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Buffalo 5, Philadelphia 2: Flyers Fall to Sabres Thanks to Poor Special Teams

Looking to rebound from their Opening Day loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Philadelphia Flyers came into Buffalo tired and left winless. Thanks to a big game from Thomas Vanek, the Flyers (0-2-0) fell 5-2.

Vanek crowds the crease (via SBNation).

In the first period, the Flyers once again looked sloppy and sluggish, continuing their struggles on the power-play from the previous game (where they went 0-for-5). Team leaders Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, and Kimmo Timonen were all non-factors in the first. The Sabres’ (1-0-0) first goal, scored by Steve Ott (1) at the 11-minute mark, was a power-play goal and the only reason he created space for himself in the high slot was because the Flyers players collapsed below the face-off circles. Special teams will be a major question for the Flyers moving forward.

A goal by new Flyer Ruslan Fedotenko was waved off as well on a soft call by the referee. He shot the puck onto Ryan Miller’s shoulder, and Miller fell into the goal with the puck crossing the line. But the referees then called goalie interference on Fedotenko despite it being a very questionable “hit” on Miller.

In the second, the Flyers really stepped up their game, and started playing the hockey the fans have been looking for. Their forecheck was fast and hard and their puck movement was on point. Goals by Sean Couturier (1) and Glaude Giroux (2) catapulted them into the lead, 2-1. On yet another penalty kill, the Flyers give up a goal on a terrible line change and miscommunication from the Flyers’ forwards. Buffalo star Thomas Vanek capitalized and juked out Ilya Bryzgalov on a 1-on-1 to tie things up.

In the third, fatigue set in for the Flyers. Playing back to back games after only six days of training camp, that was bound to happen. After coming up short on multiple opportunities in the second, Buffalo nailed the game home with three unanswered goals from Tyler Myers (1), Cody Hodgson (1), and Vanek (2).  The game ended 5-2 in favor of Buffalo.

For now, the Flyers do not have the speed needed for their system. Laviolette has always encouraged dump and chase hockey, but right now the Flyers don’t have the speed, stamina or determination to win those dump and chase puck battles. The Flyers may need to modify their system until they get back to the tempo they played at last season.

On a whole, no need to worry about the Flyers; Bryzgalov is playing well, and they can only get better with time. The addition of Danny Briere back into the lineup will also help them improve their consistency on the forecheck.

Note: Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo was injured early in the game, but it was a minor cut and he will likely miss limited time if any.

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Categories: Beat Writing, Flyers

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