CF:12 CA: 9 CF% 57.14% ZENO:0
The Flyers were able to establish a corsi possession advantage in the first period, a period in which they were clearly the better team.
The corsi did not adequately describe just how good the Flyers were in the period. There was only a single poor stretch that occurred with 14:17 remaining as they were on the heels. The Sabers were able to pin the puck in the Flyers end, due mainly to lost battles rather than poor clearance attempts, which is the normal culprit.
The Sabres would collect a 3 -0 corsi-for advantage over the minute-long stretch, but were unable to dent the twine. It was their most dangerous look at 5 v. 5.
There seemed to be a shift in strategy from the Flyers, who were much more willing to play dump and chase than at any point in the season to date. Dumping the puck limited turnovers in the neutral zone and also allowed for time in the offensive zone, Couturier’s tally was a result of a dump in followed by aggressive forechecking.
CF:19 CA:15 CF%:55.88% ZENO:2
The second period represented a slight change from the first as the tidy play in the Flyers defensive zone began to give way to the failed clearance attempts and bad turnovers that have marred the season so far. Erik Gustafsson alone accounted for 4 Buffalo chances from exit passes that were intercepted. In every case, Brian Elliott was up to the task, but it is an area of concern.
It was not all bad news for the defense, as the group also appeared to be more confident and assertive while joining the offense on the rush. Since their trip to Tahoe, the Flyers defense has been more active offensively. This has translated into more deep pinches, and defensemen joining the rush looking for opportunities to finish.
Today Shayne Gostisbehere would join the rush often and drive play into the opponents’ end. Even though Ghost finished with a CF% of 42.86%, it may have been his best game of the season. He was truly driving offense, and even collected a goal. A sub 50% Gostisbehere of this nature is something that most would welcome.
CF:16 CA:16 CF%:40 ZENO: 0
Leading by three, the Flyers were trying to speed the clock along. It saw the team use a moderate forecheck combined with a dump and chase strategy for virtually the entire period. This allowed the clock to wind down, keeping the puck far away from the Flyers goal mouth. It was very workmanlike, everyone playing smart to get the clock to zero.
Even without really pressing, the Flyers controlled play for the most part, with a ringing chance off the crossbar being the Sabres’ sole offensive threat. The corsi numbers were even but were helped by five needless icings the Flyers committed over the final eight minutes. They ultimately did not cost the Flyers today, but it is important to note that they did lead to scoring chances and zone time, even on a day where the Flyers dominated faceoffs.
Better teams, like the Bruins, were able to convert icings into goals, and while the Sabres were unable to capitalize on the opportunities, the Flyers must correct this weakness.
PHI C Sean Couturier CF:14 CA:5 CF% 73.68%
Couturier was able to use his elite retrieval skills to drive play as the team shifted to a dump and chase approach. Couturier, along with JVR and Farabee, were too much for the Sabres and Eric Staal, who they saw most frequently. Couturier scored a goal, and his line was a little unlucky not to get even more.
BUF RW Sam Reinhart CF:5CA:14 CF% 26.32%
After looking really good against the Flyers earlier this year, Reinhart’s regression to the mean was a welcome sight. Reinhart split time with Lazar and Staal, being out-chanced 7-0 while with Staal. It was a quiet game for Reinhart that was more about Couturier’s play than his own.
CF:47 CA:40 CF% 54.02% ZENO:2
The Flyers grabbed the lead in the first period and had complete control by the end of the second period. That left the third period as little more than an exercise in counting down. The Flyers had an edge in the possession statistics, but it was not a dominant edge according to the numbers.
In reality, the Flyers’ dump and chase strategy tilted the ice heavily in their favor. The strategy had a second effect whereas it all but eliminated bad turnovers in the neutral zone. Could this have been the reason why the Sabres had so few chances?
A second storyline was the Sabres toothless offense. Even if the corsi numbers were reversed, it likely would not have made any difference because of the lack of high danger chances. The Sabres clearly miss Eichel very badly.
In the end, the Flyers walked to an easy shutout win where they controlled every almost aspect from start to finish.