Tonight the Flyers played their final game before the All-Star break, against their bitter rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins at home. Brian Elliot was in net for the Flyers, Tristian Jarry for the Penguins. Michael Raffl did not play because of an upper body injury, as Joel Farabee took his spot on the 1st line with Sean Couturier and Jake Voracek. The Flyers had Claude Giroux at center, to give them more balance in the lineup as well.
Early on, the Flyers had a really good start with lots of chances. They were moving the puck well out of their own zone with speed that carried into all 3 zones. The first period ended with neither team scoring. It wasn’t until early in the 2nd that Jake Voracek got the Flyers on the board 1-0 on a partial breakaway, beating Jarry five hole on a great pass from Couturier.
Voracek made a great play defensively that up the play in the neutral zone, then drove the net with speed getting rewarded. Late in the period, James van Reimsdyk made it 2-0 Flyers on a 2 on 1 with Travis Konecny, besting Jarry five hole in front.
In the 3rd period, the Flyers played a little more laid back than I thought they should have. Pittsburgh is one of the best teams in the league when down after two periods, and I was hoping the Flyers would play with some more jump offensively. That being said, the Flyers were excellent tonight defensively, and especially on the PK. Justin Braun scored an empty netter, sealing the Flyers win and shutout for Brain Elliot, who stopped all 19 Penguins shots. Kevin Hayes was a monster on the PK tonight, basically killing half the PP by himself in the 1st period, and making great reads along the way.
Going into this one tonight, one of the key things I said for the Flyers to be successful was to win the first 5-10 minutes of the period, play good defensively and move the puck out quick, and have good special teams. They did just that, and were rewarded with 2 points.
Unfortunately, the Flyers didn’t get much help in the division as both the Islanders and Hurricanes won, but they took care of their own business, and that’s all that matters. The Flyers next game is on January 31st, against these exact same Penguins in Pittsburgh.