Flyers-Panthers observations: Jake Voracek seeking more ‘out-of-body’ experiences, Christian Folin giving more than expected
Christian Folin is impressing. Plus, attendance figures seem off. There's no way 19,147 watched the Flyers from the Wells Fargo Center last night.
The Flyers lost to Florida, 2-1, on Tuesday.
Voracek’s ‘out-of-body’ experience
Much has been made about the resurgence of the Flyers first line and for good reason. Sean Couturier has played like his old self, Claude Giroux is giving every indication that health is the key to his elitism and Travis Konecny is, well, the Odell Beckham of hockey. At any moment …
Slightly overshadowed by that is the play of that next line, particularly since the trip out west.
The Panthers were hanging on for dear life against that line in the third period last night. Jake Voracek's goal, from a magnificent pass by Oskar Lindblom, was one of a handful of quality chances created by that line, even if that goal was scored with Sean Couturier, not Nolan Patrick, as the center.
"I think it was my best third period in 11 years," said Voracek, who missed tying it by inches shortly thereafter. "Everything was out-of-body for me. That's what happens when you don't think about plays, you just make them happen. That's what happened to me in the third."
Beginning with Patrick's late game-winning goal in Anaheim, that line has continually produced points, often the ones that have swung momentum. Lindblom and Patrick were the only Flyers to have points in all four games on the coast. In the three games since, Voracek has joined the act, setting up the overtime winner last Thursday and giving the Flyers a chance Tuesday night.
"Obviously we lost the game and that's not good," he said. "But over the last few games we've been going pretty good. It was a good game for our line to build on."
When Christian Folin was signed as a free agent to a modest one-year, $800,000 contract last summer, a common theory was that he would serve at least to rein in Radko Gudas from team-damaging aggression. Folin would give them depth, at the least, replacing the role played by Brandon Manning.
He has been so much more. His plus-9 trails only Robert Hagg on the team. Tuesday, the 6-3, 215-pound Folin jumped in when Panthers defenseman Alexander Petrovic – himself 6-4 and 205 — sought to engage Shayne Gostisbehere after a whistle. You may recall Wayne Simmonds, already with two goals on the night, incurred a 10-minute misconduct stepping into a similar scrum Petrovic initiated the last time these two teams played.
When at all possible, Folin is the man for that job.
More noticeable, perhaps, was the stellar third-period defensive play he made in his own zone, stripping the puck from a Panthers forward and launching Oskar Lindblom the other way for a shot that rung the iron above Robert Luongo's shoulder.
"I feel like I finished last season very strong," said Folin, who played for Los Angeles last season. "I wanted to keep that momentum. We don't have to go out and fight everyone, but if we play hard and make strong plays — that has to be part of our identity if we want to go a long way this year.
"When I'm on my game, I'm physical and moving pucks. I like that part. It's my identity."
Where have all the people gone?
The attendance figure for last night is wrong. I get that they only measure tickets sold these days, but if 19,147 people bought tickets to that game, thousands of them took a hit. Or they hung in the hallways all night.
I would love to see the concession figures for that game, and the sparsely attended one last Thursday against the Coyotes. I would also like to know that if 19,147 tickets were sold for last night's game, why the Flyers Twitter feed issued a discounted ticket notice at about 4:30 p.m.
Remember, the Flyers entered last night's game with a nice little six-game unbeaten streak. And still … crickets.
The bottom line is that the bottom line has to be hurting for a franchise listed among the top-3 in attendance last season, and the top-5 this season as well. They may be buying them, but they all ain't coming.
And they are having trouble unloading them too. Want to go to Thursday's game against New Jersey? On Wednesday morning, Stubhub had tickets for as little as $15.
Insert Phillies joke here.