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5 observations: Flyers fall in Detroit for 13th straight road loss; Risto takes blame

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Kevin Hayes, Travis Konecny, Philadelphia Flyers
Kevin Hayes (left) and Travis Konecny (right) each had two second-period assists Tuesday for the Flyers in Detroit. Photo: Zack Hill.

Death, taxes, and road losses by the Philadelphia Flyers.

Yep, they are inevitable these days.

The Flyers haven’t won on the road since the calendar flipped to 2022. Their latest loss was absorbed Tuesday at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.

Red Wings 6, Flyers 3.

That’s 13 straight road defeats for the Flyers (20-32-11), who haven’t won away from the Wells Fargo Center since a 3-2 overtime victory in Seattle on Dec. 29.

“I thought we played a real solid game, minus a few turnovers,” forward Joel Farabee said.

The game was closer than it looks. Detroit (26-30-7) scored a pair of empty-net goals.

“That loss was on me,” said defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, who had a turnover-plagued game. “I gave them three goals and that cost us the game.”

The franchise record for the longest winless road streak was in 1971-72, when the Flyers went 19 straight (0-15-4) during Fred Shero’s first coaching season. That team, like this one, had problems scoring goals. Bobby Clarke (35) and Simon Nolet (23) were the only Flyers who reached the 20-goal mark.

These Flyers started a five-game road trip Tuesday. The trip gets more difficult as the Flyers now travel to St. Louis, Colorado, Nashville, and Minnesota. Yikes.

1. Travis Konecny continues to open eyes with his slick passing.

Raise your hand if you thought Konecny would lead the Flyers in assists.

I don’t see any hands. I know mine wasn’t up.

OK, the fact that Sean Couturier has missed most of the season because of a back injury and Claude Giroux was traded has opened things up. Still, Konecny, a 25-year-old right winger, has truly been impressive with his set-ups.

Yes, he has just 10 goals, but he is getting his chances, and his passing has been phenomenal.

He sent Oskar Lindblom ahead of the pack with a perfect lead pass in the second period, and the left winger scored off the rush from deep inside the left circle. That cut the Flyers’ deficit to 3-2 and gave Konecny a team-leading 30 assists. He also had a helper on Farabee’s goal, which got the Flyers to within 3-1 earlier in the second.

Konecny had a career-high 37 assists in 2019-20, and he should surpass that number. He has assists in four of the last five games.

2. Kevin Hayes looks like his old self.

The veteran center has been sidelined by injuries most of the season, but in his latest return, he looks like the player who was stellar two years ago.

Hayes had a pair of second-period assists, giving him seven points (four goals, three assists) in his last five games. He had a chance to slice a 4-2 lead with 8:56 left in regulation, but Alex Nedjelkovic deflected the shot off the crossbar.

Just 19 seconds later, James van Riemsdyk did cut it to 4-3 with his 15th goal.

3. Dylan Larkin is a magician with the puck.

The Red Wings’ All-Star center made an outrageous pass to set up Jakub Vrana’s right-circle one-timer that gave Detroit a 4-2 lead with 69 seconds remaining in the second. It was his second primary assist of the night.

Larkin made a sensational move and pass to set up rookie Lucas Raymond’s 20th goal, another one-timer, just 67 seconds into the second.

4. Maybe the Flyers should have tried getting a first-round pick for Rasmus Ristolainen.

Ristolainen has been a shot-blocking machine this month, but he continues to have defensive lapses. He made mistakes Tuesday that led to first-period goals by Joe Valeno and Vrana that gave Detroit a 2-0 lead.

Valeno circled behind the net, but Ristolainen got in Carter Hart’s way as the goaltender tried to slide to the other side of the net, preventing him from making the save. About four minutes later, Ristolainen’s turnover led to Vrana’s fourth goal of the season.

Late in the second period, Ristolainen’s pass was tipped and intercepted, and it started a fastbreak into the Flyers’ zone that led to Vrana’s second goal of the night and put Detroit ahead, 4-2.

“We all make mistakes and it’s important how you respond, and I thought he responded in the third period,” said interim coach Mike Yeo, who called Ristolainen a “warrior.”

GM Chuck Fletcher gave the 6-foot-4, 221-pound Ristolainen to a five-year, $25.5 million extension on March 10. Before he signed, there had been speculation the Flyers would try to deal him for a first-round pick before Monday’s trade deadline.

5. Hard to believe that the Flyers finished 0-3 against the Red Wings this season.

It marked just the second time in franchise history that the Philadelphia Flyers failed to get a point in a season series (minimum of two games) against Detroit. The Flyers went 0-2 vs. the Red Wings  in 1993-94.

Entering Tuesday, the Wings had lost nine of their last 11, allowing a staggering 5.9 goals per game in those losses.

Breakaways

Zack MacEwen won two fights against Detroit’s Givani Smith. … Farabee, a winger who had some shifts at center because the Flyers dressed just 11 forwards, had two points. … Cam York, who again played on the top pairing, blocked four shots and played a team-high 23:36. … The Flyers struggled in the faceoff circle, where they obviously miss the traded Giroux, who is third in the NHL in draws (60.9%). … Philly played with 11 forwards and seven defensemen. … Centers Nate Thompson and Scott Laughton, each of whom are almost ready to return from injuries, could play at some point during the five-game trip. … The Flyers play Thursday in St. Louis against Craig Berube’s Blues.

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Superunoriginal

Definitely agree on #4.

Have to wonder about Fletcher’s thought process on Risto-related actions. I would think that even *after* signing him to the 5-year extension, the Flyers could have traded him for more than rental rates (like, a first-rounder plus some additional picks).

Maybe it goes back to the lack of depth on D. If the Flyers move on from Sanheim or Provorov (hoping they don’t), then they need some “proven” top 4 blueliner to eat minutes. Doesn’t mean they can’t try to move Risto in the offseason either…

I’m hopeful that the team can sign Attard and St. Ivany and try to bring Andrae over sooner than later to help regain some depth. Otherwise, I see them investing that 2022 first-rounder in Nemec or Jiricek when the team could really benefit from bolstering its prospect pool of centers (Cooley, Slafkovski, Savoie, or Lambert).

JEFFERY SAVAGE

Just joined PHIL HOCKEY NOW. I have been a Flyers fan for over 50 Years. I live in Denver, CO. I was heartsick when they traded Claude Giroux to Florida. Hope he does good tonight and can finally help the team win a CUP. Flyers fans no doubt like myself will be rooting for this also. I also hope that he comes back to the Flyers when he becomes an UFA this summer. And no, I do not follow the AVS. I am a die-hard Flyers fan.

GO FLYERS!! AND GOOD LUCK CLAUDE G. HAVE A GOOD GAME TONIGHT.

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