It almost didn’t seem fair.
The Philadelphia Flyers’ lineup was vastly different Friday than before the trade deadline.
And Travis Konecny, who was a late scratch, was added to an injury list that already included Sean Couturier, and Ryan Ellis.
Minus those players, the Flyers got to face the NHL’s best team, the speedy Colorado Avalanche, on Friday.
Colorado, relentless all night, scored four first-period goals and coasted to a 6-3 win over the Flyers at Ball Arena.
“I thought we played a little bit safe in the first period,” interim coach Mike Yeo said. “Against a team like that with that kind of skill, you obviously have to play smart. It’s one thing to be on the defensive side of things, but if you’re so far back, you just allow them to attack with speed.”
Yeo said “the best way to stop speed is before it starts, and I didn’t think we did a very good job of that.”
Nazem Kadri had a goal and two assists — all in the first period — and Cale Makar netted two goals to spark Colorado (46-14-5), which scored 13 goals and fired 101 shots in its two wins over the Flyers this season.
The Flyers (21-33-11) were coming off Thursday’s a 5-2 win in St. Louis, a victory that snapped a 13-game road losing streak. They were aiming for back-to-back road victories for the first time since Dec. 10-11.
Didn’t come close to happening.
Here are five observations:
1. How different would the Flyers look if they had drafted defenseman Cale Makar with their first pick — No. 2 overall — in 2017?
That thought had to go through your mind as Makar collected his 23rd and 24th goals — breaking the single-season franchise record for a defenseman — and increased his point total to 73.
Makar showed great footwork to get free, and he scored on a left-circle drive to give Colorado a 6-3 lead with 11:35 left. That secured the win.
As for the 2017 draft, the Flyers took Nolan Patrick with the No, 2 overall selection. Two picks later, the Avalanche nabbed Makar, who looks like he will become one of the highest-scoring defensemen in NHL history.
Bob Clarke, a Flyers adviser, caused a stir in January when he said then-general manager Ron Hextall was the only person in the Flyers’ draft room who wanted Patrick. Clarke claimed all the Philadelphia Flyers’ scouts wanted Makar. Hextall, now the Penguins’ GM, politely declined a chance to respond to Clarke’s assertion.
Patrick had concussion problems and was traded last year. Makar is now a franchise cornerstone. His 24 goals are two more than the combined total of the Flyers’ defensemen.
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) March 26, 2022
2. The Avs showed why they are so dominating at home
After James van Riemsdyk (16th goal) scored on his own rebound to knot the score at 1-1, the Avs scored three goals in a 4:20 span to take a 4-1 first-period lead. Two of the goals deflected off Flyers — one off Nick Seeler, the other off Keith Yandle — but teams that are on the attack tend to create their own breaks.
With the win, Colorado is an NHL-best 26-4-3 at home. Earlier this season, the Avalanche had an 18-game home winning streak, the fifth-longest in NHL history. They are averaging about four goals a game at Ball Arena.
3. Poor Carter Hart.
The Flyers’ 23-year-old goalie probably aged during this game. He was under siege from the start and played well despite giving up six goals.
“They came out hard and fast and were all over us,” Hart said.
Colorado swarmed the net in waves. Again. When the teams met on Dec. 6, Colorado threw 50 shots on goal as it registered a 7-5 win against Martin Jones.
On Friday, the Avalanche finished with 51 shots, along with 83 shot attempts. The Flyers had 31 shots and 43 attempts.
The Flyers were playing on consecutive nights.
“Whether we didn’t have the energy, whether it was too much respect for them, we didn’t check the way we have been or the way we should,” Yeo said. “When you give a team like that so much time and space, they’re going to make you pay.”
4. Hayden Hodgson was impressive in his second game with the Flyers.
The 26-year-old winger didn’t duplicate his flashy debut — a goal, an assist and four hits in Thursday’s win in St. Louis. But he was in the middle of several quality chances. He had six shots and was robbed by Pavel Francouz on a point-blank shot in the opening period.
No Flyer played better than Hodgson.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) March 26, 2022
5. Give the outmanned Flyers credit for making a mini-run.
Goals by Zack MacEwen and Max Willman, of all people, cut the Avs’ 5-1 lead to 5-3. But Makar answered and put the game out of reach.
MacEwen, sent in alone on a pass by Cam York, scored on a breakaway late in the second period to snap a 52-game goal-less streak.
Willman broke a 27-game goal-less streak when he scored with 12:16 left in regulation.
Owent Tippett (six shots), trying for his first goal as a Flyer, was stopped by Francouz on a second-period breakaway. … Colorado won 62% of the faceoffs. … Since his latest promotion from Lehigh Valley, York has five points in nine games. … The Flyers play in Nashville on Sunday at 6 p.m. … Oskar Lindblom was jolted by a second-period hit from Makar. Lindblom returned to the game later in the period. … It took Colorado five seconds to score on its first power play. … The Phantoms’ Cal O’Reilly played in his 1,000th career pro game Friday, a 5-1 loss at Laval.