PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Flyers spoiled Ivan Provorov’s return to the Wells Fargo Center, defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets, 5-2. Head coach John Tortorella, who typically elects to keep winning lineups intact, swapped Morgan Frost for Bobby Brink on Sunday. The latter scored one of the Flyers’ five goals – and it was on the embattled power play. Brink, like several other Flyers, struggled with penalties, but Philadelphia pulled through with another gutsy effort.
But, it wasn’t like the last few wins.
Through two periods, the Flyers only blocked seven shots. They finished the game with 18, though this was largely due to the Blue Jackets’ late push to try and even the score.
Instead, it was Brink’s power play goal – which gave the Flyers their third in two nights – and Ryan Poehling’s short-handed goal that set the tone for the rest of the night. Travis Konecny and Cam York scored the fourth and fifth goals of the game to put the icing on the cake.
Poehling’s three-point night was his first such game since scoring a hat trick in his NHL debut – 1,688 days ago.
“You just gotta stay ready, you never know when the opportunity’s gonna come,” Poehling said of his recent promotion. “It’s been great so far. Not just me, but the team’s been playing really good hockey over the last five-six games”.
— Flyers Nation (@FlyersNation) November 19, 2023
Indeed, the Philadelphia Flyers are now winners of five straight for the first time since the 2019-20 season, and it comes at the expense of Provorov.
“He signs a one-year deal. I like that. He’s betting on himself,” Tortorella said of Poehling. “I didn’t even see him play [before]. One of our top faceoff guys tonight again, wins a key one at the end with a [empty-net] goal. He’s been scratched as we’ve moved people around, and he goes about his business”.
The game was closer than the scoreboard suggests, but that alone is the proof of concept for Tortorella and the Flyers’ process.
Philadelphia Flyers Report Card
If not for more penalty trouble, it’s possible the Flyers could have buried the Blue Jackets where they stood on Sunday. Poehling’s short-handed goal ended up being the difference in this one, as Columbus stumbled to go 0-for-5 with the man advantage.
Owen Tippett again could have had a war chest of goals, but Spencer Martin emphatically stopped Tippett’s power play one-timer from the bumper. No. 74 would later come close again at the far post, but his effort rang the iron.
Tyson Foerster, who had an impressive outing and scored his first goal of the year Saturday, also came up empty-handed on a breakaway. He knifed the rebound through the crease towards Cam Atkinson, but the puck just eluded Atkinson to his left.
“I think after the game we had yesterday against a good team, getting the win there gave us lots of energy,” Sam Ersson said. “We’re a team in very good shape. I think we handled the back-to-back very good”.
Ersson stopped 20 of 22 shots – good for a .909 save percentage. The 24-year-old stopped pretty much everything he saw, which is about as much as you can ask for.
Power Play: B
So, the Flyers’ power play still isn’t great. They went 1-for-4 against the Blue Jackets, but they did score a goal – and an important one at that.
The Philadelphia Flyers also potted two on Saturday against the Vegas Golden Knights, and although it hasn’t all been sunshine and flowers, it’s hard to argue against the timeliness of those goals.
— Flyers Nation (@FlyersNation) November 19, 2023
“I worked a lot with Angelo [Ricci] on power play stuff, and then getting in the weight room a lot,” Brink said. “I knew that I was gonna have a lane there, and we’ve kinda talked about shooting and the front-of-the-net guy setting a good screen. Beezer did that, and when he sets a screen like that you just gotta put it in the spot and it ended up going in”.
Tippett’s power play goal Saturday snapped an 0-for-26 streak on the power play, and it seems that, for the most part, the Flyers are gaining confidence and momentum there.
Ryan Poehling: A+
Patrik Laine was a scratch for the Blue Jackets, but anytime you cede five power plays to an NHL team, you’re asking for trouble.
Fortunately, it was Poehling and Garnet Hathaway (Nic Deslauriers, we see you) causing the trouble on a 2-on-0 to score a short-handed goal. Watching Poehling, it’s hard to imagine that the 24-year-old is on his third team in as many years, and hasn’t been used as anything more than a penalty-killing fourth-line centerman.
“The thing that sticks out to me with him is, he can skate. He’s long, he can skate; I talked to his prior coach, got some information on him there,” Tortorella revealed. “I just wanted to see him up in the lineup and see if he’s gonna sink or swim there”.
“What he’s getting, the ice time he’s getting and some of the situations he’s been put in he deserves”.
With Frost out and Brink back to scoring, it’s hard to imagine a world where Poehling would ever get scratched again playing like this. If Tortorella and co. can get something out of the former first-round pick, it’s going to be a revelation for this Philadelphia Flyers team as time goes on. It may not seem like it, but Poehling is still young at the ripe age of 24.
The former Pittsburgh Penguins center will get to further prove his value on Wednesday, Nov. 22 against the New York Islanders.