Better With Popcorn

Flyers needed more backbone in their backcheck

When a 4-1 final flashes on the stadium screen, it’s evident that something went dastardly wrong for one team.

Last night, that troubled squad was the Philadelphia Flyers.

In recent weeks, the goaltending and defense have come under a great deal of scrutiny. At first glance, it appears as though that was again the case on Thursday night.

However, the Flyers inability to gain two points wasn’t the fault of their goalie or their defense.

Focused primarily in the offensive zone, the team failed to adequately backcheck and as a result allowed the Islanders to generate offensive attacks in transition. Considering that they failed to score more than one goal, their lack of concentration on defending their own zone was ultimately the team's downfall.

Sergei Bobrovsky played a phenomenal game.

“He was our best player on the ice tonight,” Matt Read said. “It’s unfortunate that we didn’t play a better game for him, and hopefully next time he plays we’re a lot better.”

Had he not played as well as he did, the score could (and most likely would) have been a lot worse.

“If it wasn’t for Bob tonight, this game wasn’t going to be close and it’s frustrating to see that,” Claude Giroux said. “We’ll have to work on it.”

Bobrovsky had to face five breakaways, four of which he turned away successfully prior to Josh Bailey scoring on the final one.

In fact, the other four breakaways came from two of the team’s top-three goal scorers, John Tavares and Michael Grabner.

He even shut down Tavares -- the Islanders' best player all night -- on three separate occasions.

“Just in the second alone, I think we gave away four breakaways or something ridiculous like that,” Daniel Briere said. “I don’t know if we have given up as many breakaways before in the whole season as many as in this game.”

On the Islanders first goal, the Flyers had four players set-up in a box formation while Tavares attacked the zone.

With Timonen and Coburn picking up their assignments, Giroux and Jaromir Jagr skated to opposite sides of the net despite Matt Moulson (the Islanders leading goal scorer) entering the slot unguarded.

Ultimately, the wide-open Moulson was able to get off a clean shot and beat Bobrovsky.

On the second goal, Bailey’s shorthanded breakaway, the Flyers tried to force too many passes and Timonen was caught with the puck at the point.

The team, which at the time had four forwards on the ice, had no chance of catching Bailey who easily chased down a loose puck at center ice.

“We were a little too casual and whenever one of our point men were under stress, there was nobody there to back them up,” Briere said.

The team was shortsighted and failed to protect their own zone all night long.

“We left one guy vulnerable,” Peter Laviolette said. “We see that players are in trouble and guys hang in to the offensive side of things.”

While the 4-1 final makes it easy to say that the goalie or the defense didn’t show up, the true downfall of the Flyers on Thursday night was the team’s inability to transition from zone to zone.

“Just complacency,” Read said. “[…] units thinking offensive [...] making soft plays.”


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squire's picture

well done as always!