Home Sweet Home – Flyers go to 2-1 at home, 3-6 on the season >

by Nick Arnold

Saturday, Feb. 02, 2013 -

Our boys may have a losing record on the season so far, but have played relatively well at home with a 2-1-0 record in 3 games at the Well. Before I dissect the game period-by-period, let me get the bad news out of the way first. GM Paul Holmgren has confirmed that Wayne Simmonds has a concussion as the result of Erskine’s elbow in Friday night’s game against the Capitals. There is currently no timetable for his return to the ice. Be sure that we’ll update you the second we hear something. This is a huge loss, as Simmonds has been one of the most noticeable and dominant forces on the ice for the Flyers this season, especially with the loss of Scott Hartnell.

Now let’s get into the Flyers third win of the season.

1st Period:

The storyline to begin this tilt against the Hurricanes was our seemingly ever-changing first line. Tonight, it consisted of Briere and youngster Tye McGinn playing on either side of Captain Claude. Less than five minutes into the game, the Flyers went on their first man advantage of the game. If you’re like me, you were as excited about the Flyers’ special teams taking the ice as your pet dog was excited when you took him to get fixed. Sure enough, it looked like another bad night for the power play unit when one of the Staal brothers was off to the races on a shorthanded breakaway.

Fortunately, Bryzgalov wasn’t having any of it as he stoned him on the attempt. The Flyers immediately turned back the other way and set up in the ‘Canes zone. A great play by Couturier kept the puck in the Flyers’ possession as he sent it back to Matt Read at the point. Read faded over to the center, faked a shot, and then floated it over to a waiting Foster who blasted a shot that looked as if it would have ripped a hole through Ellis if he had gotten a piece of it. The good news is that he didn’t see it until it was burning the twine behind him to light the first lamp of the bout. The Flyers score on their first power play of the game. Pigs fly. Dogs and cats live together in harmony. 

1-0 Flyers.

A few minutes later, the Flyers can’t exorcise their turnover demons as a bad giveaway turns into an offensive chance for the Hurricanes. The defense completely broke down leaving a ‘Cane wide open in the slot. Pitkanen wristed one under Bryzgalov’s blocker to tie the game at 1.

The very next shift saw Sestito and Harrison drop the gloves, but the fight was short-lived as both men lost their footing and spun to the ice. This was followed by an advertisement about Tim Panaccio. This is off topic, but am I the only one who throws my shoe at the screen every time his ugly mug is on my television? I feel like this should be a common reaction. But I digress.

About 14 minutes into the first period, B. Schenn broke up a pass and sent the puck the other way. Voracek turned the rockets on as he sped past Carolina players all the way into the slot where he threw the puck at the net. Ellis made the initial save but the rebound landed right in front of both Talbot and Coburn. The latter of the two roofed the puck for the Flyers’ 2nd goal of the game. Two goals by two defensemen. WHAT DOES IT MEAN? If you answered “nothing”, congratulations.

The Flyers went back on the power play after a slashing call. Shortly into the advantage, Timonen makes what was, in my opinion, a pretty boneheaded play. As the puck trickled through the neutral zone and two ‘Canes skated towards it, Timonen had the time to step up and play the puck. Instead, he chose to hesitate and then skate back to prepare for the 2-on-1 that could have been completely avoided had he moved up. Thankfully, Bryzgalov seems to be in this crazy mindset where he’s a good consistent goaltender that’s getting paid a lot of money to stop pucks. He bails the team out once again and the puck is sent the other way via a speeding Voracek yet again.

Timonen sent the puck to Giroux from the point where our Ginger Jesus came to life with a beautiful pass through the slot right to Briere, who potted the 2nd Flyers powerplay goal of the night. 3-1 Flyers, who are 2-for-2 at this point on the man advantage. What witchcraft is this?

