It was a bit more of a calm week for the Flyers, who had just three games since Monday. That had to be a nice change of pace for Dave Hakstol and his coaching staff, who actually had time to get a practice or two in and had some time to work on the warts that are still showing up in the Flyers’ performances.
And it was a solid week for the Flyers standings-wise with an overtime win over Detroit, a shootout win over the Islanders in Brooklyn and a hard-fought loss in Montreal. So they came out with four of a possible six points. Those last two were for the taking at the Bell Centre, though, and slipped through the Flyers’ hands.
Let’s dive into the week that was for the orange and black.
• If for nothing else, these Flyers sure know how to keep it exciting, don’t they? All three games this week were thrilling one-goal contests and the Flyers came out on top in two of them. Nine of the 13 games the Flyers have played this year have been decided by one goal, including the last seven. The Flyers are 4-4-1 in those one-goal games, with the four wins tied for most in the NHL in one-goal games. The four regulation losses in one-goal games are the most in the league. Another slow start didn’t hurt them against Detroit, thanks to late heroics from Mark Streit and Jake Voracek. Then the Flyers followed that up the next night with perhaps their most complete game of the year in the shootout win over the Islanders. Sure, they had to tie it up in the final minutes again and eventually go to a shootout, but it wasn’t one of those games where the Flyers slogged around for about 50 minutes and then turned it on at the end. They dominated the Isles, outshot them, 42-27, and deserved the win for being the better team that night. They deserved to win Saturday in Montreal, too (more on that game in a bit). Take out the sloppy first period against Detroit on Wednesday. If the Flyers can consistently play the way they did for eight of nine periods this week, they’re going to win plenty of hockey games.
• It wouldn’t be Philadelphia if we didn’t talk about goaltending, right? While the Flyers won two of three games this week, the goaltending wasn’t strong yet again. And that falls on Michal Neuvirth, who started all three games. It’s not that he didn’t make some tough saves. Far from that. It’s that he didn’t make some of the ones he had to have. Andreas Anthanasiou’s short-side goal that made it 2-0 Detroit on Wednesday was ugly. Dennis Seidenberg’s third-period goal Thursday in Brooklyn has to be stopped. That can’t go through the five-hole like that. Fortunately for the Flyers, it didn’t hurt them in the end. But it all came crashing down Saturday in Montreal in the third period. First Neuvirth had the bad turnover behind the net that led to the Habs’ fourth goal. But the dagger came after the Flyers made it 4-3, when Neuvirth let in Tomas Plekanec’s goal through the five-hole. That’s one he has to have. Sure, the Flyers were skating into a hornets nest Saturday after the Habs were pummeled, 10-0, in Columbus Friday, but any time you can put four goals on Carey Price, you have to come out with two points. Let’s put Saturday in perspective: Neuvirth gave up five goals on 17 shots for a .706 save percentage. Montreal’s Al Montoya gave up 10 goals on 40 shots and still had a better save percentage at .750. Neuvirth is too talented to keep giving up the weak ones. Don’t be surprised to see Mason back in Tuesday against Detroit as Hakstol looks for one of his goalies to get hot.
• Michael Del Zotto, who missed the first four weeks of the season with a knee injury, looked good in his return Saturday in Montreal. He logged 17:34 of ice time and posted an assist and a team-high seven hits. That interference penalty he took at the end of the game was a tough one. Look for his ice time to go up as he gets into more of a groove. The Del Zotto-Shayne Gostisbehere pairing looks like it could be a keeper, too.
• Another week of Flyers observations, another observation about the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. But the department got it right this week when it didn’t interview Brayden Schenn about his hit to the head of Detroit’s Brendan Smith on Wednesday. Schenn was clearly doing everything he could to get out of the way and incidentally ran into Smith, who had his head down on the play. But considering Schenn’s reputation with the department, and the fact he was suspended three games at the start of the season, it is a bit surprising he didn’t at least get a call.
• Remember in the home opener against Anaheim when the Flyers went 1 for 7 with the man advantage? Seems like ancient history, doesn’t it? The Flyers’ power play is now on fire. It cashed in three more times this week and is now up to third in the league with a 27.4 percent success rate.
• Two things you have to like about Travis Konecny’s game: he’s not afraid to go to the dirty areas and he sticks with plays. Though he was stopped on his initial breakaway Thursday, he stuck with the play and slammed the puck home past Jaroslav Halak. He had another break against Montreal, and though he was stoned by Price, he stuck with the puck, kept the play going and Gostisbehere eventually put the puck in a few moments later. And then he had the nice deflection in front that gave the Flyers some late life. Those are the kinds of intangibles that are tough to teach. Impressive stuff for a 19-year-old.
• That Claude Giroux shootout goal on Thursday in Brooklyn? Sheesh.
Coming up this week: Tuesday vs. Detroit (7 p.m./CSN), Friday at Toronto (7 p.m./TCN), Saturday vs. Minnesota (7 p.m./CSN).