It's a damn shame, but with only seven minutes remaining in last night's 3rd period, the Islanders winded up accomplishing what no team could against Bryzgalov the last three games he started.
Philly was up 3 - 0 on the scoreboard, and Flyers nation watched the game-clock while chewing their nails into nubs.
"Is he really going to do this!?" We all asked ourselves, "Is Ilya Bryzgalov really going to shut out his fourth opponent in a row!?!?" And then --
Up to that point, the defense was clearing the puck from the slot, crease and zone pretty well. And I stress "pretty well."
The match began very shaky. New York's forechecking was so effective all game long and it had left butterflies in my stomach and my butt on the edge of my couch. There were a bunch of bad bounces, but luckily for the Flyers none had resulted in nested pucks behind #30.
Midway through the second frame, Ilya had exceeded John Vanbiesbrouk's franchise record of consecutive shutout minutes, and ended the evening with a new Philadelphia milestone; 249-minutes and 43-seconds.
Ilya's post-game behavior may come off a bit......abnormal most of the time. But in this case, it fails to go without pure class. Brzygalov had just snapped an organization's record that has stood since the 20th century, and all he had to say about it was that it was all due to the tremendous support from the skaters in front of him.
But I'm sure there's a beat writer out there somewhere cooking up a scheme to sell it as him snubbing Vanbiesbrouk, Ed Snider or one of the other suits in the office. Especially one writer, in particular, that I can think of --
Nevertheless, we didn't survive a scoreless match but our boys still skated away victorious in the goal column. The orange lamps came from Zac Rinaldo on a terrible angled "shot", Claude Giroux's wicked snap shot, and another breakaway snipe from the stick blade of Scotty "Too Hotty" Hartnell (GWG).
There was one rarity we witnessed throughout the contest, and that was Wayne Simmonds clearly losing a decision in some fisticuffs.
Early in the 2nd period, Islanders grinder Matt Martin stepped into defenseman Andreas Lilja along the benches. The hit put Lilja on his backside, and teammate #17 did not appreciate it. Wayne caught up with Martin at center ice, and the two ruffians shared a few rights --
Martin caught Simmonds over the side of the face and staggered Simmonds noticeably. Wayne didn't recover much, and the fight ended with both players on their skates.
Nothing to worry about. Matt Martin's a tough customer, and fortunately - for him - he got the haymaker in before Simmonds had a chance to make his deposit.
The tilt's decision easily tips to Martin.
Amongst the battle fought, Laviolette made one hell of a great judgement by squaring up Sean Couturier's line against John Tavares' line as often as he could (remember, the home team has last say which line combination gets on the ice before the faceoff).
Our very young centerman continues to exhibit his defensive play which is well beyond his years as a rookie. Combined with Niklas Grossmann on our blue line, the two Flyers shut Tavares down virtually all game long which is NOT an easy feat.
Going 1st Overall in the NHL's 2009 Entry Draft, John Tavares has quickly become one of the League's most respected offensive weapons. He's easily the keystone to every opposing coach's strategy leading into a match up versus the Islanders, and he forever will be regardless which Club he skates for.
Last night, Couturier sized him up very well and did an outstanding job keeping him off the scoreboard. But you can only do so much, for so long, against this adversary's best player --
35-seconds after Michael Grabner broke the cobwebs from Bryzgalov's cage, John Tavares instills energy and life back into the Coliseum and the Islanders bench.
Thankfully it woke up a seemingly sleepy Philadelphia backcheck, and New York never managed a game-tying goal. Flyers come away with their eighth victory in their last ten competitions, and take the season series 4-wins to their own 2-losses.
Now that that game is out of the way, our Philadelphia Broad Street Bullies have a weekend of titans to combat. Saturday holds a 1:00 start against the struggling Boston Bruins. The Beantown Crew has lost four straight games, and in absolutely abysmal fashion. For the first time in awhile, their division leading spot is in major jeopardy of being overthrown buy the Ottawa Senators....
The. God. Damn. Ottawa. Senators.
Look, I don't care HOW badly Boston's been raped the last week or two, they're still outrageously dangerous. And now that their backs are against the wall, we can expect them to hit the ice with some major determination and thirst for blood.
Should that intimidate our boys? HHHHHHHHHHELL no. Screw the Bruins. If our latest hot streak and game's consistency plays a factor, we should head in hungrier, and then exit New England with the shanked scalps of Chara, Lucic and Seguin draped over our blood soaked 'W'.
But they're still a squad to respect.
And last, but not least, we welcome the Pittsburgh Penguins -- a division rival who just won their tenth straight game Thursday night as they destroyed the Conference leading New York Rangers.
The Pens are the poster-child of a team barreling into the post-season with momentum under their skates. I hate Pittsburgh with every fiber of my earthly existence, but I'd be lying if I said this team doesn't disturb my confidence.
On top of the heavy-loaded weekend, the Flyers are traditionally terrible with afternoon games. And that's just putting it lightly. Rocky Dennis would have a better chance at getting in Jenny McCarthy's pants than the Flyers do at pulling away with a win from an afternoon puck drop. So we pray.....we pray so hard that our boys show up Saturday & Sunday and play the hockey we know they're capable of playing.
Sweet, sweet, oh sweet Lord.....please, PLEASE let our boys show up!
Until then, readers.
Good night. Good hockey.
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