Quick takes on another gut-punch OT loss for Flyers
Unlucky was just part of the equation in a 5-4 overtime loss to Pittsburgh, their latest gut punch in a season already defined by them.
It doesn't come easy: The Penguins scored two goals despite making contact with Brian Elliott. Another goal was scored when Elliott's save of Bryan Rust's initial shot banked off the shaft of his stick and into the net.
The Flyers hit four posts in the second period alone, but they had a two-goal lead going into the third period and were outshot in it, 19-6. And yet they regained the lead on Michael Raffl's goal at 16:19. They benefited in the final seconds when the Pens this time rang the post.
So no, unlucky was just part of this 5-4 overtime loss to the Penguins, their latest gut punch in a season already defined by them. A lack of confidence is playing a big role these days too.
On the positive side, Danick Martel is making the most of the minutes he has received since his call up last week. His hard work behind net at the 8-minute mark of the first period drew a slashing call on Pittsburgh's Carter Rowney. It wasn't much of a hack on an equally active Travis Konecny, and Penguins coach Mike Sullivan let referee Eric Furlatt know it in no uncertain terms. Just 23 seconds into the Flyers power play, Sean Couturier was called on an equally ticky-tack call – the kind of call that invites the suspicion of influence.
One thing Dave Hakstol has been consistent about in his two-plus seasons as Flyers coach: He rarely works the referees. It matches his normally stoic analysis of what happens on the ice, and his reluctance (sometimes downright refusal) to publicly criticize his players. But you wonder if there is anything, as there is in other sports, to influencing calls with a well-placed coaching tantrum or two. Seems to work in other sports, and elsewhere in the NHL as well.
Back to Martel though. Over the first two periods, he had 10 shifts and 6:42 of ice time. He took three shots on goal, clanking the top corner where the post and crossbar meet in the second (more about that below). He blocked a shot, made a couple of nifty passes to set up other shots, and created the aforementioned penalty with plain old hard work.
Looks like he wants to stay.
If only this was horseshoes… My unofficial count was four posts. Andrew MacDonald thought it was "five, or six." Either or, in hockey, hitting the post gets you nothing but frustrated.
Robert Hagg hit a crossbar early in the second period. Then at around the 12:17 mark, Nolan Patrick hit the crossbar on the other side. Two minutes later, Ivan Provorov clanked one off the post. Throw in Martel's near-ringer, and the Flyers could have built quite the lead in horseshoes.
Sean Couturier's goal late in the second period to push the Flyers ahead 3-1, may have grazed the inside of the post. But clearly the way their luck has gone for most of this month, the Flyers need the kind of puck luck that helped the Penguins tie the game. Brian Elliott made the save on Bryan Rust's initial shot off the breakaway, but the rebound banged fortuitously off the shaft of his stick and past a startled Elliott.
Then again, a safer play at the blueline by Shayne Gostisbehere with the lead, against a dangerous countering team, and Rust wouldn't have that chance.
How to help your team out of a slump: Take a beating. Konecny, who is listed as 5-10, gave the Flyers their second-period 2-1 lead by driving to the front of the net with 6-4 Brian Dumoulin on top of him for the entire play. It was such gritty work he probably didn't even feel the puck as it deflected off him.