Dogged in the Desert: Flyers get clipped by Coyotes, 2-1, as season gets narrow

It was a night of bad bounces and misfortune for the Flyers Saturday night as they lose a tough one in the desert to the Coyotes, 2-1. After a tough first period, Philadelphia clearly held the edge in play for the duration of the game but one blown coverage and an odd sequence involving Steve Mason and Max Domi cost the Flyers a valuable two points. Arizona’s goaltender Mike Smith had a strong game and was there any time the Flyers had a quality look at the net. The good news coming away from the day is that the Detroit Red Wings also lost on Saturday as well, meaning the Flyers will remain in the final wildcard spot for the time being.The Flyers received one goal in the dying seconds of the game from Sean Couturier (10th) in the loss. For a couple of teams that don’t see each other very often, this game had an extremely physical nature to it as there were lots of jawing and pushing and shoveling after the whistle amongst the players. The rough stuff included 2 questionable hits on each team’s captain in the third period with Shane Doan and Claude Giroux taking the brunt of the punishment. The aggressors on both plays in Radko Gudas and Martin Hanzal are not expected to receive any hearings or supplemental discipline for their respective hits and ultimately, I think that was the right call by the league.

All players ask for from the league and its officials is consistency on a nightly basis and considering no one was hurt and the game’s already physical nature, it made sense to handle the situation in-game rather than having the league get involved. The game’s officials did the best they could in doling out discipline and when tempers flared up, players were sent to the dressing room before things had a chance to escalate.

Losing goaltender Steve Mason stopped 15 of 17 shots fired his way.

It was generally an odd night for Mason as the first goal he allowed wasn’t his fault, while the second goal was one that seemed to cause some confusion. Mason had been bumped into by Arizona forward Max Domi on the play, knocking his mask off kilter. As the goaltender got to his feet and tried to fix his mask, defensemen Mark Stone shot the puck from the left point and it beat the preoccupied Mason for the go-ahead goal and was the eventual game winner.

Mason immediately lobbied to get the goal reviewed and upon review, the call on the ice stood as a good goal. It was an interesting sequence as I’ve seen games where plays like this have been called both ways. The officials didn’t have to call goaltender interference on the play, but could have called for incidental contact and that would have had the same effect. In retrospect, Mason probably would have thrown his mask off, giving the official no choice but to blow the play dead but in any event, it was a strange way to end a second period.

Here is your game notable:

The Flyers powerplay went 1/5 on Saturday and has started to cool off as of late. The second powerplay unit, albeit a makeshift unit has had more success of the two, while the Flyers first powerplay unit has struggled to find the net. More and more, we’ve seen teams effectively cut the ice in half and pin Giroux to the half wall with active sticks and aggressiveness. This has much to do with Jake Voracek not being 100% as teams aren’t really respecting that side of the ice so as Jake gets healthier, the unit’s productiveness should pick back up again. In the meantime, the Flyers should be finding ways to get Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn more involved as they both have finishing ability as well but generally don’t have the puck as much as Gostisbehere, Voracek, or Giroux.

 

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