Big win for Philadelphia tonight as they get closer to playing a full 60-minute game. For the most part the Flyers were up on their skates and initiating contact while pursuing the puck, however, the Panthers looked like they were just trying to get out of town after the big Richards hit on Booth.
Back and forth game as both teams have several scoring chances in the games first minutes. Both teams strike iron and have golden opportunities in a run-and-gun first 5 minutes, which ends with Briere getting a goal off a tremendous pass out front from Van Reimsdyk. Once the Flyers scored and Vokoun came up huge with two saves on Carter while shorthanded, Philadelphia appeared to stop skating and let the Panthers back into the game. Florida eventually tied the game after Gagne had a horrible turnover in the defensive end. The Flyers were never able to get the puck back and it ended up in the back of the net off a neat little deflection from David Booth.
Philadelphia really starts to dominate the game during this period, outshooting Florida 15-2 in the process. Asham scored his third goal in the last 3 games off a nice rush that started when Pronger hit Asham in the neutral zone, who head-manned the puck to Richards for a nice give-and-go coming over the blue line. Asham muscled the puck in and the Flyers took the lead early in the second. Florida ran into penalty problems as they took 3 infractions in a row. The Panthers did a great job of penalty killing during the first two chances, but eventually the Flyers made them pay when Gagne finally registers his first goal of the season on the power play. Scary moment towards the end of the period as Richards flattens David Booth coming across the blue line. Booth looked unconscious for several minutes and had to be taken off on a stretcher, while Richards was given a 5-minute major for interference and a game misconduct.
There will be a lot of people arguing both sides of this hit, but IMO the hit did not look dirty and Richards is not known for cheap hits. He plays hard and is respected around the league for his hard play. As an observer watching on the television, it looked to me like Booth cut across the middle of the ice right by the Flyers blue line and did a back-handed pass to a teammate. The problem is he was caught admiring his pass and by the time he noticed Richards it was too late. For his part, Richards kept his elbow down and hit Booth with his shoulder. Could the play have been avoided? Hard to say as this is a very fast game and split-second decisions are made. The bigger issue is this hit comes on the heels of the Ruutu hit on Tucker and for the second night in a row a NHL player has to leave the ice strapped to a backboard. If the league wants to really address head shots, this is a the perfect opportunity as the big bad Flyers are now in the spotlight. My prediction is Richards gets two games. Im interested to hear what he has to say after the game as his self-imposed media silence has to be shattered now
Philadelphia continues to dominate in most areas of the ice as Florida looks to get out of the city without any more injuries (Dvorak also went down in the first period). Aside from a few checks it seemed like the Panthers physically quit after the big hit on Booth. I didnt like seeing Carcillo take a run at the young Panther defensemen Kulikov in this type of game. Carcillo was clearly going after the body and not the puck, which is fine but I'd rather see him do that against Gonchar, Letang, Goligoski, et al when we play the Penguins instead of against a 19 year old rookie. Time and place Carcillo, time and place. I was surprised to not see any Panther players stick up for their young defensemen, but again it looked like they packed it in. Briere got his second goal of the night on the power play off a gift goal but we will take it. It was good to see Van Reimsdyk score his first ever NHL goal off a breakaway which came off a great feed from Briere. Love to see the emotion from young players when they get their first goal.
Best Flyer of the Game
Danny Briere. Two goals and an assist tonight and had several other chances.
Worst Flyer of the Game
Braydon Coburn. Not really a bad game (he's had plenty of those lately, but not tonight) but he earned it for the boneheaded slash while already a man down. He was shown looking at the replay while in the box and it looked like he totally agreed.
Best Opponent of the Game
Tomas Vokoun. He kept Florida in the game early and had great saves on Carter and Richards while short-handed and a Briere breakaway coming out of the box in the first period. He cant be to blame on many of the goals against tonight