All signs were pointing towards another disappointing home game for the Philadelphia Flyers after the Buffalo Sabres jumped out to two goal lead just halfway through the first period. Yet again the home team came out with a lackluster effort in their first game since last weekend’s debacles against the Rangers and Red Wings.
Before the awful first period took place; the pre game warm ups featured a little bit more blood than usual as forward Wayne Simmonds was struck in the mouth by a puck and had to miss his first shift of the game while his lips were stitched up. He wore a full facial shield for the game and perhaps after this game he’ll opt to wear it again because his two second period goals were instrumental in giving the Flyers momentum for good.
Yes the first period was a mess, the defense once again was lackluster as Jason Pominville was left wide open to slam a Tyler Myers one time pass into an open net. Then just over four minutes later it was Bryzgalov’s turn to give up a weak goal to Thomas Vanek that left Laviolette fuming on the bench. Who knows what was said to the team in the locker room during the first intermission, but it had to be something along the lines of you guys are a lot f*ck!ng better than this mediocre Buffalo team because the second period was dominated by the Flyers, a team that is being bitten by the injury bug.
Jaromir Jagr missed the game with the flu, probably the same one that kept Bryzgalov out last week. Andrej Meszaros was a late scratch with an upper body injury. Danny Briere left the game with an upper body injury after a hit against the boards was delivered by Patrick Kaleta. Tom Sestito left the game with a lower body injury, (seriously enough with the upper and lower body injuries), after a fight against Zack Kassian. It looked like Sestito didn’t know where he was after the fight.
So here is the current injury list for the Flyers: Betts (hasn’t played all season) Pronger (done for the year), van Reimsdyk (hasn’t played since Jan 12th with a concussion), Briere (hit looked nasty could miss some time), Jagr (flu, should be back Saturday), Sestito (looks like Shelley is going to have to go back to the “tough guy” role).
Is your head spinning yet?
Alright enough with the injuries, this was the best the Flyers have looked since they whooped up on the Wild back in January. There were seven unanswered goals scored tonight after the Sabres jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first. The scoring buffet began just 54 seconds into the second period.
First it was Maxime Talbot who deflected a Brayden Coburn shot past a vulnerable Jhonas Enroth, who hadn’t started since a January 18th matchup against the Blackhawks.
After the Talbot goal, Simmonds scored back to back power play goals that were mirror images of each other, further establishing the fact that Simmonds’ cubicle is in front of the net. Briere doesn’t have to worry about someone else making his office behind the net smaller. Those two goals would give the Flyers the lead for good, but the scoring was far from over.
Ryan Miller relieved Enroth, but that didn’t make the slightest bit of a difference as Erik Gustafsson scored the fourth goal of the period, his first NHL goal, with the beautiful assist coming from Jakub Vorachek. Gustafsson just flat out beat Miller on a high blocker side shot that was not going to be stopped.
Buffalo had their chances at the end of the second period, but the Flyers were able to maintain the two goal lead going into the intermission, but it didn’t really matter because early on in the third Talbot scored his second of the night, then Vorachek and Hartnell joined the scoring party.
In the end the Flyers scored seven unanswered goals. Eleven different players finished with a point, but it was Giroux and Harnell that raked it in tonight.
Giroux registered five assists inserting himself right back into the Art Ross Trophy race. He currently has 67 points, just two back of Penguins center Evgeni Malkin. Scott Hartnell is very close to entering the top ten in points as his goal and three assists tonight put him at 58 for the season.
The offense was the key to the victory tonight, but finally the penalty kill had the identity that was sorely missed for the past week. The aggression was there, blocking shots once again seemed like a priority, all in all the Flyers were a perfect 5 for 5 on the pk against a very average power play.
While the penalty kill looked good, the defense still needs to sharpen up if this team is going to be taken seriously as a title contender and the addition of defenseman Nicklas Grossman will help round out what should be a strong defensive unit. He is a big stay at home defender that the Flyers desperately need right now.
This is the type of effort that the Philadelphia faithful have been waiting to see, but this was a must win game with the Penguins coming into town for a Saturday matinee. That game could very well be a preview of a first round playoff matchup and is the final game before the Flyers hit the road for a four game trip.
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