Shortly after, another Flyers turnover leads to an Eric Staal goal to cut the lead to just 1. Luke Schenn sent the puck off of a Hurricane skate instead of sending it up the boards, leaving Eric Staal 1-on-1 with Bryzgalov in close. Bryz stayed with him but Eric gently pushed the puck under the netminder’s pads for an answering goal. The period ended with the Flyers leading 3 to 2.

2nd Period:

Only thirty seconds into the second stanza, Bryzgalov had to face a 3-on-1 odd-man rush with only Grossmann back to help him. His positioning was solid as he forced Staal to take a shot that was shrugged away by Mr. Universe.

Less than half a minute later, it was a ‘Welcome Back!’ part for Obi-Wan Knuble as he scored his first goal as a Flyer since returning to the team just over a week ago. Matt Read took advantage of a lazy pass by Ellis and Knuble capitalized with a wrap-around attempt that found the back of the net. This was the end of the night for Ellis as Cam Ward suited up – and took his time doing so as the crowd let the Hurricanes hear it.

Halfway into the period, the other half of the Flyers’ dreadful special teams was called to the ice as Timonen took a penalty for cross checking. Again, we were pleasantly surprised with a great effort. Fedotenko took the puck into the Carolina zone and effectively killed off about 30 seconds single-handedly before going to the bench for a change. The rest of the PK was decent. Not many chances and good positioning led to the first successful kill of the night.

The story of the night for the Flyers was the turnover ratio. They stayed out of the box for the first half of the game, but the turnovers killed them. The 2nd period saw a lot more than the 1st, but Bryz was up to the task and kept this game from getting out of hand.

The Flyers scored their third powerplay goal of the night on a Too Many Men infraction by the Hurricanes. Giroux sent a puck towards a screened Ward who never saw the shot coming. The rest of the period saw the Flyers shorthanded a few more times, and each time they killed the penalties off perfectly. They generated shorthanded chances and Bryz made save after save. Each Flyers line was clicking and it felt like an overall full effort through the first two periods of play.

3rd Period:

Unfortunately, the perfect streak for the game ended for the PK when Dwyer took a perfect pass from Staal and lifted it past Bryzgalov to make it 5 to 3 with the Flyers still on top.

In typical Flyers style, there is no such thing as the entire team playing for a full 60 minutes anymore. When did this become the norm for our boys in Orange and Black? I feel like there was a time in the distant past where we didn’t have to use that phrase all the time. “They need to play a full 60 minutes of hockey.” Shouldn’t that be a given when you’re a professional hockey team?

The Flyers were on their heels for pretty much the entire final 20 minutes of play. Pucks were being given away like presents on Christmas, and only the Grinch – in this case, Grinchgalov – could take those gifts away from the Hurricanes. Carolina went on the powerplay a few more times in the game, but to no avail. Philadelphia’s penalty kill remained strong and Bryzgalov guarded his net like a Siberian tiger guarding his cave. He turned away a whopping 39 shots in a 5-3 Flyers victory. The special teams finally turned the ship around tonight with a 3-for-3 record on the man advantage while killing off 5 of the 6 powerplays given to the Hurricanes.

Not to end this on a down note, but I am not too excited about this win. Am I happy we won? You bet I am. But look at it this way: we scored 5 goals tonight and yet we only won by 2. Bryzgalov made 39 saves tonight and played an amazing game, yet we still let in 3 goals. 

The catalyst in all of this now lies in the turnovers. If the special teams continues to play the way they played tonight, and everyone steps up as they have been in light of all the recent injuries, this Flyers team still has what it takes to be a contender, to take a playoff spot and to be taken seriously. But none of that is going to happen if they don’t stop giving the puck away this many times every game.

Tonight was a good start in the right direction with the special teams play. Now let’s continue to work at our flaws and turn the season around while there’s still plenty of time left. Another month of turnovers and undisciplined play is a one-way ticket to the bottom of the conference. That being said, good game tonight from our boys, and another Flyers win to bring the record to 3-6-0.

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