Welcome back from the holidays everyone. I hope you all had a great little holiday break. Lots to talk about so here we go!
The NHL shut down earlier than planned this year. Pausing all games on December 22. All NHL team facilities were closed from Dec 22-26 as the league was trying to weather the Covid-19 outbreaks. Players returned to their facilities on Dec 26 for testing and the league resumed play on Dec 27. 50 games had been postponed leading up to the earlier break. With so many games postponed the league triggered it's opt-out clause for the 2022 Beijing Olympics. As reported on ESPN.com there was only one player in the entire league not vaccinated. Detroit forward Tyler Bertuzzi. The NHL reintroduced stricter protocols for players including daily testing (instead of every 3 days) and they brought back the taxi squads in order to provide clubs with readily available players who can be recalled to the NHL in order to minimize the chances clubs play shorthanded or have to postpone. Let's talk about the last few games now.
Dec 29. 3-2 OT win vs the Kraken. Flyers first visit out to the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle. The Flyers let the Kraken stay in the game a lot longer than they should have. James van Riemsdyk scored twice, Martin Joens made 34 saves and Kevin Hayes hit a long stretch pass to Ivan Provorov for the game winner in OT. It was as pretty a goal as we've seen all year. Claude Giroux notched his 600th assist on JVR's first goal of the night on the power play. Giroux finished with 2 assists, his first was his 884th point pushing him past Bill Barber into 2nd all time scoring in the history of the franchise. Bobby Clarke leads the franchise with 1210 points. The western string started off on a high note. That would not last long at all.
Dec 30 3-2 OT loss vs San Jose. Felix Sandstrom started in net for the Flyers making his NHL debut as Sean Couturier and Carter Hart joined the Flyers covid list. Prior to the game Couturier was placed in injured reserved and is considered week to week. Joel Farabee and Morgan Frost scored for the Flyers but it was a shorthanded goal by Logan Couture that seemed to change the game and swing it in the Sharks favor. Sandstrom played great and Keith Yandle again showed his defensive liability. He's been on the ice for all 5 shorthanded goals the Flyers have given up.
Jan 1 loss vs Kings. The season best point streak came to an end at 7 games with a brutal loss to the Kings on New Years Day. It was the first loss in regulation for the Flyers since December 8th. Prior to this game the Flyers hadn't allowed more than 3 goals in a game since Dec 6th when interim coach Mike Yeo took over. Martin Jones started for the Flyers but the story was Jonathan Quick who improved to 11-3-1 lifetime against the Flyers. Farabee, Hayes and Provorov scored for the Flyers and Claude Giroux notched another 2 assists. Cam Atkinson picked up 3 assists in the game. Carter Hart, Scott Laughton and Derick Brassard all exited the NHL's Covid protocol and would join the team in Anaheim
Jan 4 loss vs Ducks Any positives from the Kings game, and there were not many, were totally erased in the Anaheim game. The Flyers lost Claude Giroux and Ivan Provorov now to the Covid protocol. Cam York made his debut this season up from the taxi squad and made a huge case to stay with the team. Cam got to debut in his home town, on the eve of his 21st birthday. The Flyers lone goal was scored by Cam Atkinson and while Cam York didn't factor into the scoring he looked every bit the NHL player on the ice. There really isn't much positive to say about this game.
I'm going to wrap this up with this. Ryan Ellis (remember him?) He's not making much progress and at this point that trade doesn't look good for this season at all. Cam York deserves to be on this team the rest of the season. We still don't know what we have and going into the Pittsburgh game tonight the team is missing Giroux, Provorv, Konecny (He was invisible mostly anyway) and Sanheim all are on the Covid list. Ryan Ellis is out for an extended time as is Couturier. This weekend we'll get into some thoughts on what comes next.