PHILADELPHIA – Real time statistics are measured differently in each NHL city. Off ice officials are charged with tracking different statistics and they do so with varying degrees of fervor.
One that tends to be consistent, and maybe even underreported around the league is giveaways and takeaways.
Different from turnovers by definition, the idea is giveaways are the fault of the player who lost the puck while takeaways are a credit to a player who makes a fine play to strip the puck from an opposing player.
Never are the two simultaneous, which is what makes it more difficult to spot.
As such, the tallies for giveaways and takeaways are usually low – mostly in single digits.
On Tuesday, the Flyers had 16. That’s right. One-six.
Conversely the Anaheim Ducks, their opponent, had six.
You can try to call it a bad night. You can try to call it a game with an overzealous tabulator. And if you did, you would be doing nothing but protecting the Flyers from what really took place – for after the Flyers played what may have been their best period of hockey in their opening stanza, building a two goal lead, they promptly turned into an operation that mass produced turnovers like they were widgets en route to a 3-2 loss.
It’s a shame too, because up to a point, the Flyers were in control. They had the game where they wanted it. They had played well enough to keep a top team like the Ducks at bay.
All they had to do was to play their game – much in the same way they did in New York in a win over the Islander Saturday, but they couldn’t stop making the mistakes – especially in the third period when it mattered the most.
“I thought maybe we were past that, but we weren’t obviously,” said coach Craig Berube incredulously. “I mean we didn’t do much in the third until the power play and we got the goalie out.”
Rewind just a bit, because by the time the third period power play came and the goalie was being pulled, the water-bailing was in full effect.
Prior to that it was a solid effort by the Flyers.
Jake Voracek was skating hard, Scott Hartnell was pumping a ton of shots on goal (seven to be exact) and even the fourth line was taking a regular and productive shift.
And then, it just stopped.
It literally was as if someone just pulled the needle off the album in mid-song. It was as if the teams swapped strategies mid stream.
“We stopped moving our feet and started watching the puck,” Giroux said. “In the first period, I think we did a good job of skating and getting our feet going, but in the third period we were puck-watching and you can’t do that against a good team like the Ducks.”
Because when you do, you risk having fine efforts, like the one exerted by goalie Steve Mason, go for naught.
Mason was again locked in. He made 34 saves and tried his darndest to keep the Flyers in the game.
But the Ducks are a good team – maybe the best the Flyers have played this season so far – and he could only keep them down so long until the mistakes mounted up too high and he wasn’t able to stop them all.
Each Ducks goal was born from a Flyers turnover.
Nick Grossmann, who came out flying with an assist on the first Flyers goal by Matt Read and strong physical play, especially against that dynamic duo of the Ducks, was playing well enough early to garner consideration as one of the game’s three stars.
Then he tried to rush a pass in the second period that was intercepted by Getzlaf at the blue line. The talented Duck center shot the puck high and wide but it beelined off the glass right to the waiting stick of Andrew Cogliano for an easy goal that trimmed the Flyers lead to 2-1.
Then, a minute into what would be the dreadful third period, Vinny Lecavalier, who was coming off another fine goal – his fourth in two games – lost control of the puck at the Anaheim blue line to Kyle Palmieri, who streaked the rest of the way on a breakaway and slid a shot past Mason to tie the score.
Lecavalier was also on the ice for the eventual game-winner as he and Mark Streit got tangled with Sami Vatanen, allowing the puck to squirt loose to Palmieri for a give-and-go 2-on-1 break with Nick Bonino that Palmieri tipped past Mason.
“We allowed too many turnovers during the game in general,” Lecsvalier said. “I think the first half of the game we played very solid. It seemed after that we were a little flat. We had a lot of turnovers that were coming right back into our zone. Obviously they’ve got some good players on that team and they capitalized on that.”
And it leaves the Flyers again searching for answers.
There was a half a game of really true positives. Read scored for a third game in a row. Giroux now has six points in six games after going scoreless in the first five….
But now at 3-8, you can’t help but wonder if this game won’t stick in their craw a little more as one that definitely got away.
“I think every game that you lose, especially when you have a lead going in to the third period, you kick yourself in the butt every time,” Read said. “It’s something where we have to look at our positives and negatives, and move on to the next game.”
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers
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