Last night the Flyers yet again proved that if you’re going to watch the game, get ready for a bumpy ride. The first six or so minutes were the smoothest part of the ride. Ryan Miller was peppered with five shots before Sean Couturier finally buried one. Then 13 seconds later James van Reimsdyk snapped one in the top right shelf of the net over Miller’s glove. Scott Hartnell then blasted a slap shot in almost the identical spot of the net, three goals in just over six minutes.
After the third goal Ryan Miller was pulled in favor of Jhonas Enroth. Those opening minutes were just further proof of how dangerously good of a road team the Flyers can be when they play with aggression and momentum, but the ride wasn’t as smooth as it should have been.
It was inevitable that the Sabers were going to score. Buffalo isn’t a pushover, this is a franchise that is supposed to be on its way to turning a new leaf. This is a team that was built to make it deep into May with the goal being the first week in June, so yes it was just a matter of time before Andrej Sekera banked the biscuit off of the boards and past Bryzgalov.
It gave the Flyers a wake up call because in this new NHL a three goal lead is as good as a one goal lead, but the Flyers were never able to regain that momentum that they grabbed to begin the game, in fact they never even came close.
When you reach the top of the roller coaster there is only one place to go and that is down, it might be a gradual drop or it might be one that is so violent that it makes you remember the Cheesesteak that you ate for lunch. Last night the drop was almost to the point where I remembered what I had for lunch .
The drop began with the Jaromir Jagr holding penalty just 1:40 into the 2nd period. You see this is a common theme for the Flyers. Once the second period begins it is almost as if the penalty box is subconsciously calling their names. Come to me… Jagr, Timonen, Voracek, Rinaldo, but before Rinaldo could get there he was called by another part of the building known as the locker room for a misconduct.
It was no secret as to why Buffalo out shot Philadelphia 15-5 in the second frame. Over a quarter of the period was dedicated to killing the power play and while the Flyers are smack dab in the middle of the league with an 83.1% kill rate, those three penalties provided a 100% kill rate on overall momentum.
The third period was just as bad number wise, the only reason that it gets a pass is because for how many penalties the Flyers racked up, the Sabers would rack up offsetting minors. The Sabers did out shoot the Flyers 8-7 in the final period due to a combination of an empty net and a Nodl elbowing penalty in the last 30 seconds of the game.
Sabers backup goalie Jhonas Enroth never had to face a stretch that would be considered dangerous in the 2nd period. The same can be said for the third minus a stretch mid way through the period when both Hartnell and Couturier got a good shot off on him.
It is impossible to keep up the momentum that the Flyers began the game with, but it is not impossible to make the commentators, even the opposing team’s building remember why that 3-0 lead was built. Much of the blame in Buffalo will come straight back to Ryan Miller and yes he has shown signs of Roberto Luongo syndrome, but it was the Flyers unrelenting pressure that caused Miller to be pulled. Sadly that won’t be the focus of this game, because of the next 53 minutes that followed those first six.
It was a good win and I’m not trying to take anything away from that, but it should have been a dominating win, not one where the Flyers just held on for the two points.
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