I was fortunate enough to go see the Flyers play last night, and finally, there came a time when they didn't seem to disappoint. I was sitting 10 rows up on the mezzanine level so i was WAY up there, but I was dead center and got to see the entire view of the rink which I love. I ended up taking my friend who took a bus down from Brooklyn because we are both die-hard fans. Bad thing is, whenever both of us go to see a game together the Flyers always lose. Our record previously was 0-8-2. So I had a hunch that it would change.
So the game starts and within the first minute, Simon Gagne picks off a pass, takes it down the ice, does his usual forehand to backhand move, which, if no goalie can save by now means they are pathetic, was done to perfection. This period is fast paced from the Flyers point of view constantly staying in the Thrashers zone and peppering Hedberg with shot after shot after shot. With time winding down in the last minute of the 1st, Knuble gets a crystal clear pass from Gagne in the slot and fires a wrister right past Hedberg. Right as the period came to a close, Armstrong laid a cheap shot on Timonen getting a boarding call against him. The shots ended up being 19-4 after the first period, which, from a Flyers point of view, you don't get to see that often. Even though most of the players were playing as a team, I focused specifically on Joffrey Lupul, who seemed to be playing with the heart of a ummmmmm......... teddy bear? He could never control the puck, would give weak hits, poor shots, and, most of the time, would fall over himself. I would just shake my head and wonder how he could be playing in a game of this caliber. Over the course of the game, John Stevens played him on every line that the Flyers put out, just to see if he would click with anyone. Well, he didn't.
The start of the second period brought a new powerplay to fresh ice, which is good for any team, but the Flyers could not capitalize. Halfway through the period, the Thrashers took another dumb penalty by tripping Arron Asham. Obviously, Asham is the guy that players need to trip to stop a goal from scoring. *cough* sarcasm *cough* So as Valabik is sitting in the box, Timonen decides to get revenge on Armstrong for the cheap shot. Timonen gets a puck at the point skates to the left side of the point and fires a shot past Hedberg, and boy was it a beauty. Coming down to crunch time in the period, Kovalchuk, who is probably my favorite player that is a non-Flyers, dangles around Lasse Kukkonen on the left wing, starts cutting behind the net, and lays a perfect backhand pass to Christensen who roofs it top right corner. Not much happened during the period but I couldnt help but notice Lupul again, lolly-gagging around as if it were a pickup game. So many missed opportunities came from Lupul being on the ice, I couldn't count them with my hands or my toes.
During intermission, my friend and I decided to wait in line for ice cream. So we go to the stand and see that the line has roughly 30-40 people waiting to get some. Needless to say, we missed the first 5 minutes. But, when we were standing in line talking, I brought up that this may be our first game that we might win since we have started going to games together. And wouldn't you know it, the jinx paid off. Since we were waiting for the first 5 minutes of the 3rd we got to see Bryan little score in the first minutes on the small screens that they have above the concession stands. My friend decided to give me a punch for uttering such an ominous sentence at the most inopportune time. We go back to our seats and no more than 8 minutes after, I saw Slava Kozlov roof a backhander over Niity like it was nothing. Just our luck. I played all the games we had been to over and over and over in my head just seeing this game turn out to be another big fat "L" that the Flyers could put into their loss column. The Flyers were looking dead tired out on the ice.
I was cashing in my chips when Lupul took the puck from the Flyers zone. What do you expect from a player who shows no effort the entire game and only screws up when he is out on the ice. I saw him take it from our blueline to the other and I turned to my friend the second he crossed it and said, and I quote, "Wouldn't it be something if Lupul scores right now?"
So Lupul goes on the far left wing, cut back to the middle, has a wide open slot, and rips a slapshot short-side on Hedberg, and the place went NUTS!!!!!! I was just yelling, "LUPUL! LUPUL! LUPUL! LUPUL!" For the Wachovia Center being half full, there was complete pandemonium.
We ended up holding them off for the rest of the game, and wouldn't you know it? Lupul got the third star of the game. I turned to my friend as we were leaving and said, "What do you know? Lupul pulled it out for us and we got our first win. This is a day to remember."
We got a goal from an unexpected hero, and, MAN, was it fabulous.