When all went wrong for the Flyers two weeks ago, the scoring dried up at the expense of the coaching staff tightening up the system to cover up for the team’s defensive deficiencies.
The Flyers failed to create quality scoring chances and relied too heavily on perimeter shots, which has been an often-used strategy during the Dave Hakstol era to mixed results.
They weren’t creating enough from down low in high-danger areas. During their three-game losing streak, they scored two goals in 180 minutes, but it wasn’t for a lack of shots on goal.
In fact, the Flyers outshot their opponents, 87-80. Not exactly a huge margin, but still. What the numbers say backs up the eye test too. The Flyers were not creating dangerous chances.
Out West, the Flyers rediscovered their scoring touch. They tallied 11 goals in the first three games, outshooting their opponents, 92-87, but also shooting more from high-danger zones.
One player, in particular, who helped the Flyers shift away from being a perimeter team in California is 22-year-old winger Oskar Lindblom, who had a career week in the Golden State.
Lindblom had the most productive week of his brief NHL career, one that saw the strong possession numbers translate into point production, which pleases both crowds of fans.
With back-to-back multi-point games and a three-game point streak, Lindblom enters Monday carrying momentum along with his linemates Nolan Patrick and Jakub Voracek.
It’s a small sample size, but Lindblom set up shop behind the net and went to work, in puck battles and creating opportunities. Three of his four assists last week came from this area.
Let’s take a look at the film to explain why the Flyers need to create more offense from this area and what Lindblom does so well there.
There was a lot to like about Patrick’s goal Tuesday. Robert Hagg held the line twice, allowing for the offensive-zone time and Lindblom went directly to his workspace around the net.
Lindblom was camped in front of the net on Hagg’s second keep-in, which allowed him to get to the puck easily behind the net. Before he scooped it up, he surveyed his options and saw Patrick maneuvering his way into the slot where there was a huge pocket lacking Ducks.
Patrick beat Ryan Miller on a “perfectly bad shot.” But without Lindblom’s yeoman's work, this goal never happens.
Simmonds' goal in L.A.
On Wayne Simmonds' goal Thursday, Lindblom's work behind the net was on full display. Lindblom scooped up a rebound behind the cage, backhanded in front, followed through, and then held off Adrian Kempe in a battle before hitting Simmonds for the one-timer.
The zoomed-out look gives you a good perspective of Lindblom's vision of seeing Simmonds sneak into scoring position.
This angle shows you exactly where he hit Simmonds on the tape.
Voracek goal in San Jose
On the first two plays we looked at, Lindblom had sustained work down low leading to him picking up an assist. This goal was slightly different but the same premise.
It was a fast-moving play with a delayed penalty after Brent Burns tripped Ivan Provorov on a mini-break. Lindblom simply gathered the puck behind the net, looked at his options and threaded a slow-moving pass into an area where Voracek was heading.
This was a good example of why attacking defenses from behind the net should be a strategy the Flyers adopt more often.
The Flyers began attacking more from down low in the zone, and as the cliché goes, they got pucks deep and created offense from it.
We can formulate theories as for why the Flyers were looser out West, but they adopted an attacking offensive strategy that they hopefully will stick to going forward.
The results in California were encouraging — Lindblom especially. Let's hope the Flyers keep the tape from last week pinned to their Twitters.
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