Takeaways from Friday’s Flyers-Golden Knights game

After 10 matches, Flyers finally returned to the winning column. The losing streak is over.

No, the Flyers didn’t snap and suddenly became a force to be reckoned with. There are many things in their process in this game that leave a lot to be desired. But as we’ve done with so many wins this season, the Flyers can look to their keeper and thank him for being the catalyst that ended this streak.

Entering this game, there is another question of effort and pride. There have been struggles in almost every aspect of the game. Perhaps one of those areas has grown in a positive direction.

Here are five lessons learned from Friday’s Flyers wins Vegas Golden Knights.

1. Hart Stopping

The win over this 10-game losing streak is the Flyers’ ninth win of the season. It’s also Friday for Carter Hart, and like many things has happened before, he was the main reason the Flyers walked away with two points.

Hart is simply sensational. The goals he allowed in the game – all in the final two minutes of this period – were virtually unstoppable, notably the one for William Karlsson and the recovery of the open network for Max Pacioretty. While Hart may have wanted the initial shot that led to the rebound, he played brilliantly.

At the beginning of the match, Hart had to be at his best when he was defeated by the Golden Knights. Early in the second, Vegas took control of the game again. In the third half, there were many opportunities, 15 in total, including five high-risk scoring opportunities according to the Natural Stat Trick, for Vegas to equalize or take a two-goal lead.

If there’s one player on the team who shouldn’t have any questions about his future, it’s Hart. He answered the bell repeatedly, doing what he could to keep his team in the game. Sure, Sunday’s start against Tampa Bay was bad, but his overall performance has been steady throughout the season.

2. Where there is a Willman…

What a story Max Willman Yes. His journey through the minor divisions has led him to the NHL this season, making his NHL debut in the opening game of the season.

Willman has gone back and forth between the AHL and NHL this season, and even on and off the roster when it comes to NHL levels. He’s back in the lineup for Derick Brassard, out with an injury, and Mike Yeo want to give him a chance with players like Kevin Hayes and James van Riemsdyk.

But Willman was actually on the ice with Patrick Brown and Zack MacEwen the beginning of the second period, because the Flyers had to adjust to the Sean Couturier in the dressing room, stitched up for a cut to his wrist from skating. In a changeover with those two, Willman scored his first NHL goal, picked up a loose ball in the right circle, and shot it home. His celebration said it all.

3. Special Delivery

If you’re about to end a long losing streak like this, you have to take the opportunity. The Flyers were awarded two of them in the third inning. They cashed out on both.

Early in the first half, the Flyers had a power play that lasted all five seconds before van Riemsdyk’s penalty nullified the man advantage. In the second and third power plays, the Flyers scored both times, first timed by Couturier from the right circle, then received a friendly hit to the bottom table and a beautiful setup by way Travis Konecny for van Riemsdyk to score.

Regarding the Couturier goal, some Flyers history has been made. Claude Giroux had a minor assist, the 334th point of his career. That makes him the all-time franchise leader in terms of power play point, overtaking Bobby Clarke.

In addition, van Riemsdyk’s vote count comes just as it is almost halfway through and provides some much-needed coverage.

Even the Flyers’ penalty shot ended their job. The Flyers killed off the brief five-second power play that the Golden Knights got on the first, followed by the next four full penalties. Vegas scored a powerhouse goal in the final two minutes of the third inning with a 6-on-4 strike, but the Flyers continued their journey as there were many moments when Vegas could get back into the game.

4. Hold the fortress

It’s not just the murder penalty that did the job. It’s not just Carter Hart making saves. There are also some important blocked shots.

The Flyers finished the game with a total of 20, but it was a shot blocked by Rasmus Ristolainen that could actually qualify as a savings which could very well be the difference.

Even with blocked shots, penalties and Hart’s performance, the Flyers managed to win a match that was not exactly the kind of game they needed to break out of the series. Remember that not long ago in this streak it was said there would be a 1-0 or 2-1 game for the Flyers to break this. They scored four goals, conceded three and brought home the two points they were looking for. It’s not pretty, but it can still provide some shine for another bad week so far.

“When you’re going through something like we’ve been through, I think the hardest thing is dealing with the emotions,” Yeo said. “You look at tonight, I think we had a great start, we dropped a goal at the end of the period, we could come back, re-establish the lead, and then you’re back from give up another goal right at the end of the period. We know it’s not going to be perfect, especially against a team of this caliber, but our boys put in a lot of effort tonight.”

5. Go to Arizona

So what’s next for the Flyers? Well, there was little time to rejoice with their first win in 11 games. They had another party on Saturday night in Arizona.

The crux here is that this kicks off a series of matches with teams falling in the rankings much closer to where the Flyers are. Arizona is the last standing team of the NHL. They have appointments with Montreal, ranked 31st in the league, and Ottawa, ranked 30th in the league, on next week’s leaderboards. New Jersey is also on the schedule again, and they aren’t far out in 23rd place.

The Flyers have dug a pretty big hole, so it makes sense to have looked at the season and feel like there’s no hope of change. But we’ve seen this in action before, and the Flyers are certainly not mathematically dismissed. That didn’t happen in December. The key for them is that these games are really all must-wins. The team can’t focus on turning things around and trying to get through the knockouts and stuff of that nature and let people really believe there’s going to be a case where there’s no long winning streak.

Saturday gives the Flyers a chance to win head-to-head games for only the third time this season and the first since October 27 and 28 or the five-game streak doesn’t mean as much. The important thing here for those in the dressing room is to find a way to string the results together in another way, especially when the losing streak is over. They are in their hands to try to tune the ship and avoid letting the season pass before Christmas arrives.

Kevin Durso is a Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

Philadelphia Flyers uniforms through the years Takeaways from Friday’s Flyers-Golden Knights game


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