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Flyers Takeaways: Mistakes Destroying Playoff Hopes

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Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Dahlin out-scored the Flyers 4-0 when on the ice on Friday night. (Photo: AP)

The Philadelphia Flyers couldn’t score or keep pucks out of their net once again, dropping their sixth-straight game and losing to the Buffalo Sabres, 4-2, at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo on Friday night.

Tage Thompson scored his 28th of the season to buy Buffalo an early lead, and though the Flyers tried to respond, their efforts were in vain.

On the whole, the Flyers were not sharp enough to deserve to win this game.

Flyers’ mistakes sinking playoff hopes

Marc Staal and Erik Johnson committed to the same player on Thompson’s goal, which allowed JJ Peterka to slip a backdoor pass across the ice to Thompson. Thompson, who scored 47 times for Buffalo last season, did the rest, shaking out Ivan Fedotov in tight to supply the finish for a 1-0 lead.

Fedotov, making his first NHL start, wasn’t especially sharp. Travis Konecny took a foolish cross-checking penalty to put the Flyers on a  two-minute 4-on-4 with the uber-talented Sabres, and shortly after, Rasmus Dahlin beat Fedotov cleanly, despite Fedotov being screened by Cam York, to give Buffalo a 2-1 lead.

Five minutes later, Jack Quinn’s first of two goals on the night put the Flyers in a two-goal deficit, beating Fedotov on a 3-on-2 from the high slot  to give Buffalo a 3-1 with just six seconds left in the second period.

“100%, I should be better. . . It’s my problem, not team or not whoever,” Fedotov assessed, taking responsibility for the loss.

Fedotov wasn’t particularly at fault for any of these three goals against, but he didn’t have the extra gear to keep them out of the net. With the lack of urgency the Flyers had defensively, especially on the first Quinn goal with seconds left in the period, they didn’t deserve a save.

Jamie Drysdale sharp in loss

If there was one positive the Flyers could take from this loss, it was that Drysdale was simply excellent. In just his second game back from an upper-body injury, Drysdale led the Flyers in ice time (23:41) and led all defensemen, from both teams, in shots on goal (4).

With Drysdale on the ice at 5-on-5, the Flyers out-chanced the Sabres 12-4, per Natural Stat Trick. If that wasn’t enough, high-danger chances were 6-2 in favor of the Flyers with Drysdale on the ice.

In a game like this, where the Flyers couldn’t buy a goal for any sum of money, they probably wished they could have cloned Drysdale six times.

Hopefully the 21-year-old is up for an encore against Columbus on Saturday night, otherwise the Flyers’ playoff chances are in real danger.

Flyers lack in-game adjustments

The Flyers needed goals, and virtually benching one of their most talented offensive players didn’t help. The in-game adjustments were just non-existent.

Joel Farabee played just 7:25 at 5-on-5, per Natural Stat Trick, but the Flyers out-attempted Buffalo 12-4 in those seven minutes. Oh, and the scoring chances were 8-0 in favor of the Flyers during that period. 75% of the Flyers’ shots with Farabee on the ice were scoring chances, and yet he played seven minutes at 5-on-5.

It’s becoming increasingly clear who head coach John Tortorella has an axe to grind with.

“We have to bury some of our chances, obviously. That’s the way we need to play,” Tortorella remarked, ironically. “A lot of the game I’m happy about; we just didn’t finish.”

On the other hand, Noah Cates played the second-fewest minutes at 5-on-5, just ahead of Farabee at 9:19. He scored the Flyers’ first goal of the night, ripping a beautifully placed shot past Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen from the right circle to tie the game at 1-1.

With Cates on the ice, the Flyers out-chanced Buffalo 9-1 and out-attempted them 13-4. Neither Cates nor Farabee allowed a high-danger chance against, so the in-game management was sorely lacking on Friday night.

With Washington and Detroit both losing their games, the Flyers must win on Saturday against Columbus to keep their playoff hopes afloat; no ifs, ands, or buts.

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