The California Goal Rush of 2018 came to an end Saturday night.
The Flyers nearly completed their first-ever sweep of the Golden State before losing to the Sharks, 4-3, in overtime Saturday night.
Which line stepped up offensively and how did Cal Pickard perform in his first start in over two weeks? Here are my observations from Saturday painful loss:
• James van Riemsdyk isn’t expected to return for another 10 to 14 days, but you can’t put him on one of the Flyers' top two lines, especially with how well the Oskar Lindblom-Nolan Patrick-Jakub Voracek combination has been clicking.
They seamlessly moved the puck through the neutral zone and were a step ahead of the Sharks' defense on their opening shift just 37 seconds into the game.
NOLAN IS WASTING NO TIME— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) November 4, 2018
He scores 37 seconds into the game to give the Flyers the 1-0 lead. pic.twitter.com/2XoEXAcs7G
• Lindblom showing so much poise working behind the net in setting up Patrick for the game-winner in Anaheim, and he did it yet again when he feathered a pass to Voracek in the slot for the go-ahead goal late in the second period. The Flyers rookie is having a breakthrough road trip with five points and a plus-5 rating. However, he was seen hobbling in the final minute of regulation after blocking a shot.
• There was nothing revealing about Jori Lehtera’s injury as the Flyers' fourth-line center played two shifts, left and tried to return late in the first period. Lehtera eventually returned in the third period, but if he’s unavailable for Monday’s game in Arizona, I would expect Dave Hakstol to move Scott Laughton to the middle and bring in Tyrell Goulbourne to play left wing, giving the Flyers two rookies on that fourth line.
• Superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson was an absolute mess in this game. He flipped the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty, was outmuscled by Nicolas Aube-Kubel along the boards and elected to make plays harder than they should have been. He was also outworked by Lindblom on the Flyers' third goal as the Sharks were in disarray defensively. Karlsson seems to have his struggles with Peter DeBoer’s structured system.
• Interesting decision from Hakstol to start Pickard given Brian Elliott’s success on this road trip. Perhaps it was a hunch, but there’s no passiveness to Pickard’s game. He had to come through with some very good saves in the first period, but he was also adventurous playing the puck. In one second-period sequence trying to clear the puck, he lost his stick and nearly gave up a goal. I’m still not convinced he can be a capable backup to Elliott as his positioning can be erratic at times. However, he had a very solid effort in making 31 saves.
• As expected, the Flyers surrendered yet another power-play goal, and an easy one at that as the Sharks moved the puck easily through the box and Joe Pavelski had a wide open net to shoot at, but they came up with some critical kills at key junctures of this road trip. They killed off a big power play against the Kings and did so once again when Radko Gudas was whistled for hooking.
• After trailing at some point in each of the first 11 games of the season, the Flyers have yet to play from behind in 180-plus minutes of this road trip.
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