Growing Pains: Flyers, rookies toppled by Blackhawks, 7-4

Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

The Flyers managed to take us on a roller coaster of emotion Tuesday night. Regardless of the final score, Philadelphia had a respectable start to the game, but it was one of those games that every mistake led directly to a scoring chance or goal for the Blackhawks. While it’s exciting to see the Flyers’ young players, tonight was a subtle reminder that development in the NHL has a staunch learning curve.

The Flyers received goals from Matt Read (2,3), Sean Couturier (3), and Wayne Simmonds (2) in the team’s second straight loss. Claude Giroux (3 assists) and Jake Voracek (2 assists) factored into the scoresheet as well. Mistakes were made and then compounded in this game; neutral zone turnovers were really at the root of the issue tonight. The Flyers simply weren’t making good decisions with the puck and a team like the Blackhawks can transition from defense to offense quicker and more efficient than any team in the league. Once Philadelphia made cleaner exits from their own zone, the foundation for their comeback bid was set, although it ultimately fell short in the end.

Losing goaltender Michal Neuvirth turned an equally unimpressive effort in the loss, as he turned away 12 of 16 shots before being pulled for Steve Mason in the 2nd period. Even with first the games played, tonight represented an opportunity for Neuvirth to really take a stranglehold on the Flyers goaltending situation. However, the Flyers’ net minder looked kind of slow in goal. Neuvy wasn’t tracking the puck all that well and appeared slow to react when the puck was getting to him. The Flyers need both going well to win hockey games this season so it goes without saying that performances like this won’t do for the Czech goaltender.

Here’s the game’s final thought:

Final Thought: Flyers’ young players are human after all

Shayne Gostisbehere, Ivan Provorov, and Travis Konecny all struggle at various times last night and that’s okay. Gostisbehere really had an uncharacteristic night both with and without the puck. Teams now know that Ghost is a weapon for the Flyers so he’ll need to learn to adjust better since he is one of the players that is being game planned for now. His decision making was not very good last night and frankly, really hasn’t been too good through the first three games.

For Ivan Provorov, every mistake he made with the puck ended up in the Flyers net. The 19-year-old defensemen ended the night -5 in 21:15 of TOI in a game he’ll want to forget. The biggest blunder of the night came when he tried to make a play with the puck as the last man back and simply tripped over his own feet, leading to a Blackhawks breakaway and eventual score.

Lastly, Travis Konecny struggled somewhat too, despite registering an assist. Konecny really seemed to struggle with how little time he was left to make plays. As a whole, Chicago really swarmed to the Flyers every chance Philadelphia tried to get to loose pucks and Konecny seemed to have difficulty with that.

So what’s this all mean?

As I’ve said time and time again on here, player development in the NHL is never just a steady upward climb. There’s peaks and valleys and some of the most talented young players in the league can look downright bad in a given night. That part of player development is inevitable, it’s how they respond after not looking as advertised.

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