Newly hired general manager Chuck Fletcher got his first look at his new team and saw an impressive third-period comeback against one of the NHL’s best goaltenders.
Despite Travis Sanheim’s two-goal effort in a span of 2:05, Columbus defenseman Seth Jones scored the game-winner just 10 seconds into overtime to hand the Flyers a 4-3 loss Thursday.
What can the Flyers do with their bottom three lines and, aside from Sanheim, what was the one other bright spot in this game?
Let's get into the observations:
• The only real sustained threat of offense came from the Flyers' top line, which has been the case over the past three weeks. Sean Couturier did a nice job on the Flyers' first goal to bang the puck off the boards from deep in the Flyers' zone, which sprung Travis Konecny and Claude Giroux on a 2-on-1 chance with Giroux snapping a shot over the shoulder. That No. 1 line had a goal taken off the board on an offsides play, and Couturier had a wide-open net only to shoot the puck right into Sergei Bobrovsky’s pads. Right now, it’s the only line you can’t break up.
• If Fletcher is looking to upgrade at the forward position, second-line center Nolan Patrick certainly didn’t show him much through the first 40 minutes. Patrick lost a 1-on-1 battle, which eventually led to Columbus’ second goal of the game. Patrick had a handful of shots on net, but there wasn’t much speed to his game and he didn’t have much puck possession time in the Jackets' zone.
• The Flyers' third line didn’t perform much better, with Scott Laughton guilty of a pair of penalties in the second period. Laughton doesn’t generate offensively at center like he does at wing, leaving Dave Hakstol without a solid, reliable third-line center with Jordan Weal serving as a healthy scratch. Finding some center depth should be one of Fletcher’s priorities before the trade deadline or in the offseason.
• If Anthony Stolarz is looking to establish himself as a No. 1 goaltender, he can’t be susceptible to that one bad goal per game. Stolarz gave up a weak goal to Jones. Even though Jones was shooting from close range and may have partially whiffed, the puck never left the ice and slid through the five-hole for a very leaky goal.
• Hakstol believes he has seen improved play out of the penalty kill and after the first period, that unit has now killed 14 straight power-play opportunities. However, the Flyers got away with one on Columbus’ first chance. A coverage breakdown left Alexander Weinberg unattended all alone in front of Stolarz, who did a solid job of using his long stick to disrupt the pass. Later on that PK, Stolarz robbed Artemi Panarin with a highlight glove save.
• Hakstol had seen enough from James van Riemsdyk to replace him on the Flyers' top power-play unit with Wayne Simmonds. Perhaps it’s more of a feeling of familiarity, but van Riemsdyk has really struggled in his return from injury. He’s been hardly noticeable, with no points in seven of his last eight games, and in his last three, he has just one shot on net.
• Where in the world did Sanheim come from? Beautiful move from Sanheim to jump into the attack on a give-and-go play with Giroux, which led to Sanheim’s first goal of the season. We need to see more of those plays from Sanheim, who made a terrific move from forehand to backhand to beat Bobrovsky cleanly at the goalmouth. Moments later, he scored his second goal with a short-side snipe to tie the game.
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