Ten random observations from the Flyers' 5-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
1. Brayden Schenn began the game on the Flyers’ top line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. The line went without a shot for 20 minutes. In the second period, Michael Raffl replaced Schenn — and was an immediate boost. That period alone, the line combined for five shots on net.
2. And speaking of Schenns, Tuesday’s game was a rough one for both Schenn brothers. Luke, too, had a tough outing. Too many times he sent a pass into an area dominated by white jerseys or simply lost control of the puck in critical situations. He was on the ice for three Blue Jackets goals (see Instant Replay).
3. Ray Emery gave up two goals on four shots to start the game. He did the same thing Jan. 27 against the Arizona Coyotes, and was pulled. That didn’t happen this time, but this was not Emery’s best performance; he had trouble tracking the puck, gave up far too many big rebounds and simply wasn’t the goalie he seemed to be in his last few starts.
4. Which leads me to my Emery theory: I think he plays better when he feels he is “The Guy” — as in, someone like Anthony Stolarz is backing him up — than he does when Steve Mason or even Rob Zepp is on the bench. In a weird way, knowing he wouldn’t get pulled takes the pressure off while, at the same time, there’s “good” pressure on him to perform and carry the team. Feel free to tell me how wrong you think I am in the comments.
5. Wayne Simmonds has been a bright spot in recent games while others’ offensive output has declined. He now has seven points in his last five games — and his line with Sean Couturier and Matt Read has looked good. His tip-in goal against the Jackets Tuesday night was particularly impressive.
6. Read, too, had another solid outing, which is encouraging, especially taking into account how he spent the first half of the season. His four-game point streak came to an end, yes, but it’s good news for the Flyers to see his improved play continue.
7. Blame the ice? The circus was in town while the Flyers were on the road, and reconfiguring the arena for hockey lasted well into Tuesday. That could be one reason why the passing seemed off — for both teams — throughout the night. But the Flyers seemed to struggle particularly early on in the night.
8. It was a classy move by the Flyers to honor Scott Hartnell, who recently appeared in his 1,000th game. PA announcer Lou Nolan read a congratulatory message as Hartnell was shown on the big screen to loud cheers and applause, and Flyers Charities donated $10,000 to his #HartnellDown foundation. Hartnell is still loved in this city.
9. The Flyers’ nine-game point streak was curious, if only because the team didn’t look particularly impressive through that stretch of games. (Don’t get me wrong; they did at times, just not consistently.) But one thing they were doing well consistently was starting games strong. That was not the case Tuesday, however, and is exactly why they found themselves down 2-0 less than seven minutes into the first period.
10. Both Luke Schenn and Michael Del Zotto were on the ice for three of the Blue Jackets' four goals — but Del Zotto's game was far less troubling. Yes, he had the goal that tied the game 2-2 in the second period, but beyond that, he actually looked solid in all areas Tuesday night. Not perfect, but definitely passable.