Most Philly sports fans were probably watching the 76ers or the Phillies on Monday night. Only the diehards were viewing the Philadelphia Flyers, whose season lost its meaning months ago.
Here’s what most of you missed: The Flyers’ attempt at their second three-game winning streak of the season fell short at the United Center. They allowed two goals in the first 6:15 and never recovered, falling to the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-1.
“We didn’t manage the puck very well,” interim coach Mike Yeo said. “We turned over the puck and allowed them to transition on us.”
Here are five observations:
1. The loss helps the Flyers in the draft-lottery race.
The Flyers (61 points) have the NHL’s fourth-worst record with two games remaining. According to tankathon.com, they have a 9.5% chance to win the lottery and get the No. 1 overall draft pick, which is expected to be center Shane Wright.
Montreal has he best chance, at 18.5%.
Chicago has the sixth-worst record with 65 points. A regulation win by the Flyers Monday would have put them in a tie with the Blackhawks.
It’s likely the Flyers will finish with the fourth- or fifth-worst point total. New Jersey has 62 points and has a game in hand on Philadelphia. The Flyers’ two straight wins before Monday put them ahead of Seattle (58 points), which has the league’s third-worst record.
2. The young players were so good in Sunday’s upset of Pittsburgh, and so shaky in the early minutes Monday.
A giveaway by 22-year-old Joel Farabee (minus-3) led to a goal by former Flyer Erik Gustafsson just 1:44 into the game. He scored on a point shot, notching his first goal in 20 games. A little over four minutes later, a turnover by 20-year-old rookie Bobby Brink (minus-2) contributed to Jonathan Toews’ breakaway goal after he left the penalty box.
3. Goalie Felix Sandstrom rebounded nicely.
Sandstrom, 25, playing in his fourth NHL game, didn’t look comfortable on either of Chicago’s first-period goals. But Sandstrom (0-3-1) got better as the game progressed, and made a sensational diving save to rob Philipp Kurashev with 6:01 left in the first. With 1:20 to go in the period, he made a sprawling save on Dominik Kubalik’s one-timer from the right circle.
After allowing two goals on Chicago’s first four shots, Sandstrom stopped 26 straight before Alex DeBrinkat (41st goal) scored on a left-circle one-timer to put the Blackhawks ahead, 3-1, with 12:15 remaining in the third.
“Felix was outstanding,” Yeo said. “He did a hell of a job of settling into the game.”
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) April 26, 2022
4. Kevin Hayes continues to look like his old self.
Hayes, who was named the Philadelphia Flyers’ Masterton Trophy nominee earlier in the day, finished off a two-on-one by taking a slick pass from Scott Laughton and whipping a one-timer past Kevin Lankinen, getting the Flyers within 2-1 with 11:57 left in the first.
A turnover by Gustafsson put the play in motion.
It was the 10th goal of the season for Hayes, who has 22 points (7-15) in his 26 games since returning to the lineup March 5. He had been sidelined after having a procedure to fix an infection in his groin area.
Hayes had a game-high eight shots Monday.
5. The Flyers didn’t have the energy they showed Sunday.
The Flyers played on back-to-back nights — and they have several recently signed college players who may be running out of gas after longs seasons — and that didn’t work in their favor. They didn’t play with the same fire they showed in Sunday’s 4-1 win over Pittsburgh.
An indication of their lack of energy: The Flyers went without a shot in the final 12:12 of the second period.
And this: Philly had 24 hits against the Penguins, and just 14 (four in the last couple minutes) against the Blackhawks.
To their credit, the Flyers showed life late in the game. They swarmed the net after pulling Sandstrom for an extra attacker with a little over three minutes left.
The Flyers’ six-game winning streak against Chicago was snapped. … On the power play, Chicago was 0 for 5, and the Flyers were 0 for 4. … Travis Konecny collected an assist and extended his point streak to six games. … Nate Thompson won 13 of 19 faceoffs (68%). … Ivan Provorov logged a season-high 30:17. … Travis Sanheim blocked four shots. … The Flyers have two games left — Wednesday in Winnipeg, and Friday against visiting Ottawa.