Updated: Wednesday, March 7, 2018, 10:54 PM
It’s not difficult to understand how the Flyers have lost four straight. It was all there in Wednesday night’s 5-2 loss to the Penguins.
Their penchant for taking untimely, momentum-killing penalties has returned. Four in the first period alone.
Their tendency to turn the puck over at mid-ice and in their own zone has too. Pittsburgh’s third and fourth goals last night came after failed clears and missed assignments.
And their secondary scoring woes are torturous. Jordan Weal had a great chance at the side of the net. Michal Raffl had a couple. Scott Laughton had a great one in the third.
Wayne Simmonds hands are not there yet. Might not have been the best idea to have him jump back on that first power play. There were several times when he struggled to control pucks and those delays defused chances.
His line, centered by Val Filppula also was also simply overwhelmed by Sidney Crosby’s line, a gambit by Flyers coach Dave Hakstol that, with Crosby collecting three points, backfired mightily.
The Mychal Kendricks experience. If you were a hockey fan well aware of the intricacies of a hand pass, the education of Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks – attending his second-ever hockey game — was a little tough to listen to. More entertaining was his admission to Keith Jones after the first period that he didn’t quite understand why they changed personnel in hockey more than Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz subs out his defense. “But I’ll figure it out.’’
The making of a superstar. Of all the pieces that have factored into the Flyers surge from last to first, the stunning emergence of Travis Konecny to factor, star and clearly now, superstar, is the greatest. We will likely see his glue-on-the-stick second-period goal in the weeks to come, but the electric play he made to set up Claude Giroux a few minutes earlier almost single-handedly created the momentum that later produced that goal.
The Flyers have had many good players since Eric Lindros’ head troubles reduced his dominance. Few, if any, capture your attention the way Konecny’s speed and skills have over the last few months. Few of his shifts are uneventful.
NBC’s Mike Milbury criticized the first-period boarding penalty on Robert Hagg as further evidence of the “wussification of the league’’ and in a rarity, I couldn’t agree more. The check was picture perfect, the player saw it coming. It’s why head injuries and penalties need to be separated. Hagg never left his feet. Hagg never hit his head, never took that extra stride. The player, Bryan Rust, put himself in harm’s way in a way that continually has old school players – who played entire careers without helmets – shaking their heads.
The referees seemed to sense that, flagging Pittsburgh’s Phil Kessel for a very light trip of Jori Lehtera (he seemed on his way down) at the first opportunity, negating the advantage. But honestly, the bigger problem going forward is players leaning too hard on their equipment to protect themselves from reckless play.