The Philadelphia Flyers loss to the San Jose Sharks was a combination of several factors.
Part of it could have been the sloppy play or the ineptitude of the offense, but, once again, the defense showed itself as a glaring weak spot of this team. I am not about to go off on another diatribe about the defense because you have heard it one thousand times before this post.
Pictures speak much louder than words, so this post will show a couple defensive breakdowns from Thursday night.
Stop it right there. Joe Pavelski scores first goal.
Prior to Pavelski scoring his first of three goals, the Flyers had scored two unanswered goals.
The first error does not even appear in this GIF. Michael Raffl took a hooking penalty while the Flyers were on a power play. That is undisciplined and dumb hockey. The Flyers had a chance to break the game open with another goal and instead squandered the opportunity.
Now let’s take a look at the game-tying goal from Pavelski. Patrick Marleau receives a pass and is allowed to skate to the faceoff dot without much difficulty. Sean Cotuturer slides up to take away a pass to the blue line, while Nicklas Grossmann holds his ground near the dot. What I’m trying to figure out is why Braydon Coburn allowed Pavelski, who had 29 goals prior to Thrusday, to be all alone in front of Mason. While I understand trying to take away the cross-ice pass, he should not have left so much room between himself and Pavelski.
Stop it right there. Pavelski takes advantage of a turnover.
Pavelski scored his second goal of the game less than six minutes after his first goal. Once again, it was a failed breakout attempt that lead to a costly turnover.
First, let’s commend the Sharks on their forechecking. The two San Jose forwards see Grossmann is going to play the puck and take away his options. Joe Thornton eliminates a pass up the boards while his teammate takes away an opportunity to cycle the puck. The result is Grossmann trying to clear the zone on a backhand attempt, which is negated by Marc-Édouard Vlasic. Vlasic fires the puck on net where Pavelski, who makes a great read on the developing play, makes a fantastic deflection for his second goal of the night. Steve Mason had no shot of making the save.
But how did Pavelski get so wide open for the goal? Look at Coburn who takes a long route around the net to defend Pavelski. If Coburn had stopped and skated directly to Pavelski, this goal may not have happened.
Sloppy play has haunted the Flyers for years. This is a good team, but if they want to even think of contending for a Cup, their defensive zone play will have to improve.