The 2015-2016 season has been one of missed opportunity for the Philadelphia Flyers as they blow yet another lead and lose in the shootout, 3-2 Friday night. No one can deny the Flyers ineptitude in the shootout since its inception but playing games the way they do when protecting leads is the much larger issue. The Flyers want to be a team that wins games in regulation and one that effectively closing out games, not one that tries to make one-goal leads stand up. In this sport, there is no such thing as a prevent defense; when leading, one has to continually push play forward because if it becomes routine that players are gaining control of the puck, dumping it in and getting off for a change, then that team is asking for trouble.
No two ways about it, tonight was a really bad loss for the Flyers to take against a team that has been trending in a downward trajectory for almost two months now. They desperately needed two points.
The Flyers received goals from Nick Cousins (3rd) and Michael Raffl (8th) in the losing cause. Shayne Ghostisbehere continues his impressive point streak with a heads-up feed to Michael Raffl for the primary assist on the tally as well. Ghost is on the verge of making some storied history as his 14 game point streak is getting him nationwide acclaim and with good reason. I shudder to think where Philadelphia would be this far into the season without Ghost as he seemingly does something exciting with the puck every shift. He’s undoubtedly a special player.
Michal Neuvirth stopped 29 of 31 shots fired his way in the loss. Neuvy gave the Flyers a chance to win tonight as no one could really fault him for either goal that beat him. He also was sharp in the shootout before getting beat on the glove side twice by Max Pacioretty and Paul Bryon. The loss was Neuvirth 4th overtime/shootout loss of the season.
Here are your game notes:
Flyers captain Claude Giroux had a rough night on the scoresheet as he was pointless and took three minor penalties in the loss. The captain’s third minor also led to the game-tying goal as well. It almost seems unfair to throw more shade onto Claude Giroux as coach Dave Hakstol has leaned heavily on his captain in lieu of Sean Couturier’s absence thus far. With that said, Giroux needed to be much more discipline tonight, despite being completely wrenched and overworked. At this juncture in the season, however, no one will be using fatigue as an excuse and I’m positive the captain won’t either. Expect Giroux to be ready to play tomorrow night, when the Flyers will be hosted by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Nick Cousins and Scott Laughton both had decent games tonight and each registered a point in the loss. For Cousins, he continues to point himself in positions to succeed, although he may have been more lucky than good with his goal tonight. The shot was one I am sure Mike Condon would like to have back but it was a heads up play by the 22 year-old forward to get the puck to the net quickly. Scott Laughton received a secondary assist on the Flyers second goal and looked comfortable on the wing alongside Matt Read and Michael Raffl. The move appeared to cater to Laughton’s strengths more as he played a simple yet effective brand of hockey tonight and if it continues, Dave Hakstol won’t be able to pull him from the lineup as quickly as he has over the last few weeks.