“Anytime. Anywhere.’’ is the Flyers’ mantra this season.
It could also belong to the Boston Bruins when they play the Flyers, at least in the third period.
For the third time in four meetings this season, the Bruins overcame a Flyers’ third-period lead on Friday night and skated away with a 2-1 win at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers, now 0-2-2 in four games against Boston this season, took a 1-0 lead early in the third period on a power-play goal by James van Riemsdyk.
But the Bruins, as is their wont, nearly duplicated their three-goal rally from Wednesday night’s 4-3 overtime win by scoring twice 27 seconds apart with barely eight minutes to play.
Talk about frustrating. The Flyers (7-3-2) were still shaking their heads when several of them took part in post-game interviews during media Zoom calls.
The Bruins got a grinder goal from Brad Marchand with 8:01 to play, then Sean Kuraly beat goaltender Brian Elliott from the top of the left circle. Almost in the blink of an eye, another loss was in the making.
Same old questions, same old answers. The Flyers blanked one of the best teams in hockey for 52 minutes, then let it get away just like that.
“These last two games, we played them a lot better than we did in Boston,’’ van Riemsdyk said. “We just have to do a better job of closing games out. Having a lead in the third period, we have to find a way to make those (wins) a little more automatic.’’
Coach Alain Vigneault continues to give credit to Boston but at some point his team has to find a way to overcome these late meltdowns.
“Tonight’s scenario was different than the last game,’’ he said. “You have to give the opposition credit. I like the way we played, I liked the way we competed. I just don’t like the final result.’’
Elliott agrees the Flyers have to be better late in games.
“It’s frustrating,’’ he said. “You got from pitching a perfect game to losing in less than a minute. That’s a win we should have come up with.’’
At his media interview before the morning skate, Vigneault said there would be no lineup changes. At game time, defenseman Phil Myers was nowhere to be found. The team issued a statement that Myers suffered an upper-body injury, leading to speculation he may have reinjured the rib cartilage problem which cost him several games.
Also, Carter Hart left the morning skate early and no word on his status was released until game time. He is suffering from back spasms (he wasn’t scheduled to start the Boston game) and is listed as day-to-day.
Finally, Oskar Lindblom took a hit in the offensive zone late in the game, came off and looked groggy on the bench. Vigneault said he had not been updated on Lindblom’s status immediately after the game.
>Power play sputtering
Although van Riemsdyk did manage to tip in an Erik Gustafsson shot for the Flyers’ only goal, the power play remains inconsistent. In this game it went one for five but had the man advantage for a whopping eight minutes and five seconds, including a brief 25-second five-on-three advantage late in the first period.
Aside from van Riemsdyk, the Flyers really haven’t done a lot of late. The stats say they’re 10th in the league at 23.7 percent but numbers like this are sometimes misleading. Vigneault did shake things up a bit by having Gustafsson replace Ivan Provorov on the point for the first unit but the Flyers need more from players like Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek and Kevin Hayes when they have the manpower edge.
>Historically, penalty shots not Flyers’ strong suit
The Flyers’ Joel Farabee was awarded a penalty shot at 16:25 of the second period when he was hauled down by Boston’s Jakub Ziboril. Predictably, Farabee was stopped by goaltender Tuukka Rask.
In their history, the Flyers have taken 66 penalty shots and scored on only 22 of them. As former coach Mike Keenan once said, if teams had the option of a penalty shot or a regular two-minute penalty, he might take the latter.
>Can Provorov keep this minutes pace up?
Provorv played 26:48 on Friday night, nearly four minutes more than any other Flyer.
Currently, the Russian defenseman stands fourth in the NHL in minutes played.
The question is, how long can Provorov keep up this workload? While he says he doesn’t mind playing a lot, he’s never missed a game in his career (ironman streak now at 327 straight games) and what the Flyers don’t need is running him into the ground and compromising his effectiveness.
With a streak like this going, there’s no way Vigneault is going to scratch him for a game. But he might consider cutting back on some of his minutes.