BITTER BIRDS
Flyers Beat Canucks, Still Have a Long Way to Go
By Adele Tippett The Flyers attempted to rectify their latest record of 2-6-3 in their last 10 games on Thursday against the Vancouver Canucks. Steve Mason, who got the start in net, hoped to bounce back from a 4-1 loss against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night. Travis Konecny graced the top line alongside Claude Giroux and Michael Raffl in yet another line shake up by coach Dave Hakstol. Konecny scored on an assist from Dale Weise, 14:30 in the period on the Flyers' power play, tying the game 1-1. Brandon Manning and Michael Del Zotto both with two penalties each, totalling 12:00 alone the first period. The Flyers spent more than half of the first period short-handed. The face-offs were led by the Canucks 59% to the Flyers 41%, adding to the possession issues they couldn’t seem to shake. Daniel Sedin had the lone tally for the Canucks, scoring a top shelf goal 9:21 into the period. The Flyers have been struggling to maintain possession and finish on chances. No creativity and just an overall lack of urgency seem to plague the Flyers ever since their winning streak ended back in December. Hakstol has made some questionable line shuffles in order to compensate for the bland play the boys in orange have been putting on. Matt Read made an appearance on the first line against the Sabres, but ended up on the fourth line against the Canucks, clocking in at just 8:43 for the entire game. The second period opened with the Canucks finishing out their power play and 1:51 into the period, Markus Granlund sinks one, bringing the score 2-1. A turn of luck allowed the Flyers a power play and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare scored a beautiful top shelf goal. Just 18 seconds after Bellemare’s goal, Sean Couturier brought the score up to 3-2 Flyers. Mason has had a tough few games ever since the return of Michal Neuvirth. Any momentum the Flyers had after Couturier’s goal was instantly shot after the puck walked in through Mason’s five hole 10:01 in the second. The Canucks effectively tied the game in a little over a minute and just two minutes later, Brandon Sutter scored, pushing the Canucks up 4-3. It seemed like the second period at least showed a resurgence of the Flyers momentum and a bit of the scoring drive we grew used to. That was quickly shut down by not only Mason, but also the lackluster defense and a handful of repeat penalties. To start the third period, Neuvirth replaced Mason in net. The Flyers had the advantage of a power play and just 57 seconds into the third, Brayden Schenn scored his 14th of the season, once again tying the game 4-4. A holding penalty against the Canucks sent the Flyers into a power play with 11:10 left in the game. Ryan Miller came up with huge saves to keep the game tied, despite a strong effort from the Flyers power play units. Couturier was hit with a hooking penalty 14:01 but the Flyers did a good job of killing the penalty. With a good amount of pressure and smart plays for the remainder of the third, both teams were still tied 4-4 and forced overtime. The Flyers dominated the 3v3 overtime and a stellar save by Neuvirth kept the momentum going. A strong showing from both teams sent them into the dreaded shootout. A beautiful goal from Giroux and strong tracking from Neuvirth, the Flyers come out with the 5-4 win after coming back three times, surviving overtime and winning the shootout. The Flyers have a long way to go in terms of fixing the defense, finding our secondary scoring and having complete faith in our goalie situation. With games like last night’s, it is clear to see that the Flyers have issues to work out in order to play an entire game, as opposed to showing up for just the last period.