With 11:30 remaining in the third period of Wednesday's 3-0 Flyers loss to the Blackhawks, Claude Giroux got a step on Chicago's Brent Seabrook and swooped in on Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford. Crawford made the save and Seabrook lost his edge, crashing into his goalie and dislodging the net. This halted play even as Jake Voracek gathered the rebound with Crawford down.
Mark Alt was penalized when he attempted a pass and the bouncing puck rolled up his shaft and launched over the glass. If this is a delay of game penalty, it seems a defensive player dislodging his own net (and thus avoiding a juicy scoring chance for his opponent) should be one as well.
Before the game NBC analyst Ed Olcyk was effusive in his praise of Ivan Provorov before the game and as if on cue, Provorov put together a mini-highlight reel why in the first period. Olcyk pointed out most of it – blocking a shot by Ryan Seabrook, diving and poking away what would have been an empty net goal for Jonathan Toews, making the outlet pass to Travis Konecny that spring Valterri Filppula for a breakaway chance.
Provorov's work on Chicago's Patrick Kane was a precursor. Provorov's combination of speed, stickwork and physicality repeatedly forced the puck off the stick of the swooping star in and around the Flyers net.
Could the assistant coach of one team watch passively as one of his players challenges his son to a fight. But that's what happened early into the second half of the first period after Chicago defenseman Connor Murphy, son of Flyers assistant Gord Murphy, bashed Taylor Leier as he pursued a bouncing puck at mid-ice. The hit was hard and slightly high and Leier has already lost control of the puck, and soon after Murphy felt Wayne Simmonds' stick across his back and a tad later Scott Laughton had the gloves off as both men wrestled each other to the ice.
Dad? He watched it all passively. Only in hockey.
After significant tinkering and the injury to Shayne Gostisbehere, it seems Dave Hakstol has found something in pairing Provorov with rookie Robert Hagg. We have all marveled at the maturity of the 21-year-old's Hagg's game, just as we did with Provorov as a rookie, and the two played together Wednesday night with a poise beyond their years. Hagg's subtle (and slightly illegal) interference with Nick Schmaltz at mid-ice sprung Filppula for his first-period breakaway pass from Konecny. Later, Hagg not only cleared a puck sitting behind Brian Elliott by pushing it back out between his legs, he blocked an ensuing rebound with the side of the net completely exposed.
Hagg was also victimized on Jonathan Toew's breakaway goal that pushed the Hawks ahead 2-0, but that kind of bad luck – the puck rolling off his stick as he sought to flip it on the net — could have happened to a 10-year vet.
Twice on the Flyers' first power play, Wayne Simmonds drifted away from the shooting lane, allowing Crawford a clear view of the puck. Each time he tried a finesse tip as he floated across. Simmonds is a lot of things, but finesse is not one of them. The Flyers assistant captain has taken his beatings already this year in and around the crease and has the wounds to prove it. Later, on a second power play, Simmonds did get in front for a point shot – and paid for it with a puck off the back unprotected part of his leg. Simmonds' best chance came on the Flyers third period power play, but he could not get enough lift to get over Crawford's pad.
The Black Hawks were 0-for-18 on the power play and were 28th in the league in the power play before last night (12.7 percent). The Flyers, with a 79.1 percent penalty kill, were 23rd in the league.
When he was sent down at the start of the season, Mike Vecchione, a Hoby Baker finalist just six months ago, vowed he would not mope, brood, or feel sorry for myself. "Nothing has ever come easy for me,'' he said stoically on his way out.