The Flyers were their own worst enemy, again, losing possession and self-destructing in the final minute of the first and second period ceding a victory to the Devils. The two minutes of bad play was enough to undermine a good effort from Carter Hart and 58 minutes of sound defensive hockey.
CF: 7 CA: 21 CF%: 25.00%
The Devils came out flying. Hart was able to weather the storm early as the Flyers were able to contain passes in a way that gave Hart time to position himself squarely to the shooter. The twenty-one 5 V. 5 Devils’ chances would equate to only 10 shots, however, the chances would prove more dangerous as the period moved forward.
The Flyers looked out of sync offensively, unable to muster a coordinated forecheck and failing to complete passes. This was the underlying cause of the possession disparity, bad offensive hockey leading to excessive defending
The Flyers would yield two first-period goals, both of which required Hart to move across the crease blindly, in an attempt to square himself to the shooter. The Devils’ second goal of the period was from a defensive zone turnover that was unforced carelessness. These are the kind of mistakes that are killing the team.
CF:7 CA:11 CF% 38.89%
The second period was disrupted by several penalties that made it difficult for either team to find its offensive mojo. Again the Flyers did not defend badly for large stretches of the period, but their failure to generate consistent offense skewed the possession numbers to the Devils’ favor.
The Flyers would turn pucks over in their defensive end, and the pucks would find their way behind Hart. Both goals in the period were birthed from maddeningly sloppy play by the Flyers defense, namely a horrible back pass by Myers, and failure to cover a player at the doorstep. These are the types of plays that have been emblematic of the back line’s failures this season.
CF:22 CA:10 CF%:68.75
The Flyers found energy over the period’s final ten minutes, and the team was able to press a retreating Devils’ team. For the first time in the game, the Flyers did not seem to be counter-punching but were dictating play. After being minus 16 in chances the Flyers would cut the differential down to a -5.
It was nice to see the urgency out of the team, which would translate to two goals, but one needs to question where was the effort in the first two periods.
NJD C Jack Hughes CF:11 CA:4 CF% 73.33%
Hughes looked good all night, especially when he came roaring out of the neutral zone. The ease in which he gained the offensive zone allowed him to create separation to shoot. The fact that the Flyers were unable to exploit Hughes’ defense, generating only four chances, was what drove Hughes’ Corsi numbers.
PHI C Claude Giroux CF:4 CA:14 CF% 22.22
It was a rough night for Giroux who is now logging the tough minutes at center. Giroux saw a lot of Zacha and Hughes, and both centers had their way with him. While Giroux is a capable center, I am not sure letting him absorb the tough minutes at the pivot is a wise move for the player and the team.
CF:36 CA:43 CF%:46.15
The possession metrics indicate the Devils should have won a fairly even contest, which they did. But the real story was Flyers’ mistakes that the Devils were able to turn into goals. The Flyers may not be happy with the offensive performance, and the effect it had on possession, but players will surely see the needless turnovers as the reason for their failure. Since these kinds of mistakes are still happening at this point in the season, it is likely that they will be present for the remainder of the season.
The Flyers need to come out with a sense of urgency, the same kind that was on display as they clawed back into the game late in the third period. The Flyers need to get points to climb in the standings, and beating teams like the Devils in now an imperative.