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Flyers Takeaways: Collapse Against Capitals Stalls Playoff Aspirations



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(Photo: AP)

Despite leading 2-0 after the first period, the Philadelphia Flyers collapsed against the Washington Capitals, losing 5-2 at the Capital One Arena on Friday night.

Bobby Brink and Owen Tippett scored goals in the first period to put the Flyers up 2-0, and both were assisted by Morgan Frost, who had his second straight game with a pair of apples. Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there despite the Flyers being up two goals and out-shooting their opponents 11-5.

NHL trade targets crumble

It was a rough night for most Flyers defensemen, but the performances of Nick Seeler and Sean Walker just weren’t good enough on Friday night. In all situations, per Natural Stat Trick, the pair was out-scored 2-0, out-chanced 9-5, and allowed five high-danger chances.

Walker also took two silly penalties; one of which allowed the Capitals to go up 4-2 almost immediately.

They were also on the ice for Washington’s third goal – the one that allowed them to take a 3-2 lead that they would never lose hold of. Seeler, Walker, Ryan Poehling, and Olle Lycksell all collapsed to one side of the net, and John Carlson wrapped around to score on the other side of the net.

Seeler and Walker are usually quite steady and productive for the Flyers, but on Friday night, they were unpredictable, sloppy, and chaotic. They allowed two momentum-changing goals that wrested control of the game from the Flyers once and for all.

In fairness, Brink could have changed off the ice and instead was too slow to react on the third goal, causing him and Lycksell to be benched for the rest of the game. The two young Flyers probably deserved a better fate, ultimately.

And, who knew that, when down a goal away from home, the best plan is to bench your two young forwards with the freshest legs?

Flyers have a double standard going

Speaking of benchings, it’s still difficult for me to wrap my head around Brink and Lycksell getting benched in this one. Especially Brink.

Brink scored the Flyers’ first goal for the second game in a row, putting his team in strong positions to win meaningful games. Then he got caught on the ice for that Carlson goal, and his night was over.

“Not after that stupidity. He and Lycks weren’t seeing the ice again,” John Tortorella said after the game.

When Joel Farabee hasn’t scored in 14 games, Sean Couturier is getting his minutes cut nearly in half, and Nick Deslauriers is playing six minutes, the best option is to cut your bench down two players – one of which had scored two games in a row.

And, when the Flyers go down one goal and proceed to continue their dire defensive performance for the rest of the game, losing 5-2, what kind of message does that send? The team knows which players are hot and which ones aren’t, and they know they needed goals to get back into the game. Instead, the Flyers fell flat on their faces in a sixth-consecutive loss to Metropolitan Division opponents.

Couturier situation is a problem

Anecdotally, it appears the Flyers are reversing the roles of Poehling and Couturier. Poehling played 18:59 against Washington, and Couturier scrapped together 14:39. And, somehow, Poehling managed to record zero shots on goal during that time.

In short, the jump up for Poehling is one that is simply too great.

The 25-year-old was on the ice for three goals against, was out-chanced 11-5, and gave up six high-danger chances while producing only two. Poehling’s linemate, Noah Cates, also failed to record a shot on goal against Washington. That third line, which had proved rugged and reliable, was totally anemic in the 5-2 loss.

Couturier hasn’t taken too well to this new role, either. He was on the ice for two goals against, was out-chanced 8-3, and allowed three high-danger chances while producing zero. He did have a nice between-the-legs pass on the power play to create a chance, but the Caps broke that up and cleared the puck. That was about it for the captain in what was otherwise a nondescript performance.

Side note: Tyson Foerster had scored in three games in a row prior to this game. When he was on the ice against the Caps, the Flyers out-shot their opponents 24-13. Foerster also played 3:27 on the power play, and 20:26 in total, but failed to record a single shot on goal. How is that possible?

Perhaps the Flyers will have a more concise game plan for the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night.

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