Flyers

Questionable hit on Oskar Lindblom should be added frustration for Flyers

Questionable hit on Oskar Lindblom should be added frustration for Flyers

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Through two home games, the Flyers have already dealt with two different levels of frustration.

The first was obvious. An 8-2 loss in the home opener explains it quite clearly. The Flyers were incensed by the result and wanted to make certain their next showing at the Wells Fargo Center was, at the least, acceptable.

The frustration Saturday wasn't just from playing a "hell of game," as head coach Dave Hakstol put it, to only lose in the final minute and half of regulation, 1-0 (see observations).

What should have ticked off the Flyers just as much was the hit on Oskar Lindblom midway through the third period. 

While the Flyers were in the offensive zone, Lindblom lost the puck along the side boards with Golden Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb in coverage. As Lindblom stopped to retreat, McNabb slammed him face-first into the boards and appeared to use his forearm up against Lindblom's head.

The 22-year-old winger stayed down on the ice as play eventually stopped. He was helped off and never returned over the final 9:20 of regulation. No penalty was called on the hit and as the replay was shown on the Jumbroton, Flyers fans went berserk.

The play certainly could have been whistled a penalty. These types of hits, in which the head is impacted, have been penalized before by NHL officials. At the same time, Lindblom is 6-foot-1 and not fully upright on the play, compared to the 6-foot-4 McNabb (see video).

Hakstol had a good take on the play:

The ref was in a good spot on it. I haven't looked at it on tape. That's a big guy hitting a smaller … Oskar's not as big as he is. From my vantage point, was it a high hit? Yeah. Was it a penalty? I don't know, [the officials are] standing right there. They're in a spot to make the call. I can go back and ref by video, I'll go back and take a look at it. It looked like it could have been a high hit, they were right there in position, so defer to their call.

It's a tough play all the way around and a non-call that hurt the Flyers. If it's whistled, the Flyers go on the power play with a chance at the game's first goal and all the momentum. Instead, their second-line left winger exits and doesn't return. 

And the Flyers can ill-afford more injuries up front. 

They're already without James van Riemsdyk (lower-body injury) for five to six weeks and Nolan Patrick (upper-body injury) for seven to 10 days. Travis Konecny left practice Friday after taking a puck to the skate but was able to play, albeit only 11:50, while Scott Laughton took a spill into the boards Saturday and departed momentarily.

After two power plays in the first period, the Flyers never went on the man advantage again. They didn't get the call in the third, nor could they crack Marc-Andre Fleury, who made four highlight-reel saves, simply adding to the Flyers' frustration.

Sometimes, these losses sting just as bad as the embarrassing ones.

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Flyers' carelessness is 'embarrassing' and 'getting out of hand'

Flyers' carelessness is 'embarrassing' and 'getting out of hand'

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — As the catchy commercial jingle goes, “Nationwide is on your side.”

It definitely wasn’t on the Flyers' side Thursday night, although it could have been.

The Columbus Blue Jackets not only came into this game without their best defenseman Seth Jones, but Sergei Bobrovsky was torched for eight goals just five days prior in an 8-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Against the Flyers, Bobrovsky was good, but not great.

Right now, the Flyers need one of Nationwide’s healthy insurance policies, one that comes in handy in the event of a catastrophe. They are a disaster waiting to happen or at least felt like it Thursday in a 6-3 loss to the Blue Jackets (see observations).

On any given night through the first two weeks, the goaltender has been susceptible to soft goals, or the defensemen in front of him commits a turnover that finds its way into the back of the net, or the Flyers get caught in a bad line change, or they get outworked or outhustled along the walls, or they give up an odd-man rush that leads to an easy goal.

If you had to administer a multiple choice test on how you would describe the team’s defensive flaws, the answer would be “D — all of the above,” to pretty much every question.

Thursday night, one particular play seemed to light Dave Hakstol’s fuse.

With the Flyers leading 2-1 and the top line at the end of a shift in the Blue Jackets' zone, Claude Giroux backhanded a pass that Artemi Panarin jumped all over. From there, Panarin cruised into the Flyers' zone and threaded a cross-ice, tape-to-tape pass to Cam Atkinson, who buried it for the goal (see highlights).

