The Ottawa Senators (1-1-0) hosted the Philadelphia Flyers (1-1-0) for a Saturday afternoon matinee, and the Flyers found themselves unable to replicate the success they had in their opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Generally speaking, the game between the Flyers and Senators was mostly even, but Ottawa finished their chances and played better defense. Philadelphia held a slight advantage in even strength shots in the first period as they out-attempted Ottawa 13-12, but they ultimately finished the opening frame down 2-1.
Travis Konecny scored for the second consecutive game, and the Flyers’ leading scorer from the 2022-23 season is already up to three goals and four points on the year. Konecny would earn a primary assist on a second period goal from Cam York, and even though the Senators largely dominated the run of play in the middle frame, they were only up 3-2 following York’s goal. That is, until former Flyers star Claude Giroux pickpocketed a lazy Travis Sanheim to set up a Brady Tkachuk goal with six seconds remaining in the period.
Giroux’s power play rebound found its way to Tkachuk who scored again early in the third, and even as the Flyers turned the pressure up at even strength, their 84.62 percent share of shot attempts wouldn’t be enough to find any goals in the final stanza. It is worth noting, though, that Philly’s fourth line unit of Nicolas Deslauriers, Ryan Poehling, and Garnet Hathaway was again the team’s best line at 5-on-5, and led scoring chances 6-0 when on the ice. They’ll need to convert on some of those eventually, but that’s very encouraging overall.
Starting goaltender Carter Hart didn’t have the best game of his career; he allowed 1.58 more goals than expected, per Moneypuck. Though, it is hard to place the game squarely on him when the Flyers’ defensive carousel did him no favors. Yegor Zamula played great against Columbus in Game 1, and then he was scratched for Emil Andrae for Game 2. Andrae had a not so great Game 2 NHL debut.
When paired with Nick Seeler, Andrae and the Flyers had six shot attempts and allowed nine, but when paired with Walker they out-attempted their opponents 4-0. Maybe this will give head coach John Tortorella something to think about, because a constant rotation is not going to establish any kind of consistency or meritocracy on Philly’s blueline.
However, the Flyers need more offense and consistency from some of their better players too. Both Moneypuck and Dom Luszczyszyn’s game score model had Owen Tippett as the worst Flyers player on the ice, though the game score model had him as the worst skater overall and just ahead of Hart in the basement.
Noah Cates and Morgan Frost have also been lacking so far, and they need to pick it up just as much as Tippett does. Tippett found life when paired with Cam Atkinson and Sean Couturier – that line out-attempted their opponents 7-0 in 2:04 at 5-on-5. Two different combinations with Cates and Scott Laughton were two of the worst of the afternoon, so the Flyers should try to key in on that and try to split them up going forward.
So, it’s not a total meltdown just yet after only two games, but the Flyers need better performances from a lot of their key guys, and especially veterans like Sanheim, Seeler, and Atkinson. It’ll be interesting to see how the complexion of the defense changes when Rasmus Ristolainen returns, but until then, they’re stuck with what they had out there today.