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Flyers Takeaways: Hart shines; Power play fails against Oilers

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Philadelphia Flyers recap
Carter Hart saved the Philadelphia Flyers from an ugly blowout by the hands of the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night. (Photo: AP)

Well, that was no fun. The Philadelphia Flyers lost, 5-2, to the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night, giving them a 1-2-1 record on their West Coast trip. They’re also 1-3-2 in their last six, which might exasperate existing concerns about the team’s ongoing battle with an illness, as well as the bumps and bruises that come with a long season.

Flyers Recap

With the help of Zach Hyman, Connor McDavid opened the scoring with a shot that narrowly beat Carter Hart. Hyman would tally a goal of his own to start the second period, though Travis Konecny and Marc Staal would answer for the Flyers to tie the game at 2. An ill-advised Cam Atkinson penalty gave the Oilers a power play at the end of the second period, which allowed Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to cash in and restore the Oilers’ lead at 3-2. Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl would each pot goals in the third, putting the game to bed at 5-2. If not for Hart, the Oilers would have blown the Flyers away as early as the first period. McDavid scored his 900th NHL point on a night where he collected five points in total (1G-4A).

Goals for Carter

This might have played out differently had the Flyers capitalized on their two-goal comeback in the second, but almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Hart kept the Flyers in it for as long as possible, but the team was far too lax in their defensive coverage and along the boards. This much was evident when McDavid was allowed to throw a backhand pass from the boards to the slot for Hyman to deposit unabated.

The Flyers can’t rely on a hobbled Travis Konecny forever. No. 11, despite all his limping, bumps, and bruises, produced a goal and an assist despite playing the fourth-least amount of ice time amongst Flyers forwards. Cam Atkinson, Tyson Foerster, and Owen Tippett were the three leaders in that regard but were nonfactors in this contest. Atkinson and Foerster took terrible penalties, while Tippett added little value at either end of the ice. I get that this is the end of a long road trip, but these games decide whether you’re a playoff team.

Philly Joel

Joel Farabee, on the other hand, was very impressive on Tuesday night. Given the opportunity to play on the top line alongside Konecny and Sean Couturier, Farabee dazzled. The 23-year-old’s slick touch on a Couturier chip put Konecny through on goal for the Flyers’ first goal, and his hustle to a loose puck was the catalyst to their second goal. After a performance like this, you might question why Farabee wasn’t given a bigger opportunity earlier in the season.

That opportunity first went to Foerster, and then to Tippett more recently. Neither player had made much of an impact in the way of scoring. Farabee, meanwhile, is off to a great start in that regard. The Flyers are going to need ‘Philly Joel’ to further show them what he’s made of in the second half of the season.

The dreaded Flyers power play

Farabee plays on the power play, as do Couturier, Konecny, Tippett, Atkinson, and Foerster. I don’t know if it’s a system thing or a confidence thing, but absolutely nothing has worked for the Flyers. As I’ve said in the past, if you keep changing the power play quarterback and nothing changes, that probably suggests that that isn’t the issue.

Right now, the Flyers’ man advantage strategy seems to be to shoot the puck from range and pray. That doesn’t work against top teams, and it won’t work in the postseason either. The power play went 0-for-4 against the Oilers, and before Tuesday night’s game, they were dead-last in the NHL at 10.53%. An extra four fails against the Oilers will bring that number down further, and at this point, it’s fair to wonder whether this will be the one thing that holds the Flyers back from the postseason.

Their first chance to test that theory will be on Thursday, when they return to the Wells Fargo Center to host the Columbus Blue Jackets at 7 p.m.

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