You won't see a game with more profound shifts in momentum than the one the Flyers lost, 9-8, to the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night. After getting off to a good start and opening the scoring, the Flyers conceded the game's next five goals, going down 3-1 in the first period and 5-1 by the time 5 minutes had ticked off in the second. After getting one back, they let up another, and were down 6-2 at the game's halfway point.
But the Flyers stormed back, scoring two before the second period was out, heading into the second intermission down 6-4. Lavvy may have broken some faces in the dressing room, because his boys came out of the break on fire, scoring three goals in the first three minutes of the third period, marking five unanswered to go ahead by a 7-6 count.
That's right—both teams scored five unanswered goals in this game.
The Jets would score the next two before the Flyers again tied it up, but one final defensive breakdown with just over a minute left led to Andrew Ladd of the Jets scoring the game-winner.
The Flyers were once again victimized by a combination of soft defense around their net, but also a series of deflection goals. And, there was also just some plain old bad goaltending. They'd need a combination like that to lose a game in which they scored EIGHT goals. It's the first time in franchise history they've scored that much and lost.
Below, a look at what went so incredibly wrong, as well as a handful of bright spots, and some head-hanging, painfully honest quotes from Ilya Bryzgalov. Plus video highlights that'll look like a normal game's highlights set on a repeat loop.
Since it was a loss, let's take a look at the bad first.
I don't know which member of the Flyers organization pissed off the wrong witch doctor, but this team is downright cursed when it comes to bounces and deflections. Part of it is on the personnel not clearing out the lanes in front of the net to let their two capable goalies get a clean save once in a while, and their defense has been atrocious in its marking, but man… there really have been some fluky caroms finding their way to opposing stick blades and into the Flyers net. It was a big part of the loss in Montreal, and it continued loudly tonight in South Philly.
The defense can't allow opposing forward to enjoy so much real estate in and around the slot and goal area though. It's like an #occupy event in front of the goalies lately. Chris Pronger's absence has been a huge factor in the last two losses, during which the Flyers have given up a total of 14 goals.
Tonight's 9-spot came on just 25 shots.
The goaltenders were also to blame. (With 9 goals, there's plenty to go around.) Ilya Bryzgalov didn't start the game, but he put the heat on himself during his postgame media availability. If you were miffed in thinking that Bryz threw his defense under the bus after the loss to the Blues, you'll want to cozy up to the footage from tonight's rant against himself. It's early, and we fully anticipate he'll turn it around, but Bryz's comments didn't inspire much confidence.
"I have zero confidence in myself right now," Bryz began, before saying he felt like he was "lost in the woods." [More here, plus video]
Hopefully this ends better than that episode of The Sopranos that Steve Buscemi directed. That Russian lost in the woods was never seen again...
Bryzgalov did play poorly, and his bad stretch came during the Flyers' dramatic comeback, but Sergei Bobrovsky shouldered his share of the fall as well. Deflections victimized Bob early, but he was small in net, failing to cut off angles, and let up a softie or two of his own (5 goals on 15 shots in 24:39).
Ready for the good? Good! After the last two games, I think we need a few positives to look at heading into Saturday's game.
First, the Hartnell-Giroux-Jagr line got on the board quickly again, with Jags setting up Hartnell in close for Harts' third tally of the season. Brilliant patience by Jagr to let his defenseman overcommit, then pass behind him to find Hartnell on the back door.
Danny Briere lit up the scoresheet, potting two and assisting on a pair of others. He and James van Riemsdyk worked well together, and both got their scoring touches back and picked up their third and fourth goals each. Riemer's brace came in the third, with his first goal putting the Flyers up for the first time since the opening period, and his last tying the game at 8. A few of the goals by this duo were pretty sweet too, especially the moves Briere put on when coming from his office (behind the net) to the crease and sliding one across to JVR.
Matt Read picked up his third of the season, a nice glove-down play that tied the game at six. Kimmo Timonen did his part in the offensive end, assisting on four of the Flyers' eight goals.
Zac Rinaldo had more hits (7) than minutes played (6:45), including probably the best check of the game, coming on a high-energy shift in the first period.
Only five Flyers skaters failed to register a point in the game (Couturier, Gustafsson, Rinaldo, Shelley, and Simmonds).
Despite the loss and some very ugly play in their own end, it was encouraging to see the Flyers come back swinging. Coming off a bad loss last night and a terrible first period and a half, it looked like the wilt would continue to set in. But the forwards kept attacking and finally broke through, chasing Jets starter Ondrej Pavelec from the crease too. They piled 19 shots on net in the second and 16 in the third.
Check out this Momentum chart at PowerScoutHockey…
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