If Giroux doesn’t make the pass, if Jakub Voracek races back to break up the pass, then the goal could have been avoided.

“You have to finish your shifts, you have to do things the right way and the hard way,” Hakstol said. “Until we get that into our game where it’s consistent in terms of finishing our shifts, and finishing those types of plays, we’re going to give up those opportunities against our goaltenders.”

Even the Flyers' best defender Sean Couturier, who was on the ice for that goal and Columbus’ final goal, has finally seen enough.

“Pretty embarrassing. It’s got to stop,” Couturier said. “Those high-risk plays — almost summer hockey. It’s getting out of hand here.”

It’s the type of boneheaded hockey that Couturier sees all the time during June, July and August when guys play pick-up hockey, but it’s inexcusable once October rolls around.

Through seven games, the Flyers have allowed an average of 4.43 goals per game. It’s a small sample size but only the Detroit Red Wings have been worse and they’re expected to be terrible. While the Flyers have the firepower to score, they can’t afford to play run-and-gun hockey.

“Our biggest thing so far is that we need more consistent execution,” general manager Ron Hextall said pregame. “More consistent execution makes you a better team. At times, we get a little bit complacent. You can’t be complacent.”

Complacency in the NHL has its place, and it’s usually somewhere close to last place if it continues.

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Blue Jackets 6, Flyers 3: Where's the defense and goaltending?

Blue Jackets 6, Flyers 3: Where's the defense and goaltending?

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Cannon fire erupted at Nationwide Arena Thursday night as the Columbus Blue Jackets doubled up the Flyers, 6-3.

The Flyers have now allowed five or more goals in four of their first seven games to start the season.

Where were the breakdowns in Columbus?

Here are my observations from Nationwide Arena:

• Ivan Provorov’s struggles continued in the opening period. The Flyers' defenseman had a bad turnover to Anthony Duclair, he got turned around during another shift and Provorov's failure to corral the puck led to an eventual tripping call against Sonny Milano. General manager Ron Hextall said Provorov’s not injured but he’s not playing up to his standards.

“It’s just six games," Hextall said pregame. "Let’s be careful not to overreact.”

Last season, Provorov had a 10-to-15-game stretch midseason in which the puck looked like a hand grenade on his stick.

• If you track the Flyers' shot location in the first period, the team was mostly directing shots against Sergei Bobrovsky on the bottom half of the net — either looking for a rebound or a redirected tip-in. Travis Konecny connected on a terrific tip that went five-hole and you could sense from Konecny’s reaction the relief to finally get that first goal of the season.

• After breaking through with two goals on Bobrovsky in the first period, the Flyers resorted to trying to make the pretty pass and the perfect play in the second period as opposed to just getting the puck on net, creating rebound opportunities and sticking to what worked in the first 20 minutes.

• Give Duclair credit for making a very athletic play, but I think Robert Hagg can do a better job of preventing a quality scoring chance and eventually a highlight goal. Duclair fell to the ice, got back up and beat Pickard with a nice shot in the first period.

Hagg was also on the ice when Cam Atkinson sped around him and scored the Jackets' 3-2 go-ahead goal during the second period. In both instances, I’d like to see Hagg make a stronger attempt at breaking up those plays even if it means taking a penalty. Deep in your zone in the high-danger areas, those are penalties worth taking.

• It will be interesting to see how Dave Hakstol restructures his lines once Nolan Patrick is cleared to return to the team. Jordan Weal has looked really solid in the few games he’s played at center. Oskar Lindblom was buzzing offensively on Weal’s wing and that line scored in the opening minute of the third period to close the gap to 4-3.

I also liked Weal’s attention to detail on the defensive side of the puck until his costly tripping penalty late in the third period.

• Hakstol said the plan all along was for Calvin Pickard to start this game, but I really wondered if he would have followed through on that had the Flyers not coughed up a 5-2 lead to the Panthers Tuesday.

Pickard’s performance was the product of the defense in front of him, but sometimes you need your goaltender to make the saves they’re not expected to make. Foligno’s snap shot from between the circles is definitely a stoppable shot and certainly Milano’s wraparound from a sharp angle.

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