Morning Observations is a feature where we break down the previous night’s game with an analytical eye.
The raw shot metrics may look favorably upon the Flyers’ play last night (52.85% score-adjusted Corsi), but in this one, not all shots were created equal. It was clear on almost every shift that Philadelphia was forced to muck-and-grind their way for every chance, while Edmonton was almost effortlessly generating shots in front of the net or on dangerous speed rushes. Having Connor McDavid helps, to be sure, but it wasn’t just the league’s newest superstar who was racking up chances. Players like Leon Draisaitl and Jordan Eberle also operating on a level far beyond anything the Flyers could muster on this night. There’s a reason why Edmonton led in high-danger chances 14-9 despite Philadelphia having in edge in overall shot volume (66-51 in all-situation attempts), and it wasn’t just bad luck that allowed the Oilers to rack up six goals to the Flyers’ three. Edmonton just executed on far more high-difficulty plays.
#2: How much more of this can the team take?
Throughout this recent slump, there have only been rare occasions (the third period of the Washington loss, and the stretch following Gudas and his “penalty” against the Devils) where the Flyers seemed to let up in terms of effort. The results obviously haven’t been there over the past month, but you can see that the team is still backchecking furiously and desperately trying to win puck battles in the offensive zone. That’s why the shot totals remain strong, and a big reason why (prior to last night) the defense had tightened up their goal suppression. However, I’m starting to wonder if this team has a breaking point.
There’s only so many games that you can lose in tedious fashion while technically outshooting your opponent before you begin questioning the validity of the directives sent your way. That’s not a character issue â?? it’s human nature. I’ve mentioned on multiple occasions that the team’s shooting percentage was due for some degree of positive regression, but if it all comes in games like this when six goals are allowed, that regression won’t matter in the standings at all. This is a pivotal point in the tenure of Dave Hakstol, in terms of how he is viewed by the team. The awful run has gone on long enough to convince many fans that this is the new normal for Philadelphia â?? I just wonder what the players are thinking.
#3: Playoffs looking like a pipe dream at this point
Due to this recent swoon, Philadelphia now sits sixth in the Metropolitan Division and fourth in the wild card race in the Eastern Conference, with the Florida Panthers nipping at their heels. The result has been a collapse in the team’s playoff odds, with Moneypuck.com and Dom Luszczyszyn of THN both dropping the Flyers to around the 10% mark, easily out of legitimate contention. That’s not to say that the team can’t rebound with a strong closing kick, as they did so last season and found a way to sneak into the postseason. But the odds are certainly against them, and it shouldn’t be viewed …
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