Flyers-Blues observations: Finally on the right side of a review



ST. LOUIS — The Flyers put together one of the most impressive shutouts in franchise history on Thursday with a 2-0 win over the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center.

Despite playing with a makeshift unit that had just 272 games played combined amongst the team’s six defensemen, the Flyers walked away with the win. Goalie Michal Neuvirth stopped all 33 shots he faced for his 11th career shutout.

Brandon Manning scored the game’s first goal 38 seconds into the second period. It was initially waved off for goalie interference but overturned after a review. 

Claude Giroux added an empty-netter in the final minute.

• Not only was Ivan Provorov all over the place Thursday night, but he was in every shooting lane as well. Facing the NHL’s No. 1-ranked team in blocked shots, Provorov turned in a performance even the Blues could admire with 10 blocked shots of his own, which tied a team record.

• Neuvirth went down awkwardly after he collided with Mark Alt’s stick in the third period. Neuvirth stayed down for several seconds. After officials blew the whistle to stop play, Neuvirth recovered and remained in the game.

• It appeared as if the Flyers lost another key player to injury as Brayden Schenn took a late run at Sean Couturier and caught him with a forearm in the head area. Couturier went down hard and stayed down in obvious pain before he was helped off. Schenn was given two minutes for interference.

Couturier missed the final eight-plus minutes of that second period. He returned to begin the third period and showed no ill effects from the shot he took from Schenn.

• I’m not sure if there are too many teams that move their defense around as much as the St. Louis Blues do. Offensively, they’re never stagnant and as long as their forwards rotate and cover defensively, it makes for a difficult matchup. 

• After Couturier exited, Jori Lehtera, who played his best game as a Flyer, filled in on that top line, as did Scott Laughton.

• Neuvirth brought his A game to the Gateway City with his biggest save on former teammate Schenn. Neuvirth flashed the glove on a perfectly executed breakout play that started behind the Blues’ own net. Neuvirth also displayed excellent rebound control as he steered shots toward the boards and in areas where St. Louis couldn’t generate a second-chance opportunity.

• I’m surprised the officials overturned their own call on the ice as they awarded Manning with the goal even after they whistled Jakub Voracek for goaltender interference. Credit the officials for recognizing that Alex Pietrangelo made the contact with a nudge, but it still didn’t appear as if Voracek made contact with Blues goalie Jake Allen. 

• One replay gave the appearance that Manning’s point blast was redirected, but it was hard to see who got a stick on the puck.

• Early in the second period, the Blues’ No. 1 power-play unit stayed out on the ice for the entire two minutes. While the Blues were able to keep it in the zone for much of that time, credit the Flyers’ penalty killers, as most of the Blues’ shots came from the perimeter and not much in the high-danger areas.

• The Flyers were under barrage for the first seven-plus minutes of the game as the Blues outshot them 10-1 to begin. Dale Weise committed a pointless slashing penalty away from the puck that gave St. Louis its first power play. The Blues’ best opportunity came when sniper Vladimir Tarasenko had a wide-open net from the right circle, but it appeared he tried to guide the puck and missed the net entirely.

• Making his NHL debut at the age of 29, Will O’Neill appeared to be very mindful of not getting caught out of position or overcommitting. O’Neill worked with a number of partners but played just 2:54, and actually had a shot on net.

• Allen misplayed a puck behind his net, which rolled outside the trapezoid area and allowed Couturier to gather it before the goalie could return to his net. However, Couturier was not able to take advantage as none of his linemates were unable to fill the passing lane with a wide-open net.

• As part of their defensive structure, the Blues’ forwards are very committed to their backchecking duties, which was evident in the opening 20 minutes. The biggest hit came when Vladimir Sobotka leveled Couturier behind the net. Whether it’s accurate or not, and it usually favors the home team, the Blues outhit the Flyers 13-3 in the opening period.

• St. Louis dominated the first half of the period, but the Flyers bounced back in the latter half. The Flyers did a considerably better job of maintaining puck possession and not allowing the Blues to cycle the puck quite as much.

Lines, pairings and scratches

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Travis Konecny-Valtteri Filppula-Wayne Simmonds
Jordan Weal-Jori Lehtera-Dale Weise
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl

Ivan Provorov-Robert Hagg
Brandon Manning-Travis Sanheim
Will O’Neill-Mark Alt

Michal Neuvirth
Brian Elliott

Scratches: Forward Matt Read (healthy), and defensemen Radko Gudas (upper body) and Shayne Gostisbehere (upper body).

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