Well, it’s about when we can usually say that the Flyers survived their back-to-back against tough division opponents in the Capitals and Rangers, but that may not be entirely accurate. After losing yesterday’s game 4-0, the Flyers were beaten 13-2 during their last two games, and six players suffered injuries on Tuesday and missed yesterday’s game. Not good!
The Flyers were without Cam Atkinson, Patrick Brown, Nate Thompson, Rasmus Ristolainen, Cam York and Carter Hart in this one, so we all had Tanner Laczynski, Egor Zamula and Felix Sandstrom called up from Phantoms prior to this game (have you all the?). The Flyers had 14 out of 20 players dressed for this game of 25 years or younger, so the kids team is here.
So since we’re missing a prospect report this week, we’ll merge it with our post-game observations, because suddenly all the prospects are here or something.
All statistics via Natural Stat Trick.
He may not make a very flashy highlight with acting every single night, but there always seems to be a few minor plays that Cates does that make us say “it was really good, it was really smart.” Last night we saw him continue to push the pace well, show strength and balance in puck fights along the boards and he blinked a bit especially once and made a clean check on Panarin to force a turnover. For as much as we are talking about it taking some time for players to adjust to the pace of the game at this level, then Cates has stepped in directly and seemed to have no issues with it. He continues to impress us and impress his teammates (Scott Laughton yelled at him after the match for how smart he plays and how much he enjoys playing with him), and he puts together a strong case to keep the team on track next season.
All the players called up from the Phantoms for this game were thrown directly into a difficult situation considering how the last match had gone, but this was especially true for Sandstrom. He had a diminished defense playing in front of him and did not provide as much help as one might hope for and he had a powerful offensive on the other side to contend with. All in all, he held up pretty well, all things considered. He stopped 30 of the 33 shots he faced, to a save percentage of 0.909. These were not the most beautiful performances – when we talk about tempo, it seemed that things moved a hair quickly for Sandstrom, and he looked more like he was just reacting to plays instead of reading and anticipating them, so he saw not the best. – but it was nice enough for his first match in a while. If Hart is to be out in the long run, we’ll see how Sandstrom is able to build on this, but it’s not a terrible foundation to start with.
It was starting to feel like we might not see Zamula with the Flyers again this season, but surprise! He’s back again. He was immediately thrown into a pretty big role (he played 22 minutes on the second pair in the evening) and that’s a difficult question, but he held up well in those minutes. He looked a bit more comfortable than he did in his first game earlier in the season, and seemed more confident with the puck in general (confident enough to activate a good chance low in the offensive zone, we might add).
The question of whether his strength has improved enough for him to last beyond a longer stretch of play at this level is still open, but hey, that was enough for him to survive this first fight back.
What an ugly pair of games for Brink to get his first taste of the NHL in, huh? It’s an ordeal by fire (and that may be easy to say), but Brink is doing well in his first few fights. We did not see quite as much of his offensive as it did in his first match, but he still looked good. He still hit three scoring chances across all situations and still brought a nice bit of the characteristic persistence.
This one ended in a slightly tough look for Brink – he had a golden opportunity for a powerplay goal late in the game, for his first NHL goal, and the puck not only jumped right over his cane, but was immediately selected. up by the Rangers and sent the other way after the empty goal – and that’s just unfortunate. It’s a really unfortunate game and a tough outcome, but it should not pollute what was otherwise a pretty good match. The Flyers’ curse has just found its way to him in chain speed.
Laczynski made his season debut for the Flyers on the fourth line last night, and it was really nice to see that it finally happened, with how he has been through the wrestler this year with injuries. It was a kind of quiet night for him (he only played a little under nine and a half minutes), but he looked solid and comfortable at this level. He chipped a high dangerous scoring chance into those minutes, and seemed to fall well with the new linemates Oskar Lindblom and Zack MacEwen. Like Cates, Laczynski does not usually bring flashes in droves, but the finer points of his game seemed to click well enough. The statuses of all the injured strikers remain up in the air so we’ll see if Laczynski sticks to the weekend, but even though this was the only look for now, he jumped right into the mix and was able to keep up. well.
Speaking of kids who played in limited roles last night, it was also relatively quiet for Attard. And honestly, after how messy Tuesday was for him, that’s probably the best we can say. It’s been a bit of an up and down battle for him as he works to reduce some of the risk in his game at this level, but last night he got things started back in the right direction again (which feels like an even bigger achievement , when we note that he did when he was paired with Keith Yandle again). Not much happens to him on the offensive side, but he got a look at penalty kills, which, although brief, say something about the faith that the coaching staff has in him (at least compared to some of the others in the ranks ). He gets some good opportunities here and we’ll see if he is able to keep this in the right direction.