Welcome to the Pod Street Postgame! On a Saturday matinee, the Flyers met with the Buffalo Sabres for the first time since January 19th. Key players for both teams were missing from this afternoon’s game. Jack Eichel missed his second game due to an injury that has him listed as day to day. Phil Myers was listed as a healthy scratch this afternoon which led to Justin Braun seeing his first game since coming off of the COVID-19 list. This is also the first game that Scott Laughton, Jake Voracek and Oskar Lindblom have played since being put on the COVID-19 list.
The first period leaned in favor of the Philadelphia Flyers as they took a 1-0 lead late on a great pinching play by Travis Sanheim to set up Sean Couturier for a one-timer. The Flyers continued their shoot-first mindset from Wednesday night’s game as they lead the shots column 11-6. Buffalo had decent chances in the period but Brian Elliott kept blanking them.
The Flyers continued to keep the pressure on the Sabres in the second period as they went on to take a 3-0 lead. Goals scored by Shayne Ghostisbehere, his second of the season in just as many games, and Scott Laughton. They continued to keep peppering shots on Hutton, forcing him to make some unbelievable saves to keep the Sabres in the game. Brian Elliott once again stood on his head as the Sabres had more high risk chances.
Brian Elliot is currently riding a two game shutout streak against the Buffalo Sabres as he blanked them to a 3-0 win. He turned away 23 shots on net while the team in front of him was able to put away three goals on Carter Hutton. Hopefully the high of today’s win will carry over into tomorrow afternoon’s game.
It is undeniable that 2020 Selke Trophy winning center Sean Couturier is a game changer when he is in the lineup for the Philadelphia Flyers. Since his return from the Costochondral separation in the second game of the season, Couturier has been on beast mode. In five games since his return, Couturier has posted four goals and five assists for nine points.
Without Coots, the penalty kill and defensive play diminishes extensively. Lately, the Flyers penalty kill has been in the basement of the league and has not been doing their job. During this afternoon’s game, the PK was able to do their job by killing off the league’s hottest powerplay. This does not happen without the smart, decisive playmaking of Sean Couturier who plays the majority of minutes on penalty kills.
His goal and assist in today’s tilt continues the point streak and further proves how important Couturier is when he is in the lineup. His chemistry with Joel Farabee and James van Riemsdyk has been unreal which leads to the next takeaway of the game.
The Covid Line
Since being put on Covid-19 protocol, Lindblom, Laughton and Voracek had missed four games since the February 7th tilt against the Washington Capitals. Since Alain Vigneault didn’t want to split up the chemistry of the lines that were producing during their absence, he decided to keep the three together on the same line. Even though they missed at least two weeks of play, they all picked up where they left off.
The Covid Line’s chemistry sparked immediately in today’s matinee as their passes were crisp and on the tape for each other. Whenever they were on the ice, they had consistent pressure in Buffalo’s defensive zone. In their return back, they all recorded a point as both Voracek and Lindblom assisted on Scott Laughton’s breakaway goal.
With AV’s new look line and their shared chemistry, don’t expect the Covid Line to be broken up anytime soon. In fact, all of the lines that Vigneault has pieced together since their COVID-19 pause have looked phenomenal. The Center Line of Giroux, Hayes and Patrick and the Covid Line of Lindblom, Laughton and Voracek have all produced since their inception.
The Flyers were given three powerplay chances this afternoon against the Sabres and didn’t capitalize on a single one of them. Their passing looked decent while they were out there but for whatever reason, they weren’t able to turn their passes into shots on net. They are currently 16th in the league for capitalizing on the powerplay, which needs to be better.
At times during this game, the five-on-five play looked more like a powerplay sequence than the actual powerplay did. At one point during this game, the Flyers were able to successfully make three line changes while sustaining pressure against the Sabres in the offensive zone. If they are able to do that during five-on-five, then they should be able to sustain pressure on the powerplay as well.
The powerplay has become a hot topic since the early playoff exit last year and rightly so. They have struggled on the powerplay and nothing has been changed to correct it. Yeah, there have been different faces on the powerplay units, but those mixups still haven’t been able to produce much. Alain Vigneault and company need to figure it out.
This afternoon’s game was the first game in a long time that the Flyers dominated throughout the entire 60 minutes of play. Stellar goaltending from Brian Elliott and shutdown defense propelled this team to their second shutout of the season.
Even with Elliott’s consistent play against the Sabres, AV will still start Carter Hart in tomorrow afternoon’s game. With the condensed schedule having six games in nine nights, Vigneault couldn’t stress enough how important it is to depend on both of your goaltenders. The Flyers will once again meet the Buffalo Sabres tomorrow afternoon in less than 24 hours.
That’s your Pod Street Postgame for the February 27th tilt against the Sabres. Check back Sunday evening for the next Pod Street Postgame following the second of a back-to-back series against the Buffalo Sabres.
Photo Credit – Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire