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Flyers Takeaways: Gas tanks are emptied vs Kraken

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Philadelphia Flyers recap
Midway through the second period, the Philadelphia Flyers ran out of gas, and ultimately lost to the Seattle Kraken. (Photo: AP)

With Friday’s game going to overtime, we’re switching gears a little bit and going to… Philadelphia Flyers takeaways! It’s quite late at night, but even head coach John Tortorella isn’t feeling grumpy, even after losing his 1,500th career game. The Seattle Kraken managed to come back from a one-goal deficit to defeat the Flyers, 2-1 in overtime.

“You ask me if we get three [points] out of four to start this trip, I’d be jumping up and down,” Tortorella quipped after the game.

So, yeah. It was one of those nights for the Flyers, who played their second Flyers After Dark session in as many days. The Flyers game against the Vancouver Canucks looked easy towards the end, and then on Friday night against the Kraken, they flatlined about halfway through. Such is life in the NHL.

Flyers need change on the fourth line

If we were giving out Flyers grades tonight, the fourth line would get an F+. The plus is for the effort, and the F is for fail. On a night where even the smallest details could’ve made the difference, this line was capital B Bad. Nick Deslauriers, Scott Laughton, and Garnet Hathaway were out-shot 14-3 in 7:40 together at 5-on-5.

Even worse, they had an expected goals for percentage of 0.59, per Natural Stat Trick. That’s not 59%, or 5.9% – that is barely half of 1%. Lastly, they allowed nine scoring chances against, and created zero. In short, the Flyers might as well have been down three players rather than to send this line out.

Noah Cates is on the mend, and Ryan Poehling has excelled in this role in the past. Deslauriers doesn’t contribute at all on special teams, so if this trend happens to continue, he could be the first one on the chopping block in order to reinstate Cates into the lineup. The Flyers aren’t going to win many hockey games with this level of play.

Carter Hart is still good

The Flyers’ December hero, Sam Ersson, aka Samta Claus (I made that up), unfortunately had to exit early from the game against the Canucks on Thursday night due to dehydration. Carter Hart came in and locked down the fort, securing a Flyers win. Hart was working on a shutout with 14 minutes to go in the third period, before Vince Dunn’s power play blast hit Nick Seeler’s glove, changed direction, and dribbled past Hart for a Kraken goal.

In overtime, Rasmus Ristolainen and Tyson Foerster blew their coverages, leaving Hart one-on-one with Justin Schultz whilst sliding to meet him at the post. It took a fluke and a missed assignment to beat Hart on Friday night, but the rest of the Flyers failed to supply the 25-year-old with hardly any offensive support.

It’s not the end of the world, and especially not on a West Coast back-to-back immediately after the holiday break. However, this is the time of the year that separates the real from the fake. Philadelphia must stay consistent in order to make their own fate later on. There’s more hockey to be played, and now the attention turns to Calgary on New Year’s Eve on the heels of a nine-game point streak.

Top Line Tipp is legit

Whatever prompted Owen Tippett‘s promotion to the top line, it’s been beneficial to the Flyers. Tippett has historically been a streaky scorer for this team, but he’s been excellent in the month of December. The 24-year-old has not gone more than two games without a goal or an assist this month. Although the pucks haven’t all gone in, Tippett has ripped off five or more shots in four of his last five games.

This is the player Tippett is: an offense-driving volume shooter with a boatload of speed and a decent amount of physicality. The former Florida Panther is currently sitting at 12 goals on a 9.7% shooting percentage. Last year, he scored 27 at an 11.7% clip. The caveat is that this season, Tippett is averaging 15:19 of ice time, compared to last year’s 17:25. He’s played no fewer than 16 minutes in each of his last four games.

I wonder if, with a bit of luck, and the increased ice time, Tippett can score 30 goals by the end of the season. If nothing else, Tippett has earned this cameo, and I would like to see him get some more run as the playoffs draw nearer.

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