The Flyers entered North Carolina in their own stormy turbulence, having sandwiched stellar performances against these same Hurricanes and the powerhouse Ottawa Senators with head-scratching, maddening and inconsistent performances in losses to lesser lights Washington and Boston. The Flyers recent play was very reminiscent of a turbulent storm - awe inspiring, majestic and dangerous on one hand and erratic, sullen and moody on the other. Something had to give.
The Orange and Black blew into the heart of the Golden Triangle yesterday evening and unleashed their pent up frustration on the Carolina Hurricanes. The Flyers continued their early season mastery of the Southeast leading Hurricanes by a score of 3-1 in Raleigh. The Flyers played with incredibly focused intensity and took the play to the Canes for the lion's share of the game. In fact, the contest was nowhere as close as the 3-1 score might lead one to believe.
The Flyers' version of the "Golden Triangle" consisted not of the banking and research centers of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, but of the stellar efforts of Mike Knuble, Marty Biron and Mike Richards
. This golden threesome had the Midas touch to help erase the painful memories of their recent sub-par performances against the Capitals and Bruins and vault the Flyers into sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division. While these three players were the tip of the lightning, the game was won by superb team play, much improved spacing between forwards and defense and putting the puck on the net with extreme prejudice. When the Flyers scored first, it took the life out of both the home crowd and the home team and from then on the Canes could not match the pace and intensity the Flyers set for the rest of the contest. It was a thing of beauty.
...remember him? #22 had a hand in all three goals and equaled last week's three point effort against Carolina by potting his 8th goal of the season and tacking on two helpers for a three-dog night. Knuble's third period, mano-a-mano goal against Carolina backstop Cam Ward was his team-leading 6th powerplay goal of the season and he ended up with a team-best plus 2 for the evening. Knuble assisted on Derian Hatcher's first goal of the year to open the scoring as the right winger completed a rush by R.J. Umberger by flipping a pass across the goal crease where Hatcher took multiple whacks at the puck and stuffed it under the pad of Canes goalie Cam Ward for an even strength tally.
Knuble's second assist was a muffed shot that ended up being a "pass" to Kimmo Timonen for his third, also at even strength. Ward stopped the original shot from Mr. Everything (you know who I mean) but it trickled behind the Canes goalie where Mike Knuble shot the puck wide of an astoundingly open net. But as it happens, the "pass" ended up being golden on the stick of Kimmo Timonen who blasted a shot into the open net. Golden.
seems to come up big in big games - that is the definition of a quality goalie. It is those not-so-big games that remain a bit of an enigma. That being said, there was no riddle tonight as the lanky netminder stopped 40 of 41 shots to win his 12th of the young season. Biron surrendered a powerplay goal in the third to Cory Stillman, but the game was long over by that point. A bounceback, quality effort put forth by not only Biron, but also the defense as a whole. This was a statement game against a very good team with revenge on their mind. A 24 Carat Gold effort by the rearguard and the Netminder.
has been THE Golden Boy
this year. It seems everything he touches turns to Au (yes, gold in the periodic table). His two assists tied him with teammate Danny Briere for the team lead in points with 30. Richards is tied for 6th in the league in points and is tied for 7th in the league in goals with 14, which leads the team. He has 3 game winners (tied for team lead), 3 shorthanded goals (team leader), and has the highest winning faceoff percentage of the Orange and Black. #18 leads the team in shots, average ice-time for forwards and does everything but carry the stick bag after the game. (He might even do that too).
The boys from South Philadelphia came into the RBC Center looking to make amends for the Boston disaster, they did that. What continues to elude them, and may tell the tale whether or not they make the promised land of the playoffs, is their ability (or lack thereof) to beat lesser teams. They have proven their ability to rise to the challenge of playing with the best the league has to offer, now it is all about playing consistently good hockey when the opposing sweater is not a division leader.
Thanks for reading...