out of the box and joined the rush with Kevin Hayes and JVR. It was Couturier who eventually threw the puck into the net for the lead.
It would not last. Less than a minute later, Conor Clifton got the puck to Brad Marchand who fended off the much bigger Phil Myers, and got the puck to Charlie McAvoy who fired a slap shot past Carter Hart. It was a saveable shot and one of a few that Hart would allow. Not being able to practice on the rink and learn the lines of sight clearly had an impact on him, as well as the dominance of the Bruins once the 2nd period rolled around.
Pastrnak scored again, less than a minute into the 2nd period. Then Charlie Coyle with around 4 left in the period. Trent Fredric got his first NHL goal around 30 seconds later. Then a penalty was called for a cross-check just after the goal was scored. Nick Ritchie nailed the power-play opportunity. The Bruins totaled 15 shots in the middle segment of the game while the Flyers managed just 3.
In the 3rd period, the Flyers converted on a power-play opportunity. A faceoff win got the puck back to Provorov, who slid it down to Kevin Hayes. He put a shot near the net, and JVR deflected it through his legs and off the defender’s legs for his 8th of the year. The Bruins would add one more goal for good measure, and it would be the hat trick for Pastrnak on a one-timer he bounced off Brian Elliot and in.
The Flyers were overmatched by the Bruins coming into the game. They were thrown off-kilter by not being able to practice beforehand and having the time changed three times. Then the young goalie had some growing pains. The Bruins own the Flyers and Hart this year, and it is a bit of a rough stretch for them. The Flyers winning this game was likely the longshots of longshots in terms of random NHL regular-season games.
The real issue that arises from this loss is the lack of step up. Hart on national TV against his foes couldn’t find a way to step up and instead folded. The defense, the only unit that is really intact, was unable to hold off the Bruins offense. The forwards are a mixed bag. Sam Morin still isn’t a forward yet. Maks Sushko was in his 2nd game. Andreoff is a fringe NHL forward. Mark Friedman, a defenseman, was playing winger. So that’s at least 4 guys who shouldn’t be there who all got at least 10 minutes of ice time. The top-flight guys were able to produce, but there was no step up from the next tier. Nolan Patrick hasn’t notched a point since January 26th. That’s an 8 game streak. The defensemen who we’ve come to expect or want offense from (Sanheim, Myers, and Gostisbehere) aren’t regular contributors.
The Flyers seemed lost for a period of time this season but still managed to win. Then they looked as if they were getting things together when they ran into their COVID bump. The major test for them and what will likely dictate the remainder of their season is how they bounce back from this point on in the season.
The Flyers will resume play Wednesday at 7:30 pm against the Rangers.
Header Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)