Some quick observations from the Flyers’ win at Carolina.
The Flyers got hot this season when Brian Elliott got hot. They went stone cold once he was put on ice with an undisclosed leg injury. It seemed too much to ask Elliott to return to form in his first action since Jan. 23, but he was in peak form as soon as the puck dropped Tuesday in Carolina.
Elliott made nine saves in the period, at least four that likely would have been in the back of the net in the recent games he missed. Moreover he froze pucks amid some ugly scrambles as the Flyers were flagged for three penalties, one a four-minute double minor after Nolan Patrick drew blood with another inadvertent high stick.
Carolina scored on the second leg of that power play, Teuvo Teravainen’s pass sliding through the legs of Andrew MacDonald onto the stick of Elias Lindblom, who slipped in front of Robert Hagg as if the Flyers rookie was a broken bubble-hockey player. But without Elliott’s stops on Lee Stempniak, Jordan Staal, and Victor Rask, the Flyers would have been in no position to tie this game with a late second-period surge, or win it on Jordan Weal’s goal with 3.1 seconds left in overtime, ending their four-game winless streak.
.Just seconds before, Jeff Skinner and Staal had consecutive point-blank chances denied by the Flyers goaltender.
Weal got the game-winner. But Elliott, who finished with 27 saves, won that game.
After a 10-game winless streak had the Flyers reeling in November, Elliott flipped that narrative with his stellar iron-man act in December and January.
Looks like he may have to do it again.
Welcome back, Brian.
Some random thoughts:
Andrew MacDonald looked like a Patriots cornerback Tuesday night. In the first period he literally teed up Lindholm with a blind pass from behind his own net. Elliott made another great save. In the second, another ugly turnover. His overtime flub produced another Hurricane odd-man rush. Burn that film, Mister.
Is Ivan Provorov… OK?: Remember how strong and dominant he was at the start of this season, when he was averaging over 26 minutes of playing time a game, sometimes as much as 28 minutes, always against the opponents top players? Has it worn him down? Among the league leaders in blocked shots, Provorov is still probably the Flyers best defensive defenseman, but he’s hardly been dominant and his turnovers have been glaring at times and seemingly indicative of someone either banged up, or with tired legs.
Travis Konecny is… really, really OK? Right now, he is a player you can not take your eyes off of. Whether he is “Bob Kelly-ing” his way through mid-ice, lacing a sweet pass to Claude Giroux that resulted in a third-period power play, or simply winning a muscle play along the boards and behind the net, Konecny is exhibiting all the traits that excited Flyers brass. The question now is… can the 20-year-old maintain that over the rest of this season, or through a full one?
Oh, yeah… Blocked shots aren’t all good. They can cause you to miss games with injury, as Andrew MacDonald can attest this season. And they reflect a team that spends too much time in its own zone. The Flyers blocked 15 shots in the first period alone, and had blocked twice as many shots as the Hurricanes had 50 minutes into the contest. Sure, Elliott was saved from additional heroics by his teammates taking a few bullets. But again, leading the league in that category is no indicator of success. Of the top 10 teams at the top of the NHL in that category, half are currently on the outside of the playoff picture.