The Philadelphia Flyers fell to the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-0 at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday. William Nylander opened the scoring during the second period on a puck that initially looked like it was kicked into the net. He scored on the power play in the third period and narrowly missed a hat trick thanks to a great breakaway save by Carter Hart in the final minutes. Jack Campbell stopped all 36 shots the Flyers sent his way.
Flyers Struggle on the Power Play
The Flyers went 0/4 on the power play. They had a hard time gaining possession in the offensive zone on their first two opportunities. Ivan Provorov replaced Keith Yandle on the blue line on the top power-play unit last week against the Arizona Coyotes, but head coach Alain Vigneault reinserted Yandle for Philadelphia’s third and fourth opportunities on Wednesday. James van Riemsdyk also retook his spot on the top unit in place of Cam Atkinson.
Claude Giroux spoke about the power-play struggles after the game.
“When you get on the power play, sometimes it’s fine if you don’t score but you get momentum for the team. And that wasn’t the case tonight.”-Claude Giroux
The Flyers went 4/52 with the man advantage during the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2020. Their lack of pressure frequently gave momentum to their opponents, particularly the New York Islanders in the second round. They finished 18th in the NHL with the man advantage last season. They made key additions this offseason, and they will need to make adjustments moving forward if they want to improve in 2021-22. They looked more crisp with their passes after Yandle and van Riemsdyk rejoined Giroux, Sean Couturier, and Travis Konecny. The unit will likely stay together in the immediate future.
The loss against Toronto was the second time the Flyers have been shut out this season. Despite the high volume of shots, they didn’t force Campbell to make spectacular saves on high danger scoring chances too frequently. Toronto played well defensively in front of their netminder, blocking 16 attempted shots.
Related: Flyers Have Luckiest Line in the NHL
The Flyers stormed out of the gates offensively to open the season. They scored 25 goals in their first 5 games, but they’ve scored only nine goals in the six games since. Joel Farabee, Derrick Brassard, and Atkinson have cooled off from their hot start. The third line of van Riemsdyk, Scott Laughton, and Oskar Lindblom hasn’t found consistent offensive production yet. The top line still has room for growth. The Flyers will welcome Kevin Hayes back from injury for his season debut soon, at which point their forward lineup will likely shuffle considerably.
Wayne Simmonds Returns to Philadelphia
Wayne Simmonds returned to the Wells Fargo Center for the first time with the Maple Leafs and his fourth time as an opponent since being traded in 2019. In eight seasons in orange and black, he scored over 200 goals and built a reputation as a fan favorite with his style of intensity and grit. He was a strong net-front presence, a feared fighter, and a heart and soul type of player.
He finished with three hits and one shot on goal in 12:48 on Wednesday. He threw a strong check on Ristolainen behind the Flyers net early in the third period. He played 1:28 on the power play right up front of the opposing goaltender, the same position that he perfected for so long in Philadelphia.
Simmonds plays a minimized role in Toronto. Even though he isn’t the offensive force he once was, he brings veteran leadership and the type of determination any young player should emulate. He recently demonstrated his leadership by speaking up about important issues facing NHL players off the ice.
The Flyers now sit at 6-3-2 on the season. They will travel south to face the red hot Carolina Hurricanes, the Metropolitan Division leaders, on Friday night and the Dallas Stars on Saturday night. They’ll return to Philadelphia for the Alumni Hall of Fame Game on Monday night and an ensuing three-game homestand.
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.