Photo is by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images
To be blunt, the Flyers 4-0 shutout loss to the Edmonton Oilers was all kinds of ugly Thursday night at Wells Fargo Center. Carelessness with the puck and an inability to cleanly handle pucks dearly costed the Flyers tonight. Overall, it just appeared to one of those nights where Philadelphia wasn’t going to get any fortuitous bounces as they hit the post on two different power play opportunities. At this stage in the season, however, the Flyers simply could not afford to lose a game like this to the Oilers. Bottom feeder teams tend to be the most dangerous a club will play at this point of the season because they’re not playing for anything in way of making the playoffs; teams like the Oilers will play pressure-free down the stretch, while teams like the Flyers will routinely be scoreboard watching and the like. In any event, Philadelphia needed to be better than they were in this one.
Philadelphia managed to have a 0-7 night on the power play in the shutout loss. The team cannot say that they didn’t get some quality looks at the net last night but ultimately, the stagnant power play is more indicative of the fact that the Flyers did not have Jake Voracek running the right boards. The team has opted to go with two defensemen in Voracek’s absence with Mark Streit manning the position Jake would typically occupy.
Even with one player missing, it changes the dynamic of the PP drastically; Giroux was looking to setup Streit with cross-ice feeds and usually was able to thread the needle on the pass but Streit had trouble corralling the puck and seemed indecisive when he got it. Voracek tends to do one of two things with that puck when he gets it from Giroux on that play. Voracek either decides to one-time it from the middle of the left circle or settles the puck and tries to skate it just inside the harsh marks for a shot or deflection from Schenn or Simmonds. Without that element, Edmonton decided to favor Giroux’s side of the ice and take away any shooting lanes that Gostisbehere would normally have. It was job well done by the Oilers.
Losing goaltender Michal Neuvirth did not play poorly in the loss as he turned away 27 of 31 shots. Perhaps though, this could allow Coach Dave Hakstol to call on Steve Mason once again. When preparing material for the game, I came across an interesting stat about the goalie tandem and can hopefully put to rest some of the talk that Neuvirth has taken Mason’s spot.
This from hockeybuzz’s and Flyers beat writer Bill Meltzer; in the 2016 calendar year to date and 14 games played, Steve Mason has a better GAA (goal against average )and Sv% (save percentage), while Neuvirth has more wins. This tells us that Neuvirth has received better support over this period time but does not tell us that Neuvy himself has been better than his counterpart. The Flyers have been riding the hot hand of late in Neuvirth but I fully expect to see Mason have his number called on Saturday night against Columbus.
Here is your notable for last night’s game:
All young players will go through peaks and valleys throughout the course of their development, even rookie sensation Shayne Gostisbehere. Ghost had a rough night last night and has not played particularly well over the last three. This is to be expected as no one could realistically expect Ghost to continue his record setting point streak in today’s offensively -starved NHL or anything like that. His decision-making both with and without the puck left a lot to be desired last night and twice ended up in the back of the Flyers net.
It’s apparent over the last few games that Ghost is still learning the nuances of the defensive game at this level and is learning when it is appropriate to gamble and when it is not. It’s only through playing time and mistakes where he’ll learn to correct those things and the Flyers much rather see him commit those mistakes this season, rather than when the team becomes a legitimate Stanley Cup threat again.