With the exception of one deflection, nothing went the Flyers way in their first game of 2018 as they lost by four goals to their arch-rival Pittsburgh Penguins.
The first period was a lot of back and forth, but the Flyers managed to draw a penalty with eight seconds remaining in the first period.
The second period was slow until about 10 minutes in, when Travis Konecny got called for tripping. It was a questionable call as he was molested seconds before with no call. At any rate, Phil Kessel scored off a pretty feed from Sidney Crosby.
The Flyers answered almost immediately, Radko Gudas blasted a shot from the point that Jordan Weal deflected past Tristan Jarry. That was the extent of the Flyers scoring.
The Penguins went on to score four unanswered goals: Ryan Reaves, Conor Sheary, Tom Kuhnhackl, and Jamie Oleksiak all found twine for the Penguins. Kuhnhackl, Oleksiak, and Reaves all had one goal prior to tonight’s game.
I’ll try to bring some good with the bad here, so here’s what I noticed during Tuesday night’s ugly game:
1. The kids are all right.
Jordan Weal scored his fourth goal of the season. After bursting hot on to the scene last year he has been looking like a shell of the player I (and most of the Flyers fans/media) thought he would be. Maybe this can be a lightning rod for the young winger.
Nolan Patrick, while not scoring any points, is looking like he is adjusting to the speed of the game. He had a nice game, he looked like a rookie at times with some turnovers, but overall, he looked pretty good. He has great vision.
That was a phenomenal shift for Nolan Patrick. He was all over the ice, in a good way!
— Philly Influencer (@PHL_Influencer) January 3, 2018
Travis Konecny found himself on the top line again. He looked like he was on the same page with Claude Giroux for a good amount of the night. His play is still a little inconsistent, but I think that will benefit from spending time with the best player on the roster.
2. It might be time for a change.
I have been on record saying that firing Dave Hakstol is a bad idea right now. But after last night’s disappointing effort, those types of games are just starting to mount a little too much. That’s not just on the captain.
How is it that you can’t get your team prepared for a game against your biggest rival? A team that is only one point better than you (41-40 before tonight’s game). Your team was playing at home, you knew the crowd would bring their A-game, why was the team playing uninspired hockey? Aside from the usual suspects, the team looked flat again.
This isn’t directly related to the loss, but why were both Dale Weise and Jori Lehtera both in the starting lineup and Taylor Leier was scratched? Same goes for Travis Sanheim. Those two young guys need to play and grow. They’re the future of this team, not Lehtera, Weise, and Manning.
Lazy: “Fire the coach!”
Responsible: “Who is available that will do a better job?”
Maybe the answer was: No one. https://t.co/stGTuMe4Kw
— Mike Greenberg (@Espngreeny) January 2, 2018
Keep in mind, this tweet was about the Bengals resigning Marvin Lewis to coach after being one of the most mediocre coaches in the NFL over the past couple years, but I feel like this sentiment rings true for the Flyers as well.
I don’t know enough about the NHL as a whole to have an argument about who the Flyers could target to be a head coach if they decide to move on from Hakstol. Maybe there’s no one better out there. I maintain Hakstol can be a better coach, he has proven in the past he can get the job done. His decision making is making it hard for fans to keep holding on, and that is the growing problem.
This Flyers team has a lot of talent, they’re just wildly inconsistent. The Orange and Black return to action on Thursday against the New York Islanders. Here’s hoping they can get back in the win column.