For the ninth contest in a row, the Flyers allowed the game's first goal to be scored. Yet another fight from behind, this time against our division rivals, the New York Islanders.
Just a 1:35 into the first frame, Josh Bailey squeaks through Bryzgalov's crease and deposits a lit lamp. That had me wondering, so I did the math; In Philadelphia's last 10-games, the opposing team has averaged their first goal against us in the 9th minute (8:57) from the start of regulation.
Four of those ten tilts had the Flyers scored on in the first five minutes of regulation. Pretty ridiculous. What is it about this Club lately that's made them traditionally battle early against a deficit?
But perhaps I'm just focusing on the negatives when, really, there are a ton of positives.
Despite the early lead on our boys, the Islanders fell to the Flyers 6-goals to 3. The orange potted pucks came from Matt Read (2), Jaromir Jagr, Scott Hartnell, Andrej Meszaros and Sean Couturier (EN).
Within the chaos, Read chased a Hat Trick and fell short, but still managed a 3-point night which gave him the game's First Star.
Scott Hartnell scored his 31st goal of the season, a career high, and joins the likes of Wayne Simmonds and Max Talbot for accomplishing the same career feats. Kimmo Timonen assisted on Jagr's wicked backhanded shot which gave #44 his 500th career point. And Claude Giroux left the ice with three assists, and his 50th assist of the season.
Milestones dripped from the match and were met in the Flyers first win in regulation time since our 7 - 2 victory over Buffalo on February 16th.
Not a single Islanders goal could be blamed on our "scapegoat" goaltender, Ilya Bryzgalov.
Bryz left his net after stopping 21-of-24 shots (0.875%) which isn't exactly a swell stat to gaze at. But as usual, the numbers do not tell the whole story.
Lately, Ilya's been getting himself in a groove. He's slowly building his save-percentage back up, but more importantly, he's making extremely clutch saves. Throughout the season our squad's been plagued by unfortunate deflections coming off our own personnel's sticks, skates and equipment. These deflections led to our competition's goals.
Last night we saw the makings of something we're all too familiar with.
Islanders star John Tavares stampeded into our zone with possession. He took the play behind Bryzgalov's net where he then tried to get the puck centered in the deep slot. Tavares' attempt was met by the backwards retreating skate of Andrej Meszaros --
Just like that, Bryzgalov's awareness snaps and his leg fires outward like a piston, making the kick save. It was a brilliant stop. Ilya's best of the evening.
Though not the caliber of clutchness as the save on Tavares, Bryzgalov denied the important shots that -- if allowed -- may have influenced the game very differently. As the Playoffs draw closer from the horizon, it's refreshing to see our franchise netminder transition his game into a great one.
It's still not as consistent as we all hoped it'd be by now, but considering his earlier outings of the season....I'll accept this flux with open arms.
Like any battlefield, there are casualties.
During the 1st period last night, James van Riemsdyk took a puck off his skate while blocking Milan Jurcina's slap shot. At first he looked incapable of making it to the Flyers bench on his own, but when he gathered himself to one skate and a limping left foot, it was obvious this was more than just a sting.
James suffered a broken left foot on the play. He did not return to the ice for the remainder of the game. Shortly after his disappearance into the dressing room, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren broke the news.
Today JVR will be seeing orthopedic surgeon Dr. Steve Raikin who should provide a more clear, detailed diagnosis. But one thing's for sure, James will not return to the active roster for the remainder of the regular schedule.
Van Riemsdyk's teammates had this to say about the burdening announcement --
And bench boss Laviolette was not short of words --
You figure you just have to write this season off JVR's resume. It's not his year. All the injuries and trade speculation hampered the young skater's production.
I guess there goes my "Time's Yours, JVR" article, eh??
Even though James laid out and made one hell of a sacrificial play for his team, no fan can help but think of Holmgren at the trading deadline. All those proposals he received for van Riemsdyk, and he cut the heads off each and every one of them.
A few games later, and.....boom. Don't get me wrong, I'm happy with Holmgren's decision NOT to trade off JvR. Especially for some of the deals disclosed to us, the public. I'm just sayin'....
Nevertheless, our boys pulled out of it with a win. Sunday they skate into Washington to face the surprisingly terrible Capitals, and fight for a second consecutive victory which they haven't seen since mid January.
Puck drops Sunday, 7:00pm.
Good night. Good hockey.
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