Quick observations from the Flyers' devastating 3-2 loss in Boston on Thursday night:
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol is not fond of playing rookie goalies.
He showed that by the way he continually bypassed Anthony Stolarz last season. And he has been reluctant to give Alex Lyon much playing time this year.
But he finally went to Lyon on Thursday, giving him his first start since Feb. 20, when he defeated Montreal, 3-2.
Lyon was sharp. His rebound control was good, he robbed Rick Nash on a point-blank chance in the second period, and he was superb as the Bruins had numerous quality opportunities in the third.
The Bruins, taking advantage of the Flyers' inability to clear the crease, won it when Brad Marchand scored after getting to a loose puck with 22 seconds left.
It was a game the Flyers played well enough to win, but they return home with their fifth straight loss.
Did Lyon (24 saves) do enough to get the start Saturday afternoon against visiting Winnipeg?
Based on Hakstol's handling of goalies, probably not. That said, Hakstol's confidence in the rookie had to grow.
Veteran Petr Mrazek started the previous seven games, but he had struggled mightily in recent games, allowing 18 goals in his last four appearances.
Rookies will have their ups and downs. You just hope they learn quickly from their mistakes.
Take Nolan Patrick, for instance.
Patrick set up the Flyers' first goal, a power-play tally by Jake Voracek, with a sensational no-look, through-the-legs pass from out front. A little less than eight minutes later, however, the center made a rookie mistake as he failed to clear the puck out of the defensive zone and it led to Brian Gionta's goal.
It should be pointed out that Patrick's growing pains have been minimal in the season's second half. He has played a key role in the Flyers' resurgence.
Coach Dave Hakstol raved the other day about how effective left winger Jordan Weal was on a line with Val Filppula and Wayne Simmonds at the end of last season. So it was surprisng that he gave that line just one game – Wednesday's 5-2 loss to Pittsburgh – before breaking it up.
Weal was a healthy scratch Thursday. Matt Read (remember him?) entered the lineup for the first time since Oct. 30.
Michael Raffl replaced Weal on the third line, and Read was placed on the fourth line and also used as a penalty killer.
The Flyers' penalty kill could use a new look because it has been dreadful for most of the season.
Read was sharp as the Flyers killed their first two penalties, and he nearly broke a 2-2 tie while the teams were playing five-on-five with about 14 minutes left in regulation. He even got some time on the top line late in the game.
The more I watch the NHL, the more I think it's a garage league because the refs are so inconsistent.
One minute a slashing penalty is called when a stick barely touches an opponent. The next minute, a player is blatantly tripped right in front of the referee but no penalty is called.
The latter situation occurred in the final minute of the first period. Simmonds was pulled down by Tommy Wingels in the Flyers offensive end, but there was no call. The Bruins' Zdeno Chara picked up the puck, fed Brian Gionta and he scored on a breakaway to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead with 26 seconds left in the first.
That doesn't excuse the on-ice defenders, Radko Gudas and Brandon Manning. But the point is, the Flyers should have had a power play in a 1-1 game. Instead, the refs changed the game's direction. Big time.
The Flyers soundly outplayed the Bruins in the first 20 minutes. Yet, they left the ice facing a 2-1 deficit.
The refs also missed an obvious holding call on Flyers winger Jori Lehtera as he grabbed Brad Marchand while the Bruins were on a second-period power play. On the same shift, Lehtera scored the second shorthanded goal of his career, knotting the score at 2-all.
Two horrible no-calls. Two goals scored because of it. Disgraceful.
In his second game back after missing seven contests because of an injury, Simmonds had a hard-luck first period.
Early in the game, Simmonds, who had some dental work done recently, took a stick to the mouth and was bleeding profusely. After returning later in the first period, his left-circle shot kissed the post. And in the period's closing seconds, he was incensed after the non-call led to Boston's go-ahead goal.