That’s So Flyer: Controversy in Nashville

If you watched the Flyers vs. Predators game last night, you are probably still very salty about the way things turned out. If you didn’t see the game or hear the news – here is a quick summary of what happened:

  • Flyers go down 3-0 to the Predators early in the 2nd period
  • Flyers battle back to not only tie the game but ultimately take the lead 5-4
  • Dale Weise and Andrew MacDonald commit back to back penalties with 2:17 left in the game, causing 2 minutes of 5 on 3 for Nashville
  • Preds even the game up with just over a minute left
  • Dave Hakstol challenges the goal for offsides
  • He was wrong
  • Flyers are assessed an extra 2-minute Delay of Game penalty for the incorrect challenge (new NHL rule this season), putting Nashville back 5 on 3
  • Predators get the go-ahead goal with 30 seconds left
  • Flyers lose in regulation

I was pretty infuriated myself last night with the way the game ended, and instead of getting a good night’s sleep, I spent an extra hour or two post game watching Flyers Twitter blow up. Every time I refreshed my app, another lost soul was mad online about sports. And regardless of how much I wanted to join the digital riots, I couldn’t help but begin rationalizing this game into a positive note.

Brian Elliott:

One of the many frustrating points on social media last night was with the first couple of goals Brian Elliott gave up to the Predators commanding 3-0 lead. Brian Elliott has a very unconventional style in net. He’s all over the place, and can sometimes look dazed and confused when looking for the puck. But 2 of the first 3 goals in last night’s game were caused by poor defensive breakdowns. He was screened on the opening power-play goal leaving the entire left corner open. And on the Bonino goal, Claude Giroux got absolutely BURNED, essentially allowing him to have a clear path to the net. Brian Elliott stopped the original shot, but the rebound ultimately found the net.

Brian Elliott didn’t play that awful. And even if he did have some questionable positions at times, can’t we find consolation in the fact that the guys at the other end of the ice have the ability to bail our goaltender out in times of struggle (well, at least for the midgame comeback that is)? Not to mention, this is Philadelphia! Did we really expect this tandem of Elliott and Nuevirth to be the saving graces this team needed in net?

Comeback? Or 3rd Period Breakdown?:

A lot of fans were voicing their concerns over the last 2 minutes of the third period, and the complete breakdown that occurred. I chose to voice my optimism with the overall comeback that gave us a chance in the 3rd period to being with. I think I will meet in the middle on this subject matter.

Was I the only one that noticed that after we took a 5-3 lead in the 3rd period, we completely changed our game plan? I get that a more conservative approach makes sense in that kind of a situation. But when you realize that the other team also changes it’s game plan to be a complete press, you can’t just wave the white flag and hold back in your own zone. The second half of the 3rd period overall was a disgrace to the fantastic game plan we saw in the first and second periods – I hope Hakstol can adjust in the future, although I am skeptical because this was a recurring theme last season.

Andrew MacDonald and Dale Weise:

These two are the scapegoats for any bad thing to ever happen on the ice. They are the (kind of) new Chris Vandevelde and Pierre Eduoard Bellemare. Are they the least talented subjects on the roster? Yes, probably. But both of these players had fantastic overall games last night. The first 58 minutes of the game will be overlooked because of the penalties they both took giving Nashville the 5 on 3 advantage at the end. But before those mistakes were made, both of these players were doing their thing out there. Weise has grabbed some terrific chemistry with Konecny and Patrick, in fact I would say that the 3rd line was the best on the ice through the whole 60 minutes. And Andrew MacDonald had the first goal in the 2nd period comeback! He sparked the team! You cannot blame these guys for everything night in and night out. So please, stop doing so.

Dave Hakstol and The Challenge:

Within two minutes, Flyers Twitter went from the overall theme of “Look at those NUTS on Hakstol, me likey” to “Fire Dave Hakstol into the Sun”. This was the main point of irrational opinions made by Flyers fans last night. But, just like flyers fans had two opposite reactions switch in a matter of seconds last night, there are two sides to this coin…

  • From Dave’s perspective, all of the momentum was on Nashville’s side after the game tieing goal. Tired players on the ice, a burnt-out goaltender, and with just under a minute left on the power play and in the game. The original replay showing the controversial zone entry was very close to offsides. It could have been a gut reaction to just go for it, possibly in the heat of things forgetting about the new NHL rule consequences that could follow. And he wasn’t the only one on the bench reacting to the replay. The assistant coaches, as well as some of the players were all flagging down the ref to show their belief in what they thought was an offsides play.
  • From a logical perspective that took me more than the time Hakstol had to go with, you don’t do that. You don’t challenge the play risking another minute of 5 on 3. You put trust in your players and in your penalty kill to take care of business for 60 seconds at 5 on 4 and get at least a point in the standings forcing overtime. Simple as that.

I get why people are frustrated about the challenge. But I also want people to breathe today.

When you look at this opening road trip overall, this team is better than they were last season! We should be proud of what they accomplished on the road against Western Conference contending teams! We beat San Jose and Anaheim on home openers. We got stoned shut on a back to back by one of the best in the game in Los Angeles, Jonathan Quick. And we almost held a commendable comeback against the defending Western Conference Champions, also on their home opener! We faced a lot of talent and adversity in this first week and a half to start this season, and I could not be more optimistic from the overall results. Mistakes will be made, but we are only 4 games into an 82-game season. Be happy Flyers fans, this team has much more to show us.

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