Flyers-Jets 10 observations: Mason backstops team to impressive win

Flyers-Jets 10 observations: Mason backstops team to impressive win

The Flyers picked up a really good win on Thursday night with a 5-2 decision over the Winnipeg Jets at the Wells Fargo Center after letting one slip through their fingertips on Tuesday night (see Instant Replay).

Let’s get into the action with 10 observations:

1. Strong response by the Flyers. The Jets came to town with the NHL’s top goal scorer (Patrik Laine), No. 1 point getter (Mark Scheifele) and four wins in their last five games, a span in which they outscored opponents 20-9. But the orange and black, for once, put it all together with good offensive and defensive play backed by strong goaltending.

2. An underrated performance by Steve Mason. Neither of the two goals allowed were bad. The one was just a product of beautiful passing by the Jets. Mason made some quality saves and difficult stops against an offense that was rolling. He finished with 30 saves after calling himself out the game prior.

3. Mark Streit made up for the absence of Shayne Gostisbehere and his mighty shot by lacing a slap shot home in the second period to extend the Flyers’ lead to 3-1. Gostisbehere was sitting up in the press box wearing a suit. He was pretty emotionless as expected after being healthy-scratched by head coach Dave Hakstol. Streit leads all Flyers defensemen in goals (four) and points (11). Trade bait when the deadline comes?

4. You can’t fault Matt Read’s drive. He works his tail off and that’s why he’s hung on to his job and spot in the lineup after underwhelming the past two seasons. General manager Ron Hextall and Hakstol extolled the 30-year-old prior to training camp for his work ethic. So far this season, it’s paid off. His hustle set up the Flyers’ second goal in the first period. Read won a foot race to the puck by full-out diving and whacking a pass to Michael Raffl all alone for a breakaway tally.

5. Sean Couturier scored three goals in the first three games of the season. Since then, he went a bit quiet goal-wise. He started the game’s scoring with a nice shot top shelf to give him just his second marker in 15 games since the opening three.

6. Claude Giroux registered an assist, giving him 364 in his career. He’s now three away from passing Rod Brind’Amour (366) for seventh on the Flyers’ all-time list, and six from passing Rick MacLeish (369) and Eric Lindros (369) for fifth. Giroux has quietly put up at least one point in 14 of the Flyers’ 18 games.

7. Nick Cousins is a scrappy guy and unafraid to stand up for himself against the big boys. The 5-foot-10, 188-pound forward mixed it up with 6-foot-3, 219-pound defenseman Ben Chiarot. At one point, Chiarot had a firm grip of Cousins’ face as the two were pressed up against the glass following a whistle.

8. Flyers prospect Pascal Laberge was in the press box with the healthy scratches as he continues to recover from a concussion suffered on this vicious hit. The 18-year-old has not played for his junior club Victoriaville since Oct. 15, the day of the hit. Laberge, drafted by the Flyers in the second round this June, is a kid that’s been through quite a bit.

9. This was just the second time the Flyers scored four or more goals and allowed two or fewer in the same game this season.

10. It was Tough Guys Night at the Wells Fargo Center as part of the season-long celebration of the Flyers’ 50th anniversary. Throughout the game, the Flyers honored some of the organization’s toughest players with video tributes and arena-vision interviews.

Get in the holiday spirit with the Flyers

Philadelphia Flyers

Get in the holiday spirit with the Flyers

Before the Flyers get in the spirit for a sixth straight win on Saturday night, they’ll get you in the holiday spirit, too.

Prior to puck drop against the Stars on NBC Sports Philadelphia, the Flyers will put on a unique holiday-themed light show, which will illuminate the Wells Fargo Center and its ice.

The “Holiday Light Spectacular,” which is presented by the Rothman Institute at Jefferson, will be a 10-minute show starting at 7 p.m., as all fans will be given light-up bracelets to complement a fun Flyers holiday video featured on the ice.

“This show is a new, can’t-miss holiday attraction in Philadelphia and one that we hope becomes an annual tradition for us,” Shawn Tilger, the Flyers’ executive vice president, chief operating officer, alternate governor, said in a release by the team. “This show is in line with the holiday staples of the region, and we’re excited to bring entertainment of this caliber to Flyers fans here on Saturday night.”

