How you feelin' this morning? Little groggy? Slow at your desk?
You're not alone. I stumbled into the office like a zombie, clutching onto my laptop bag like it was the last thing on earth I wanted to handle. My hair is disheveled, my face unshaven, and I'm pretty sure I have two different colored socks on....
.....yep, yes I do.
As Tuesday night met Wednesday morning, the Flyers were still taking on the Sharks in San Jose; A team we haven't beaten since Britney Spears was hot and didn't look like something you'd find at the bottom of an RV's septic tank.
Like something out of a story book, our opposition lights the lamp not even 2-minutes into regulation and the Flyers are forced to fight back from a deficit. Again. That's 34-games out his last 35 starts Bryzgalov's allowed the match's first goal.
Ryan Clowe breaks his 12-game goal-scoring drought when he beat Ilya Bryzgalov top shelf. As it turns out, it was the contest's one and only potted puck. I'll give Bryz credit here and say his defense is more to blame for that sole goal.
Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros began collapsing and bottle-necking deeper into Ilya's slot, which inevitably left Bryzgalov screened by his own men. Clowe used this to his advantage as he got a wrist-shot off our netminder never saw until it was too late --
You could say the rest of the game was The Bryzgalov Show.
Our man between the wickets ended the evening with a .957 SV%, and stopped 22-of-23 shots on his net. The numbers don't do the performance justice. Bryz was on his head so much last night, I'd be surprised if he's not bald this morning.
It was classic Coyote Bryzgalov.
His size, his awareness, and his hockey-clairvoyance was the reason our Bullies weren't defeated by a 5 - 0 margin. For example --
Nevermind the fact our defense left Dan Boyle so open that he could have danced an Irish jig before sending the puck on Bryzgalov. But Ilya followed the rubber to the opposite side of the slot, came out of his net, and used his sheer size to take every hole in his cage away from Boyle.
That's Step 1.
The next step was Bryz's patience.
Now, granted, Dan is not exactly what you'd call a "scoring machine". But do not allow that to take anything away from Bryzgalov's brilliant save. It was a prototypical 1-on-1 showdown, and Ilya stepped away the victor.
Not that you've seen him stonewall Boyle, how 'bout his gymnast leg-save he made on TJ Galiardi in the 3rd? --
The shameful reality of it all is that our frazzled goalie shows up and dishes epic execution for three frames, and our NHL's No.1 ranked offense couldn't beat Antti Niemi once.
Don't let that last sentence fool you. Niemi was - without a doubt - beatable last night. The shots were put on him and he gave up a fair amount of rebounds, but for some reason our boys weren't getting the bounce in their favor.
Not to mention --
One positive thing to note about our skaters was they finally established some solid forechecking for 60-minutes of hockey. Pressure was placed on San Jose effectively in their zone when they had possession. So despite failing to win a game back-to-back (a drought we have not snapped since January 12) there were great precedents our boys should carry home with them Thursday when they face off against the New York Islanders.
Thoughts of concern bred in the minds of millions of Flyers fans late in the 3rd period when Scott Hartnell pushed the puck from the blue line into the Sharks corner. Danny Briere had chased and got to the puck first, but immediately behind him was met by San Jose defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic --
Briere's head went crunching into the unforgiving boards. It was an awkward angle, and the impact left Danny dazed and on all-fours afterward. But the play continued down the ice?
Look, last night the officials let both squads play, which was refreshing. There were very little infractions called and it kept the game going at a relatively steady, physical pace.
But this was classic boarding by Vlasic, and the play happened right in front of the referee. There is absolutely no excuse why this was not a 5-minute major and a game misconduct for MEV.
With just seconds over 5-minutes remaining in the third, that missed opportunity for the man-advantage may have cost the Flyers an equalizing goal. But now we'll never know because a crew of league-paid arbiters don't know the difference between a legal check and a play that could have left Briere chewing on building blocks and Playskool toys for the rest of his days.
Guarantee you, had that been Zac Rinaldo putting the hit on the opposing skater like that, he'd be sent to the locker room for the remainder of the game, the Flyers would go down a man for five, uninterrupted minutes of power-play, and Rinaldo would be facing a five game suspension.
Not only would the repercussions come from the ice and league's disciplinary board, but the fallout would follow beyond the sport of hockey.
If Zac Rinaldo boarded a player like Vlasic did to Briere......birds would forget how to migrate. Up would become down. Sinead O'Connor would have ten foot long braided hair. Jerry Sandusky would become the new face of Nickelodeon. The homeless would be given keys to their brand new Acura NSX. A Dane Cook stand-up special would become our National Anthem. Sarah McLachlan's tortured pets commercial would run on our televisions 24/7, 365 days of the year, on every single goddamn channel. And George W. Bush would read a book.
Anarchy, ladies and gentlemen.
Boarding, by definition, is explained in the NHL's Rulebook under Rule 41: Boarding --
41.1 Boarding – A boarding penalty shall be imposed on any player or goalkeeper who checks or pushes a defenseless opponent in such a manner that causes the opponent to hit or impact the boards violently in the boards. The severity of the penalty, based upon the impact with the boards, shall be at the discretion of the Referee.
There is an enormous amount of judgment involved in the application of this rule by the Referees. The onus is on the player applying the check to ensure his opponent is not in a defenseless position and if so, he must avoid or minimize the contact. However, in determining wheter such contact could have been avoided, the circumstances of the check, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the check or whether the check was unavoidable can be considered. This balance must be considered by the Referees when applying this rule.
In the case of Vlasic's non-called boarding on Briere last night, there's no question Briere was defenseless and Vlasic had every opportunity not to put that hit on him. With Briere's nameplate and numbers staring Vlasic straight in the face, Marc still extended his arms on Danny, propelling Briere head first into the boards.
If this is not seriously looked at by our League's Head Disciplinarian, Brendan Shanahan, and Vlasic is not handed a multiple game suspension then it'd be an atrocity. The very ethics that are ingrained in this sport will be raped of its purity once again.
Don't forget to tune in to CSN on Thursday night, 7:00, as the Flyers host the visiting Islanders. The Isles have defeated our squad the last two games played, so let's home some vengeance is accomplished.
Good night. Good hockey.
We're on the Book of Face.
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