After such a long layoff you had to expect some rust in the Flyer game. Flyers appeared a step behind for most of the night and couldnt execute enough to beat the lowly Panthers. Wish we had another game right away, but the Flyers have to wait another 5 days between games. I would not be surprised to see another similar effort.
Aside from a couple good shifts the Flyers overall looked sluggish the first 10-minutes of the game and allowed the Panthers to use their speed outside to set up decent scoring chances from the dots. The Flyers also had their share of scoring chances, but IMO those came in bunches and not through sustained pressure. The puck pursuit and pressure game did not seem to materialize for any prolonged periods of time. However, Flyers still go into the break up 1-0 off Asham's first goal which was set up by a JVR steal. I did like the chemistry that appears to be developing between the Gagne-Richards-Giroux line. Im impressed with Giroux's ability to get himself open for the pass and keeping pucks alive along the boards. Flyers hit 2 goal posts in the period.
Bad note: Parent sustained a "lower body injury" and is out the rest of the game. He barely logged 2+ minutes of ice time.
Gagne and Richards have a 2-1 early in the period, however they fail to even get off a shot. IMO Gagne looks to be second-guessing himself when he has the puck and perhaps he is starting to grip the stick too tight. Florida ties up the game on the power play as Weiss gets a goal that is set up by a beautiful screen from Booth. Giroux gets the lead back for the Flyers as he scores his first of the season off a great give and go down low with Gagne. Right before the goal Emery had a HUGE toe save on Ballard going left to right along the ice. Flyers fail to hold the lead though as the Panthers tie it up with less than a minute to go in the period as Horton gets a nice deflection.
It seems like one of the biggest emotional boost in hockey is scoring a goal the last minute of a period and the Panthers appear to have an extra jump as they continue to use their speed to the outside. The Flyers look like the slower team throughout the beginning of the period (probably the effect of such a long layoff). The Flyers give up their second short-handed goal of this early season when Pronger cant hold the puck in the zone and Dvorak makes the Flyers pay with his second shorty of the season. Flyers try to get the tying goal, but lack any sustained attack time. Coach Stevens even tries to change the lines but nothing works. Flyers give up an empty net goal to Reinprecht to seal the loss. On the empty netter, I question why Emery was pulled with almost 90 seconds left in the game at the END of a long shift? Once the Flyers lost the puck, they were too tired to prevent the easy clinching goal.
Disappointing loss as this is one of those types of games the Flyers needed to find a way to get 2 points. Also frustrating because of another long layoff before they take on the Big Bad Bruins at Wachovia on Thursday.
Best Flyer of the Game
Claude Giroux. He looks like he is gaining more and more confidence each game as he develops chemistry on this new line. Lets hope this line stays intact for the next few games
Worst Flyer of the Game
John Stevens. His decision to pull Emery at that point in the game is bad team management. IMO he shouldve switched to the Richards line and then look for an opportunity to get the extra man. Also, its okay to use a timeout every now and then throughout the season to straighten things out and breath some emotion into the players. Instead, it just appeared as though the Flyers were just going through the motions as the time ticked away.
Best Opponent of the Game
David Booth. While he didnt get on the scoring sheet and was a minus-1 in the game, his screen in front of Emery led directly to the pp goal that tied the game. He also had 7 shots on goal and 7 hits. He should make the US team this February at the Olympics and hopefully he plays as well as he did tonight