Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Flyers Lost To The Blackhawks, And The Sky Is Falling (Plus Flyers Lineup Volume 2)

Last night, the Flyers traveled to Chicago for their third game of the season (and the Blackhawks' fourth). It was a very entertaining game, and it's largely what the NHL seems to be targeting in terms of goal generation.

But for Flyers fans - and specifically Flyers Twitter - everything went wrong. Goaltending, defending, lineup decisions, coaching, everything just totally came off the rails. Or so said the various people who say things on Twitter.

I wanted to take a closer look at the game (courtesy of Sons Of Penn's GIF Rewind and Corsica's Game Recap) to see how much the Flyers' season is really crumbling after just three games.

The Kane-Panarin-Anisimov Line Combined For Five Goals

Granted, one was a powerplay goal and another was an into an empty net, but there are a lot of hockey games where both teams don't combine for five goals. It's tough to overcome one trio lighting the lamp five times.

But this was the best line in hockey last year, and it's going to be the best line in hockey again this year. Let's look at the goals.

Kane's First
On-ice for the Flyers: Couturier, Konecny, Voracek, Streit, Provorov

This may look like a penalty kill for the Flyers, but it was just a case of everyone forgetting about the most talented player on the Blackhawks and leaving him all alone facing an empty half of the net. Then everyone overreacted and left him the other side of the net open, and Patrick Kane does not miss those wraparound goals. Largely, this goal was caused by poor positioning by the Streit-Provorov pair, and by a lack of defensive help from the forwards. (Yes, I understand that I basically just blamed everyone on the ice.)

Panarin's First
On-ice for the Flyers: Bellemare, Gordon, MacDonald, Schultz

This one actually was a penalty kill, and it showed how flawed that unit can be. Seabrook put his slap-pass on the money to Panarin, and (as we'll see later) that's a shot that he usually pots.

Anisimov's First
On-ice for the Flyers: Giroux, Simmonds, Read, Streit, Provorov

Bad turnover from Provorov. Bad backcheck by all of the forwards. Great passing from that goddamn Hawks line.

Panarin's Second
On-ice for the Flyers: Couturier, Voracek, Konecny, Provorov, Streit

That's on Provorov. I had to mansplain why that play was so bad from him, and it's a pretty simple explanation: it's a high-risk move to carry the puck in between four defenders, and it's even higher-risk to do that as a defenseman when you're potentially giving up a 2-on-1. And then, when that 2-on-1 is the Art Ross Trophy and Calder Trophy winners from last year, you're toast.

Anisimov's Second
On-ice for the Flyers: That 6-on-5 unit that plays without a goalie

Nothing you can do here. Chicago throws out one of the most well-coached and well-led units, and it's tough to beat them.

So, overall, we saw a lot of the Kane-Panarin-Anisimov line against Nineteen-Year-Old Rookie Ivan Provorov. Is he now no longer NHL-ready because he and Mark Streit got torched? He'll stop doing that fucking carry-in move through traffic. He'll certainly work on his positioning in the defensive end. This will hopefully get better:

And, most importantly, he won't have to play against that fucking trio again.

Skies Falling: 2/4
Image result for sky is fallingImage result for sky is falling

One Reason That Maybe We're Not All Going To Die: He's 19. When I was 19 I got blackout drunk for nine nights in a row to celebrate Labor Day. We can all improve.

Steve Mason And Michal Neuvirth Kind Of Might Stink Now

Neuvirth played the first half of the game, and he allowed 4 goals on 16 shots. His 0.750 save percentage is.. sub-optimal.

Mason came in as a reliever after the fourth goal, and allowed 2 goals of his own on 11 shots. His 0.818 save percentage, though it was a touch better than Neuvirth's, is still well below where it needed to be.

But, as hockey is a team sport, how many of these seven goals can realistically be blamed on the goaltender?

  1. Kane - Hey defense, maybe guard this fucking guy
  2. Rasmussen - Hey Ivan, bad play dude
  3. Panarin - Hey defense, get in the fucking passing lane
  4. Hossa- That one was on Neuvirth (see below)
  5. Anisimov - Nothing any goalie could have done
  6. Panarin - Uhhh maybe try to prevent Kane-Panarin 2-on-1's
  7. Anisimov - Empty netter
You can't blame either goalie too much for getting fucked by their defense five times. This one from Neuvirth (Hossa's 500th career goal) was the only one that I have an issue with:

We aren't banking on this goalie tandem to be able to stop unchallenged cross-ice one-timers. The defense has to shore up, and it will once we get our two best defensemen back from suspension/injury.

Skies Falling: 1/4
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One Reason That Maybe We're Not All Going To Die: Last year, the Flyers allowed seven goals to the Florida Panthers and only managed to score one. That was worse than this, and the team rebounded over the course of the season.

Dave Hakstol Benched Nick Cousins

It's not just that Coach Hak left Cousins out of the lineup. It's that he replaced him with players who are (significantly) worse.

The bottom six last night was Read-Bellemare-Weise and Vandevelde-Gordon-Lyubimov. Other than Read, who was promoted to first-line duty following Michael Raffl's injury, I can't recall a single play that any of them made that was good.

Bellemare excelled in the World Cup. Dale Weise signed a four-year contract this summer. Gordon and Lyubimov were also offseason acquisitions. Chris Vandevelde went to North Dakota, I guess.

But NONE OF THEM have looked as aggressive or as talented as Cousins, and to sit him in favor of all five of them is absolutely fucking mind blowing.

At 5-on-5 play, here were their stat lines (5v5 time on ice, Fenwick for/against, Goals for/against):

  • Weise: 12.8 minutes, 5 FF, 2 FA, 0 GF, 0 GA
  • Bellemare: 11.1 minutes, 4 FF, 6 FA, 0 GF, 0 GA
  • Lyubimov: 10.5 minutes, 5 FF, 5 FA, 0 GF, 1 GA
  • Vandevelde: 8.5 minutes, 3 FF, 8 FA, 0 GF, 1 GA
  • Gordon: 6.0 minutes, 2 FF, 3 FA, 0 GF, 1 GA
Weise actually didn't have a bad night, but he played the same amount of time at even strength as Jake Fucking Voracek. Come on. 

If they don't re-insert Cousins (along with the returning-from-suspension Brayden Schenn) into the lineup and drop two of these guys into the press box, I am going to be mad online. That'll bump this up by at least one Chicken Little, and probably two Chicken Littles. 

3/4 Skies Are Falling

Image result for sky is fallingImage result for sky is fallingImage result for sky is falling

One Reason That Maybe We're Not All Going To Die: Maybe Hakstol saw what he needed to see last night. Maybe he knows that the squad looked pretty fucking pathetic last night, and they need a boost of energy. Maybe he reads this and sees my next section...

Flyers Lineup Volume 2


Am I maybe overreacting to how good Matt Read looked last night? I mean, maybe. If this balance doesn't work, or if the Giroux line struggles, then we flip Read and Schenn and get a little more top-heavy.

We still have our penalty kill and power play units, only now we roll three lines that can legitimately generate offense and a fourth that is extremely sound defensively. What am I missing here? Why is that not the lineup?

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