Offense Carried Flyers While Defense Struggled

Feb 24, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott (37) makes a save against New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) during the first period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 24, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott (37) makes a save against New York Rangers left wing Chris Kreider (20) during the first period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

The Flyers outlasted the Rangers in a game where the Flyers’ poor defensive play needlessly kept the Rangers in striking distance until the final whistle.

First Period

CF:17  CA:8  CF%: 68.00%   ZENO 0

The Flyers jumped on all over the Panarin-less Rangers right from the start and had a dominant corsi period.  The stats were reflective of the flow of the game, as it seemed as if the Flyers were on the cusp of scoring throughout the period. Their best line was the Giroux-Hayes-Patrick line, with G and Hayes having an 11-4 corsi advantage, with Giroux firing four shots.

Even with the good, the bad was still present. Of the Rangers eight 5 v. 5 shots, about half of them were of the “hold your breath” variety, chances that were just as likely to go in as not. Despite the relatively light work load, the defense, Myers in particular, had coverage issue.

On a brighter note, the ZENO stat was a zero, meaning every controlled zone entry yielded a shot. There was a subtle change in strategy as the Flyers seemed more willing to dump and chase. Dumps in do not count as controlled zone entries for ZENO, but dumps were effective when coupled with the Flyers forecheck.

Second Period

CF:9  CA:17  CF%: 34.62%   ZENO 1

The second period was dominated by special teams, with six penalties whistled in the period and only just under 11 minutes of 5 v 5 play.  Both the Flyers and Rangers each would score a powerplay goal.

The Flyers revisited the problems that have plagued them all season, turnovers in their own end.  The Rangers were able to take advantage of the frequent turnovers to pin them down. The clearest example of the Flyers’ struggles happened with 11:57 remaining.

The fourth line was out with the defensive pairing of Gustafsson and Gostisbehere. They had incredible difficulty clearing the puck out of their own end. Clearing attempt after attempt, four by my count, were intercepted by the Rangers. The Flyers gave up 5 chances in thirty seconds as they continually failed to clear their own zone.

The Flyers only had one ZENO, on a 3-2 chance that proved fruitless, though Farabee turned a break away chance into a two on one that eventually turned into a shot from the point. This was an example of the Flyers, again, cutting things a little too fine rather than the shooting mentality that highlighted the first period.

Third Period

CF:16  CA:10  CF%: 61.54%   ZENO 4

The Rangers would control play early in the period, ending ultimately on Kreider’s third goal of the night. Despite the early Rangers’ push, corsi favored the Flyers in the period.  Both teams exchanged good chances and each team was looking to their goaltender to deliver the win.

From a mechanical standpoint, as the Rangers pressed, the Flyers were able to counter attack and generate chances and skew corsi to their advantage. While the team’s defense was pretty bad throughout the night, it was heartening to see them stiffen as the Rangers upped their attack.

As the clock continued to wind down, the Flyers started to pile up ZENO tallies.  While there was some inept overpassing that killed opportunities, most of the controlled entries with no chances seemed to be part of a conservative strategy. The Flyers were content to stay along the boards, cycle the puck and have a clean line change to keep the players on ice fresh.

Corsi Winner

NYR C Brett Howden CF:9 CA:3 CF%: 75.00%

Howden was powered by a strong second period where he piled up a 5-0 corsi for count, feasting on the Flyers struggles at the 11:57 mark. Outside of that stretch, where Howden’s line had the Flyers on the ropes, he was average.

Corsi Loser

PHI LW Carsen Twarynski CF:1 CA:7 CF%: 12.50%

It was not a stellar night for Twarynski. In addition to a sorry corsi score, he also took a bad offensive zone boarding penalty. As feeble as Twarynski’s corsi looked, it was a little over blown. Twarynski was on ice for a portion of the Ghost-Gustafsson melt down midway through the period, collecting a 4 CF deficit for his trouble.


CF:42  CA:35  CF%: 54.55%   ZENO 5

This game was bizarre, and though the corsi numbers would seem to be in line with the result, it did not tell the story. The Flyers were good offensively, and it seemed they were poised to score every time they entered the offensive zone. They would have scored seven goals without the heroics of Rangers’ goalie Shesterkin.

Unfortunately, the Flyers’ defense was porous, and every puck near the Flyers’ crease was a disaster waiting to happen. To be sure, Chris Kreider had a great game, but his three goals were from point blank range with poor defensive coverage. Just about any player would have buried those chances.  The Flyers were lucky that Kreider was the only Ranger to take the gifts.

Had the Rangers’ goaltending been slightly worse, or the Flyers’ defense a little better, this game would have been an easy, two or three goal, victory for Philadelphia, even with the modest eight chance advantage.

The Flyers outplayed the Rangers and deserved the victory, and the corsi numbers help confirm this.  The fact that they expanded their corsi advantage and generated several ZENO instances while the Rangers were pressing is a positive.

However, the 5 v 5 goals allowed, and the bad corsi stretches are reason for Flyers to be concerned.  This is the kind of play that lose games they should win. They have until Saturday to straighten things out, when they face the cellar dwelling Sabres.