Welcome to the Pod Street Postgame. The Flyers played a near-flawless game as they shutout the Sabres for the second straight game and third time on the season. The game had an uncomfortable feeling for the first eight minutes of action, as the Flyers were held without a shot. They quickly shook off the jitters with a barrage of shots in the first period. The shooting gallery continued quickly at the start of the second period and the hard work finally paid off as Sean Couturier scored his fifth goal of the season to open up the scoring. Raffl and JvR added goals and Carter Hart stopped 28 shots to record his second career shutout. This is the Flyers third win in a row and third game with nearly 40 shots on goal as well.
Hart Bounces Back
After an embarrassing performance in Lake Tahoe which saw Carter Hart yanked, and a few sub par performances lately, Hart rebounded and seemed like a brick wall at times. He was square to the shooters all game and barely gave up any sloppy rebounds. You could tell from the start of the game that Hart was going to be on his game as the Sabres got an early powerplay but Hart stood tall.
Social media was buzzing this past week, saying Hart is having a sophomore slump and calling for his benching. Even ridiculous posts, going as far as trading the young rising star. Chill out everyone, we have our future netminder for years to come. Ups and downs will happen with young goaltenders. He will be fine, I can reassure you. Yes, clearly the Boston Bruins are his and the Flyers kryptonite at the moment, but in my estimation they will get it together. This team and Hart are way too talented to let their lapses against the Bruins continue. I’m glad to see Hart gain his confidence back, even if it was against the lowly Sabres.
DE-FENSE !! DE-FENSE!!
The Flyers defensive pairings have been moved around for most of the season, but we are finally seeing some stability with a solid output from our defensemen. Standouts like Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere are playing at top form. Provorov playing in his 333rd consecutive game continues to be a force on the back end. He’s eating up minutes, nearly averaging 25 minutes of icetime a night. The Ghost is back in my opinion. You can see the confidence in his game and now he is starting to score some goals which will only help this Flyers team down the stretch and into the playoffs. Pucks are getting to the net and it’s a welcome sight, especially on the power play. Even though the last two games were against the Sabres, you can clearly see, on most occasions, our defense isn’t giving up open looks and is clearing and moving the puck out of the zone on a more consistent basis. I would really like to see this continue against the top teams in our division.
Giroux, Lindblom, and Patrick
So far through 18 games, Giroux, Lindblom, and Patrick have virtually been invisible in goal production. Giroux has one goal, Lindblom has two, and Patrick has two as well. What in the world is going on?! You can’t have your captain not producing goals. Although the assists are there, he needs to start scoring. Against the top teams in our division in Boston, Washington, and the New York Islanders, Giroux has notched zero goals and a handful of assists against the “elite.” Two games this season he had three assist nights vs the hapless Devils and Sabres and is virtually invisible versus the top teams. Flyers fans must start paying attention to this. Why you may ask? Because in all likelihood we will be facing the Caps, Bruins, Islanders and or Penguins come playoff time.
Nolan Patrick is literally a disappointment so far in his young career. He’s been moved around from line to line and isn’t contributing at all. He has a horrendous 12 shots on goal in 18 games. I saw some life againts the Rangers with a change in lines moving Giroux and Patrick up with Kevin Hayes, but they have barely generated any goals in the last few games. I think Hayes will be more than happy when TK comes back and they can start moving the puck a lot better and actually score some goals. The same can be said for Lindblom, who has been mediocre at best. Five points in 15 games isn’t going to cut it long term. Hopefully the three blind mice can get it together, because they were basically non-existent in the Sabres’ games this weekend. Giroux, Lindblom, and Patrick were held to a combined three shots on net against a very bad Buffalo squad.
In closing, it was great to see back-to-back shutout wins which made for a perfect weekend for us Flyers fans. The penalty kill has been solid lately and the goal production is there, especially with JvR leading the way with 10 goals. I’m waiting for him to cool off, but he keeps lighting it up. Hopefully the Flyers will get TK back this week as they embark on an unheard of three game set with the hated Pittsburgh Penguins. Hopefully we can take two of three contests from the Penguins and get some breathing room, as we are quickly approaching the mid-way part of the season. Remember this season is like no other. Every game counts more than ever, and it will be a race to the finish. More than likely with the Flyers, Bruins, Caps, Isles, and Pens fighting for the four spots to make into the playoffs.
Thanks for checking out the Pod Street Postgame. Be sure to come back after the next game for more Pod Street Postgame coverage, and as always, check out PodSTBullies.com for the latest and greatest in Flyers coverage.
Photo Credit – Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire