Here it is late March and the Flyers still haven’t figured out how to win a road game in 2022.
That’s right, the Flyers are 0 for the calendar year when they play outside Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center.
Tuesday night’s game at Detroit’s Little Caesars Arena continued the frustration as the Flyers extended winless streak on the road with a 6-3 defeat by the Red Wings.
They have now gone winless in 13 straight in opponents’ buildings dating back to a win at Seattle on Dec. 29, 2021.
One bright spot in the setback for the Flyers was the play of Joel Farabee at a new position, center. The Flyers decided to dress only 11 forwards (and seven defensemen) for this game, so Farabee saw some time at center, particularly on a line with Cam Atkinson and James van Riemsdyk, which produced a goal late in the game.
“I thought ‘Beezer’ (Farabee) did a hell of a job at center,’’ interim head coach Mike Yeo said after the game. “We said before the game we thought he was a player capable of playing that position. . .his skill set. You saw he was able to exit out of our zone a number of times. He was able to read plays and that’s an important part of playing the center position.’’
Farabee said he played a bit of center back in his Boston University days.
“Losing ‘Brass’ (Derick Brassard) at the trade deadline, it kind of gave me an opportunity,’’ said Farabee of Brassard’s move to Edmonton on Monday. “I think I could have been a little bit better on faceoffs. It’s a work in progress. In the D-zone I felt pretty comfortable. I think it creates a lot of opportunity. You can touch the puck a little bit more. It’s something I want to add to my game, keep building off that.’’
Once again, mistakes with the puck led to the Flyers’ undoing.
“Obviously there are things that we can be better at,’’ Yeo said. “Execution-wise, we had some turnovers. We have to be a little sharper in that area. A lot of turnovers in the neutral zone which create pressure (on the defense). We have to be stronger there. Tonight I liked the way the guys kept battling back. We just didn’t find a way to tie it up.’’
Jakub Vrana’s second goal of the game with 1:09 left in the second period pushed the Red Wings to a 4-2 lead. Vrana finished off a cross-slot pass from Dylan Larkin.
After falling behind by a three-goal margin, the Flyers came storming back to cut the edge to one in the second period. Another goal by van Riemsdyk with 8:37 to play in the game made it 4-3 but the Flyers couldn’t get a tying goal. Detroit iced it with a pair of empty-net goals in the closing minutes.
Goals by Farabee (1:32) and Oskar Lindblom (7:56) in the middle frame got the Flyers back into it. Farabee worked a give-and-go with Kevin Hayes and dunked a shot past goalie Alex Nedeljkovic. Then Travis Konecny’s outlet pass caught Lindblom in stride for what became his 11th goal of the season.
The Red Wings raced to a 3-0 lead with a pair of first period goals and another early in the second.
Joe Veleno made a nice sweep around the back of the net and beat Carter Hart on a wraparound at 5:17. Then Vrana took advantage of some loose defense by Rasmus Ristolainen in front for Detroit’s second goal at 9:15.
Detroit continued to attack as the second period began. Lucas Raymond converted a pass from Pius Suter at 1:07.
It was a tough night for Ristolainen, who was on the ice for three of Detroit’s first four goals. But he wasn’t making any excuses.
“Risto is a warrior for us,’’ Yeo said. “He made a couple mistakes, a couple plays where the puck ended up in the net. But we put him a tough position a couple times. I think one thing with Risto, he’ll be the first to admit when he made a mistake. I like that, I appreciate that about him. Nobody’s perfect, we all make mistakes. It’s about how you respond. I thought he responded the right way in the third period.’’
Ristolainen admitted he’s had better nights.
“I gave them three goals,’’ he stated with his usual blunt tone. “Those things happen. I just try to forget what happened and move forward.’’
On Tuesday the Flyers announced they have signed right wing Hayden Hodgson to an NHL contract for the 2021-22 season with an average annual value of $750,000. Hodgson was assigned to the Phantoms.
With the Phantoms this season, Hodgson has 18 goals/29 points in 44 games. The 18 goals are tied for the team lead.
With the 11-7 alignment, spare D-men Nick Seeler and Kevin Connauton were in action. . .The Flyers move to the second game of this five-game road trip on Thursday when they play the Blues in St. Louis. . .Konecny’s assist was his 30th, bringing him to within seven of his career high with 19 games to play.