Pod Street Postgame : “Hart”-less Loss to Buffalo

In the Flyers first game against the Buffalo Sabres, the squad looked flat from the drop of the puck. The Sabres outplayed Philadelphia in every aspect of the game, winning every puck battle, swarming the puck carrier, and creating off man rushes against the defenseman and Hart. Scoring was started in the first period with Curtis Lazar of the Sabres with a nasty backhand over Hart’s right shoulder. 

Being outplayed in the first period, the Flyers needed a well deserved fifteen-minute intermission, where coach Alain Vigneault should have berated them. Early in the second period, Carter Hart was assessed a tripping penalty, and the Sabres went on the powerplay. With 45 seconds left in the man advantage, Sam Reinhart tallied his first goal of the season. Shortly after the powerplay goal, Reinhart tallied his second off an embarrassing Flyers defensive play where they all stared at the puck in the corner.

Still in the second period, Flyers down 3-0, Buffalo didn’t relieve any pressure and found themselves burying another goal on Carter Hart. Curtis Lazar scored his second of the night at the 8:09 mark in the second period. To stop the pain, Alain Vigneault decided to pull Carter Hart in relief of Brian Elliott. This would be the end to the bleeding as the Flyers hung on to the 4-0 deficit heading into the third period.

The Philadelphia Flyers started off the third period with strong forechecking and shooting the puck at the net. Carter Hutton in white for the Buffalo Sabres was a brick wall. After half the period had expired, the Buffalo Sabres found the back of the net again to make it 5-0. Henri Jokiharju backhanded the puck towards the net from the sidewall, and it just squeaked past Elliot. Nic Aube-Kubel decided to finally show up for the Flyers and posted a goal in the final two minutes of the games. The Sabres didn’t stop after that when Victor Olofsson potted another powerplay goal late in the third period for a final score of 6-1. 

Philadelphia Versus Buffalo : Three Observations

Slow Start to Slow Finish

This start for the Orange and Black looked similar to those of seasons past. The opponent comes out ready to play, and the Flyers look like they just woke up from an all-nighter bender. As soon as the Sabres scored a goal, it seemed like the Flyers were deflated, and with every goal following, it was as if Buffalo took the sabres off their logo and kept stabbing. 

    The Flyers fooled us as fans thinking that the slow starts were a thing of the past. As soon as they start flat-footed, they can never recover and pick up the pace to catch up. As Scott Hartnell once said, “It looks like the Flyers are out there playing SHINNY hockey.” They didn’t show up to play against the Sabres, and the Sabres exploited every play the Flyers tried to make. Even the slow play put our beloved mascot to sleep. 

If it weren’t for the Flyers having to play the second half of this back to back against the Sabres, AV probably would have bag skated the jockstraps off of this team. But instead, they will have to get rested for their next matchup against the same team, and fans can only hope that they come out a lot hotter than they did tonight.

When’s the “SHOOT” sound byte coming?

If you’ve never been to a Philadelphia Flyers home game at the Wells Fargo Center, then you are sincerely missing out on one of the most annoying things that make home, home. The Flyers have been outshot in their first three home games, 103-69. Yes, they were able to come away with wins in the first two games against the Penguins, but if you aren’t shooting, you aren’t scoring. 

Someone must know Lou Nolan and persuade him to start playing a recording of Flyers fans screaming “SHOOOOOOT!” at their favorite players in the Orange and Black. Our annoying screams and chants probably don’t even make it down to the ice playing level, but this team seriously needs to learn to start shooting the puck more. Instead, they cross the blue line and dump the puck in the opposite corner, and the defenseman turns the puck the other way. 

It might be time for the coaches to bring out the “Shooter Tutor” at practices and have the squad rip shots all day. They’ve got to start shooting more to keep up with this highly skilled East division competition. They can’t rely on the goalies to bail them out night in and night out. 

Is the Defensive Horse dead yet?

Let’s hope that this defensive core doesn’t become the laughing stock of the entire NHL. With the recent retirement of Matt Niskanen, the defense looks completely lost without him. This shouldn’t come to a surprise to any Flyers fan that can objectively watch the game and see how bad this core has become. 

The blown coverages, lost puck battles, and blind passes that lead to giveaways need to absolutely stop. If they continue, the rest of the East division is going to eat up every little exploit of the defense and make them pay. The Flyers blueliners have become too dependent on Carter Hart bailing them out on every odd-man rush or breakaway. That needs to stop now. They need to help their goaltender, especially with all of the shots they have allowed in their first three games. 

Gustafsson gave the puck away way too many times tonight, Hagg iced the puck in unnecessary situations, Sanheim jumped in the offensive zone too much, leaving Myers out to dry, Myers decided that he didn’t want to use that big dumb body of his, Braun doesn’t belong on a Top 4 pairing, and Provorov had an overall sloppy game. Is the horse dead yet? This core needs to start waking up and doing their jobs because if they don’t, this season will be a long one.

Final Thoughts

The only silver lining that came from this embarrassing game was the fourth line of NAK, Raffl and Laughton. They were consistently in on the forecheck and creating offensive opportunities including the Flyers lone goal of the game. Arguably one of the best fourth lines in the NHL, this line proved why they are one of the best in their play tonight. The NAK/Raffl/Laughton line is going to continually get better as the season goes on. 

Hart getting pulled in tonight’s game isn’t ideal due to Elliott supposed to be the starter in tomorrow’s game. It is much easier for a goalie to enter a game well-rested than having played half a game the night before. Let’s see how Elliott responds in tomorrow night’s game against the Sabres. 

Tomorrow’s game is an opportunity to show the Buffalo Sabres who the Philadelphia Flyers really are. AV and company are absolutely upset about how they play tonight and that emotion is absolutely going to translate into tomorrow night’s game. Claude Giroux was visibly annoyed all game, so expect him to have a breakout game tomorrow night. 

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire

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