Riders on the storm
After a terrible performance against the Senators, the Flyers were looking to ride out the storm and rebound by heading into a tilt with the New York Rangers. In fact, they brought their own storm to Broadway.
OK...I know, the Flyers 5-0 shutout win against the Rangers has as much significance to the regular season as me thinking I am going to run a marathon. Remotely possible, but highly unlikely. Not in this life, anyway.
Without placing undue importance on the stats, I was, however, able to take some things away from that game that were interesting.
Theres a killer on the road
Mike Knuble scored two goals on two shots and added an assist for a three dog night - If the Flyers are to be successful, Knuble will play a larger role this year in playing on the boards, grinding in front of the net and scoring rebound and tip in, doorstep type goals. Knuble's first goal was a tip in shorthanded off a Gagne shot. His second - team's final goal - was a shot from inside 15 feet.
Simon Gagne had three assists and was a plus 2 with three shots on net. He needs to put rubber on the net, frequently. Gagne has great vision and his creativity and skill should result in large numbers of goals or assists. Good night for the first line.
Danny Briere was on the ice for two of the Flyers five goals - one shorty and one pp goal. Briere is still learning his linemates and, while he registered no points, he played every facet of the game well.
Sami Kapanen scored the other shorthanded goal - the game's first - on a takeaway burying a wrister past Lundqvist. Sami is a dangerous player and gives the Flyers' third line - along with Richards and whomever plays the off wing, which was Boyd Kane in this case - a legitimate scoring line.
The other two goal scorers were Mike Richards and Steve Downie - both at even strength. Richards will have a much better year this year and should continue to progress to become one of the more complete centers in the game. Downie is playing like there is no tomorrow right now...and there might not be this year. He is hitting - tied for the Flyers lead with four in the game - had a five minute fighting major and scored the fourth Flyer goal in only six and a half minutes of ice time. He is the Energizer Bunny of the Flyers.
Another Flyer playing like a man possessed is R.J. Umberger. He is daring the Flyers to leave him off the team. He played nearly 14 minutes and registered four hits. Umberger's versatility and desire might just win him a spot on the roster instead of being trade fodder.
The Flyers scored 2 goals even strength, one on the power play and two shorthanded. Finding ways to score on more than one line is of paramount importance this year.
Other notables are that Kimmo Timonen led all Flyers with nearly 24 minutes of ice time. Not a huge surprise. However, Braydon Coburn was second on the team with 21 minutes. I think Coburn is going to have a huge year and will solidify the Flyers' D for many years to come - Great work in getting this guy Homer!!!
Both goalies were stellar. The Rangers had their vets on the ice - including Gomez, Drury and Jagr. They did not have a bunch of scubs on the ice and the goalies pitched a shutout. Biron seems to be playing well, which is what you would hope from your #1 netminder. However, it was the play of Niitty that was troublesome coming into that game. He has been flat-out aweful so far and really seemed to be fighting the puck. For him to come in and see 20 minutes and 14 shots could pay dividends down the road. Niitty has skill, of that there is not too much debate. His issue has been his mental state coming back from an injury last year. Hopefully this will go a long way towards addressing those inner demons.
The Rangers went 0-7 on the powerplay. While that speaks to the kind of job that the goalies and PK did, I would not want to give a potent offense like the Rangers the chance to possess that many man-up opportunities. The Rangers had nearly 28 minutes of powerplay time and to expect every team to go 0-7 would be foolish. The Flyers need to play disciplined hockey and refrain from foolish penalties.
Gomez, Drury and Jagr were a combined -5. Nice defensive job.
The Flyers lost 36 draws while winning only 29. It is very hard to control the game unless you win faceoffs. The Flyers need to do a better job at it. Makes you miss Primeau, Brind'Amour and Hanzus.
His brain is squirmin like a toad
Lundqvist allowed 5 goals on 23 shots. Do not expect to see this kind of save percentage when the Flyers meet the Blueshirts when the games count. This guy is the real deal and a near certain Vezina winner in the not too distant future.
Henrick Lundqvist apparently made an amazing glove-hand save on Sami Kapanen's penalty shot in the first period. I wish I could have seen it. Well, the nearly 13,000 at Madison Square Garden saw it and offered the NY faithful something to cheer about...just about the only thing to cheer about.
Let your children play
Not sure how many of the vets will play against the Devils, but it will be good for the younger players to get game action in front of a home crowd for the first Flyers TV broadcast.
Gotta love your man
Great job by Flyers head coach John Stevens and the coaching staff. The team was well prepared to face a hostile MSG crowd and took it to them in their own building.
The Flyboys need to take the momentum and roll into the Bank Building to square off with the Devils tonight. Boy am I glad hockey is back...
Thanks for reading.