For fans with youngsters, Santa Claus will also be in attendance, taking free photos on the main concourse.

Flyers grind for ugly win over Sabres to push streak to 5

Flyers grind for ugly win over Sabres to push streak to 5


It was a Flyers’ win with a capital “U.” 

That’s “U” as in ugly.

However, it was still good enough to beat the worst team in the Eastern Conference, the Buffalo Sabres, as the Flyers skated away with a 2-1 victory at the Wells Fargo Center Thursday night (see observations).

It’s the type of game the Flyers lost earlier in the season during their previous homestead when they came out sloppy against the lowly Arizona Coyotes in an eventual 4-3 loss in overtime.  

“I thought this was a boring game,” Jakub Voracek said. “Honestly, I don’t think we played good today, but we got the win, which is really important. You’re not going to play great every night. We played well when we needed to, but we can play a lot better, which is positive.”

Nothing was uglier than the game’s first goal when Brian Elliott attempted to play the puck behind his net. Buffalo’s Zemgus Girgensons intercepted Elliott’s pass and fed the puck to Ryan O’Reilly, who had a wide-open, unattended net in front of him.

“They came hard and a little miscommunication,” Elliott said. “Bad play on my part and we did a heck of a job of coming back and tying that up. That can go sideways in a hurry. We sorted it out, but our first period was kind of sloppy.”

After Elliott nearly made the same mistake again in the opening period, the Flyers rebounded to the tie game at 1-1 as Travis Sanheim scored his first NHL goal off a feed from Dale Weise (see highlights). However, even Sanheim admitted, the goal was a silver lining from a dark cloud that was looming over him defensively with failed clears and breakdowns in coverage.  

“I don’t think we were very happy with our first period, especially me,” Sanheim said. “Minus the goal, I thought that might have been my worst period of the season, but I think we bounced back and battled hard in the final 40 and came through with the win.”

“He’s been pressing for a little while, so I was so happy to see him get a smile on his face,” Weise said of Sanheim’s goal. “That’s going to do wonders for his game. You see a shift after he gets another chance there. I’m so happy for him.”

Sanheim’s season in some ways has mirrored that of the Flyers’ schedule — a yo-yo performance with bouts of inconsistency. Coming off a 10-game winless stretch, the Flyers have now won five straight. Throughout both streaks, head coach Dave Hakstol has stuck with Sanheim when some coaches may have wavered. 

“There’s always lessons along the way, especially for a young defenseman,” Hakstol said. “He’s had some bumps in the road that every defenseman is going to go through. Tonight’s maybe a little indicative of that. Travis is always honest with himself and the evaluation of his own play, and for me, that always helps keep his feet on the ground and move on to the next challenge.”

“I want to make hard plays and I’ve got to make sure the puck gets over our blue line,” Sanheim said. “It’s easier to sit back and say I could have done this, I could have done that. Going forward, I’ve just got to try and limit those mistakes and try and play a harder game.” 

The Flyers eventually produced the breakthrough goal late in the second period on a tic-tac-toe play started by Michael Raffl, who fed a pass to Voracek and then onto Valtteri Filppula for the one-time goal.

“Those are the best wins,” said Raffl, who played in his 300th career game. “You’re pretty happy when you win 4-1 and you play your best game. It’s easy to laugh, but that was a war out there and the last period, especially, but we came together as a group.”

Of the 14 one-goal games the Flyers have played this season, this was just the third time they earned a victory. Many of those games when they failed to earn a winning decision came after regulation.

“It’s all about confidence,” Voracek said. “Two or three weeks ago when we went into the third period, we would lose that game. Now it’s about making sure those loose pucks get out of the zone and don’t make any dumb decisions.”

“I think it’s huge. When we were in that streak, we blew a lot of leads late in games,” Weise said. “Minus the last two minutes where I think we sat back a little, I thought we did a good job of moving the puck forward, forechecking and not sitting back too much. It’s more of a mental thing to win those type of games.”