The Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Seattle Kraken 3-2 in overtime on Wednesday night in their first game since Dec. 18. The Kraken dominated the pace of play for the majority of the game but couldn’t capitalize on key chances against backup goaltender Martin Jones. Despite a rusty effort after the extended holiday layoff, the Flyers improved to 5-0-1 in their last six games. James van Riemsdyk scored twice, and Ivan Provorov sealed the win during the 3-on-3 overtime period. Philadelphia improved to 7-1-1 when tied at the second intermission.
Claude Giroux- Franchise Legend
Claude Giroux assisted the first Flyers goal on the power play during the first period and passed Bill Barber for second place in franchise history with 884 points. He displayed the great hands and patience that have made him the top power-play scorer in the NHL over the past 12 seasons.
The long-time captain leads the team with 26 points in 30 games this season, but the collective scoring depth behind him hasn’t performed at a capable level. Charlie O’Connor of The Athletic recently summarized the organization’s overreliance on Giroux because of their inability to develop top-tier NHL talent to replace him.
“If the rebuild would’ve went the way they wanted it to go, he (Giroux) wouldn’t be the best player on the team anymore.”-Charlie O’Connor
Giroux has spent the entirety of professional career in Philadelphia since being drafted in 2006, but the organization has consistently failed to surround him with suitable talent to compete for a Stanley Cup over the past decade. He is playing at age 33 in the final year of his current contract. The Flyers will face several tough decisions in the upcoming months that will decide their long-term direction as an organization. Giroux’s future with the team will be a popular topic of conversation during that time span.
Martin Jones’ Solid Effort
Jones stopped 34 of 36 shots in the victory. He improved to 6-4-1 as a starter in 2021-22, and he played as well as the Flyers could’ve reasonably expected their backup to play. The Kraken controlled the flow of the game for long stretches of regulation. The Flyers went from the 3:28 mark of the first period until the 8:42 mark of the second period without a shot on goal, but Jones kept the score tied. Mike Yeo helped his goaltender by converting his second successful challenge during his eight-game tenure as interim head coach and took a Seattle goal off the board during the third period with the score tied 1-1.
The Flyers will face the San Jose Sharks, Jones’ former team, on Thursday night. Carter Hart is currently in COVID-19 protocol, and backup Felix Sandstrom has never started an NHL game. Yeo has not officially announced a starting goaltender.
Flyers Earn Two Points
The Flyers did not come out of the break with any momentum. They struggled to stay in the game during the first two periods. Natural Stat Trick tracked the Kraken with 1.23 expected goals for (xGF) at 5-on-5 through the second intermission, while the Flyers managed just .3 xGF. Provorov and van Riemsdyk have both struggled throughout the 2021-22 season, and they didn’t play their best overall games on Wednesday night.
However, the long periods without offensive pressure didn’t ultimately hurt them. Two excellent shots by van Riemsdyk covered up his lackluster effort in puck battles, and Provorov scored a game-winner that could prove to be a confidence booster for a player who has not played up to high standards over the past two months. The Flyers collected two points in a road victory against their former head coach Dave Hakstol. For a team buried in the Metropolitan Division by a 10-game losing streak early in the season, they will look for points in whatever way they come.
Colin Newby is a freelance journalist from Delaware County, PA covering the Philadelphia Flyers for The Hockey Writers. He is an encyclopedia of useless sports knowledge with an uncanny ability to rattle off Flyers goaltending stats from 2004 and every Stanley Cup winner during his lifetime. The depths of his knowledge stem from spending his entire life following the Flyers and the NHL, from fan favorites like the Legion of Doom and Claude Giroux to no-namers like Andy Delmore and Branko Radivojevič. Colin also writes fictional sports stories and covers the Philadelphia Eagles.