Matt Read is one of three Flyers rookies to contribute a goal in last night's 5 - 0 shutout over the visiting Florida Panthers. He leads all NHL fledglings in potted pucks (19), and looks to become the first to get into the 20-goal category.
Brayden Schenn and Eric Wellwood were the other rooks to add to the scoreboard. Schenn's lit lamp on the Power-Play turned out to be the game-winner, while Wellwood's breakaway was the final nail in the Panthers' coffin.
This season the Flyers hold the League's highest total in goals-scored by first-time skaters (49). Not only is this an outstanding honor to own this year, but it is such an exciting indicate when considering the immediate and long-term future of this Club.
Ready for more excitement?
This was Philadelphia's second shutout in three games, each accomplished without the services of Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros. Last night's victory came without newcomer Pavel Kubina in the lineup due to an upper-body injury.
Our boys have depth! And the depth has finish!
Brandon Manning made his NHL debut on the Flyers blue line, paired up with Andreas Lilja. He filled in great for his first time up from the AHL. Manning was even a heavy contributor on one of the Flyers best chances of the evening. Though no puck was potted, Brandon got off a slap shot that Jose Theodore amazingly saved --
Manning ended the night with almost 15-minutes of ice time, 3-shots on net and a plus/minus rating of +2. We know it's only one game, but that is incredibly impressive for a called-up, utility defenseman. Especially considering it was his first NHL outing, playing for a team that is suffering from injury around the board, and the Club's in the midst of battling for placement in post-season contention.
There was a lot of weight on this game, so I tip my hat to Brandon.
Onward to Ilya Bryzgalov.
His second shutout in three starts, his fourth win in a row.
Bryz stopped all 28-shots on his cage, and looked insanely stupendous doing so. One of his biggest tests (if not, THE biggest) came midway through the 1st period when Shawn Matthias had the entire slot to himself. Uncontested, Matthias put the puck on the back of his blade and not once, but twice, delivered his attempts on a stonewalling Bryzgalov --
The time to get hot is now, and Ilya is now playing in net the way expected him to before the season began. It was a rocky four-and-a-half months leading up to this point, but Bryzgalov's streak is exactly what a contending hockey team needs to become a legitimate Stanley Cup applicant.
What has for awhile been boos has now turned into cheers for Bryz in his barn;
Of course you have many coming out of the woodwork claiming they have never once doubted Bryzgalov. I've mentioned it before, but these same group of Kool-Aid drinkers have since announced how the Bryzgalov haters should stay off the Ilya Bandwagon.
And just like before, I'll say it again -- There is no wagon. There never was. All there ever was....was one man, one paycheck, one expectation, and one suckass performance.
Look, if you enjoy pulling the wool over your eyes and blindly rooting for an underperforming, grossly paid player no matter what, then that is completely your prerogative. But you should also note that that does not -- in the least -- give you any right to tell others you're a better fan than anyone else.
In most cases, that's called being a sheep.
Every single Flyers fan was justified for vocally expressing his or her frustration for Ilya Bryzgalov's execution between the pipes earlier this season. And no one should make these once-angered fans feel guilty for sharing their ferocious opinions.
But enough negativity being spurt from my soapbox.
How about that Scotty "Too Hotty" Hartnell?!?!?!
Hartnell buried his 32nd goal of the season on his breakaway chance in the 2nd period. I can recall a number of breakaways Scott's had since being a Philadelphia Flyer, but before last night, I cannot remember the last time he actually scored on one!
His wrister past Theodore looked like it came off a sniper's stick! Who has our Hartnell become?
That goal places him in the Top 5 Goal Scorers in the league. Hartnell parties with the likes of Steven Stamkos, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Corey Perry. Had I been given this list before the year began, I'd hand it back to you and think it was something from EA Sports NHL 12. And even then it'd be a long-shot.
Jaromir Jagr was a game-time decision, who wound up getting the nod. Harry Zolnierczyk had been called up to fill the potential spot left open if Jagr wasn't good to go. Not only did Jaromir skate, but he put his 18th goal through Theodore's guard on the Power-Play.
Danny Briere had his chances all night long. It's a crying shame he didn't snap out of his scoreless drought, but Daniel did assist on Matt Read and Jagr's goals. Everyone knows I hold a strong indisposition for #48, but I am a man who distributes props where they are deserved.
Briere was all over the ice last night and kept a handful of chances alive. One of his three shots on net rang off the crossbar as if it was the theme music for his unfortunate, continued skid. But if he keeps attacking like he did against Florida, then there's no doubt his parched score column will once again be hydrated.
Another shoutout goes to Erik Gustafsson who came up HUGE in the 2nd period when the lead was only 2-goals. Bryzgalov had been busy cutting the head off a few shots from his glove-side when the play had wrapped its way to the opposite edge of the defensive zone.
The puck banked off the boards behind the goal line and slid its way in front of a wide open Philadelphia net. Waiting a foot or two outside Bryzgalov's crease was Panthers forward Marcel Goc who, no doubt, would have sent the rubber home on a yawning cage.....
....if it weren't for Gustafsson and his Timonen-esque play --
Another clutch action by a rookie, another 'W' in the win column.
Our boys are on a roll, and looking ahead we have the Leafs on Saturday, a home-and-home against the the Devils on Sunday and Tuesday, and then the Islanders on Thursday.
Look, I don't want to start counting my chickens before they hatch, but these are four matches our Fly Guys can put away. We have to hope Bryzgalov keeps up his godlike pursuance in the backstop, and pray we see a handful of key players return from the injury list.
It's great to see our younger guys doing so well right now, but Meszaros, Timonen, Voracek and Kubina will absolutely be needed down the stretch.
Until next time,
Good night. EXCELLENT hockey.
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