3rd Period Demons Need Exorcising, Flyers Can't Duck Anaheim's Comeback (sorry for that) >
 
 

by Nick Arnold


Wednesday, October 30th, 2013 --


Writer’s Note: I wrote the first 2/3 of this article sitting in the press box after the 2nd period had ended. I apologize for any changes between past and present tense that I missed, which I’m sure I did. That being said, I am not bipolar, but last night’s game made me feel like I was.



Ditching the traditional game review layout of our post-game articles, I thought I would take this time to do a full team review, based off of the game we all just witnessed in comparison to the ten games before it. I’m sure you all have read my last article. If not, go ahead. I’ll wait.





Coming into this game, I said that it would be a true challenge. The three teams the Flyers have beaten this year have struggled at times in this young season. That’s not to say that any team can’t beat any other team on any given night, but the Ducks are faring far better than most of the teams the Flyers have faced thus far. At 9-3-0, Anaheim would provide us with an uphill battle to right this ship.


I have to say, it’s looking up from here. I remain cautious in my optimism, but the Flyers look like a whole new team. So many small and subtle changes have completely changed my game-time reactions from “What in the name of Benny Hill is going on here?” to “Oh, this is how hockey is SUPPOSED to look.” From awareness in each zone to positioning to moving the puck more fluidly, the entire squad looks like a well-oiled machine.


For starters, every single line is clicking. They meshed so well in fact that when someone did make a mistake it stuck out like Pierre McGuire’s package while he’s interviewing Sidney Crosby. Every line brought an offensive presence into the Anaheim zone, every line had the awareness to know when and where to be to block shots and clear rebounds. Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Michael Raffl. He had at least five great chances to score or set a goal up in the first period alone. Not only does he get better every game, he is proving that he belongs with Giroux and Vinny. That line is dangerous all over the ice.


Steve Mason once again proved that he could rob shooters blind with any piece of his equipment, though my personal favorite are his ridiculous glove saves and how easy he makes them look. Not to continue to dig on Bryzgalov because honestly, he had some flashes of brilliant play at times, but it truly feels good to not hold my breath every time an opposing player fires the rubber at our net. This goes triple for odd-man rushes and breakaways.


One player who is disappointing me through the bout is Brayden Schenn. He has continually lost battles along the boards and single-handedly defused a few chances set up by Voracek. We’re all still waiting to see the full potential of who was at one time the most sought after prospect in the NHL. Let’s hope he comes through and that the organization remains patient.


The defense is also looking improved. A major thing I’ve noticed throughout the game is Timonen is starting to show his age more and more. Let’s face it: we all love Kimmo, and he is a warrior if there ever was one. But at some point your body just cannot keep up with your will. The turnovers, being out of position and failing to see the play in front of him are becoming more prevalent than the blocked shots and breakout plays.


Coburn and Grossmann are doing what they do best, and I don’t mean assisting in opposing team goals. Clearing rebounds, taking away passing lanes, and being absolute beasts and shutting down the Anaheim offense at times. True defensive defensemen don’t need to have an offensive presence to make an impact. These guys are a wall right now.


It is unbelievable how much a team can change with some practice time and a few tweaks to the overall strategy. The magic wand has been waved. Surely the rest of the year is looking up from here and we can all smile and laugh and be merry!




Isn’t it funny how life just seems to repeat itself? You still work too much for too little pay, Chipotle still makes your anus hate you, and the Flyers still can’t play three full periods of consistent hockey.


Suddenly the third period starts and it’s like the Flyers players were all locked up in the dressing room. Teemu is tying the last knot around the real Vinny’s wrists while the stunt double Anaheim hired is turning the puck over and handing Kyle Palmieri a breakaway goal to tie the game. Every single Flyer shut down save for Mason, who has been and will continue to be the only consistent player on our team.


Hartnell went from career year form to literally handing the puck over in our own offensive zone more than once. Coburn, Grossmann, Timonen… I could name the entire lineup at this point and remind you of an offensive chance for Anaheim that was set up because of a dumb play or lazy skating. One such play reminded me why Meszaros hasn’t played with the big club recently as he turned the puck over 3 feet from his own net. If not for Mason, it would have been lights out.


Unfortunately it was lights out anyway as the Ducks’ 16 shots to the Flyers’ 6 in the final stanza proved enough to bury our boys. Palmieri beat Mason for his 2nd goal of the night for the 3-2 win in regulation. Cautious optimism has turned into outright depression. 


Have I given up hope that the Flyers can continue to play like they did for the first two periods last night? Absolutely not. But until they exorcise their 3rd period demons, it’s going to be a long year for us, brothers and sisters.


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