Hey you, don't help them to bury the light
Don't give in without a fight.
Don't help them to bury the light
3:51 into the second period, Sid the Kid just buried a pretty powerplay goal on the backhand and the Flyers find themselves down 3-0, on the road, to the Eastern Conference champion Penguins. Game over. Turn the lights out when you leave.
John Stevens called a time out, telling his team that they are not playing as badly as the score might indicate. As I watched it, it looked as if the score could be five or six to nothing in a hurry because the Pens were really firing on all cylinders. Stevens calls the time out and calms his troops down. And it worked. They regrouped and had a second period for the ages. Guess that's why he's the coach. Stevens knew his team was still in it when many of the facts seemed to point to the contrary - that is the mark of a coach who is in tune with his team and whose players believe in the message. Keep that light shining, coach.
Don't give in without a fight
Jeff Carter scores the first goal, his 10th, on a an even strength tip in off a Scottie Hartnell shot. What happened over the next five minutes was nothing short of amazing and proved how correct John Stevens was to take the timeout. On successive Penguin powerplays, Simon Gagne netted his league leading 3rd and 4th shorthanded goals to pull the Flyers into the light and a erase a three goal deficit. The first shortie was a beautiful unassisted backhand that capped off #12's own hustle in the defensive zone. Simon raced the length of the ice and tucked the biscuit neatly behind Marc-Andre Fleury. Gagne's second man-down goal of the game came on a crisp pass from Captain Mike Richards on a shorthanded break. Gagne took the pass at the right circle, dropped his shoulder and air-mailed a 35' shot into the upper right corner that knocked Fluery's water bottle into the air. The Orange and Black were feeling it and the Pens heard the refrains of a few Boobirds in the rafters of the Igloo. The Flyers continued their spirited play and got a lucky bounce off a Kimmo Timonen shot that hit the shaft of Joffrey Lupul's stick. The puck floated in the air and knuckleballed behind MAF and into the waiting net giving the Orange and Black a 4-3 lead with 0.4 left on the second period clock.
The third period found Fleury pulled in net for 6' 4"backup Danny Sabourin. Sabourin proceeded to cover the net, shut the door, kept the Flyers at bay - despite a laser of a point shot from Matt Carle that found iron. Good pressure in the offensive zone by the Pens forced an ill-advised turnover by Mike Richards that allowed the ever dangerous Sidney Crosby to put a snap shot past Biron to knot the game at 4 with just 2:33 remaining in regulation.
A scoreless overtime forced a shootout which provided the sort of entertainment the league was looking for when they changed to this format. Both goalies were superb and the shootout was deadlocked through the first three pairs of shooters. The fourth round saw Kimmo Timmonen hit the crossbar on a gorgeous backhand that completely handcuffed Sabourin. The shootout remained tied at zero through five rounds. The sixth round led off with first time shooter and Penguin defenseman, Alex Goligoski, who went forehand, backhand, forehand and scored on a sprawled Marty Biron. Scott Hartnell couldn't send the shootout into another round as the Pens beat the Flyers for the second time this year after regulation play had ended. Kudos to the Penguins, they deserve it.
The Flyers could not protect a one goal lead in the final minutes of the third period.
Mike Richards tried to do too much with the puck behind his own net, was double teamed and turned the puck over for Crosby's game tying goal.
The Orange and Black could not control the tempo of the game in the final half of the third period and did not generate consistent offensive pressure. They did not cycle the puck and eat up time and allowed the Penguins to play their run and gun style.
Jeff Carter and Glenn Metropolit won just 16 of 34 faceoff for just a 47% efficiency. Their 47% efficiency matches the team's level of futility at the dot, with the Flyers losing 57 more faceoffs than they have won.
The Flyers scored just one of their four goals while 5-on-5 and continue to struggle at even strength.
Finally, once again, the Flyers came up short in the dreaded shootout.
Simon Gagne, with his two shorthanded goals, leads the league with 4 and is tied for fourth place in goal scoring with 10 and fifth in points with 18. The impact of Gagne's ability to take a hit and play at a high level cannot be overstated. In addition to his goal scoring ability, Gagne's strong two-way play and knack for playing in any situation make him an extremely dangerous weapon.
Mike Richards is also tied for 5th in league scoring with 18 points, but his totals are assist heavy with 13 to go with 5 goals on the year. The Captain also had the best faceoff percentage in the loss, winning 15 of 22 for 68% and has added a shorthanded goal of his own to the young season.
Jeff Carter matches Gagne in goal scoring prowess with 10 and halves his total of shorties with 2. Carter has continued to play hard nosed, aggressive hockey. The added scoring helps provide balance and make the team that much harder to shut down.
The Flyers also lead the league in shorthanded scoring with 8 goals.
The Flyers' penalty killers did a great job against a high-octane Penguin powerplay, holding them to just 1-7 while scoring twice against Marc-Andre Fleury.
The Orange and Black outshot the Penguins 35-31 and won the faceoff battle 52-48%.
Matt Carle led the defense with 5 shots, second only to Jeff Carter with 7, and scored an assist on Lupul's second period goal. I love this trade by the Flyers and it continues to show that Paul Holmgren is at the top of his game. Kudos to the GM.
The Flyers continue to show they can score with anyone, as they average 3.37 goals per game average which is good for second in the league behind the current Cup holders, Detroit.
Most importantly, they took three of four points on the roadtrip and that can never be bad.
What started as a three goal deficit ended as a heartbreaking but thrilling 4-4 game and an equally thrilling 7th round, shootout loss to the Division Champion Penguins. Yes, it was a loss and will show up on the standings as an SOL, but it was more than that. It was a comeback that showed the resiliency of this young team and one that could pay dividends as the season progresses. It indicates that the Flyers are opportunistic, three special teams goals, and can play with the league elite. What has yet to be seen is how the defense will gel as players like Parent and Jones return to the lineup. I am heartened by the play of Matt Carle and look for him to be a huge piece of the puzzle going forward. Again, huge, mad props to Paul Holmgren. What also remains to be seen is if Marty Biron can play at the same high level he has shown against the Isles and Pens for long stretches. He has shown the ability to take over a series and be the difference-maker, but can he do it on a consistent basis? Only time will tell.
So which is it? Light or darkness? Black or white?
Only one thing is sure...together we stand, divided we fall.
Thanks for reading...
The Mullet - R.I.P.