Saturday afternoon I attended the Philadelphia Flyers game against the Edmonton Oilers. I never tire of going to games because attending a game offers a unique perspective television cannot give me. One, the atmosphere of the game grabs you and does not let go. Two, I can see the whole ice as the play develops. When I watch a broadcasted game, my vision is locked onto the puck carrier most times because the screen can only provide so much.
At the games, all 200 feet are available. While Saturday afternoon’s 4-2 win felt good and watching Claude Giroux score his first goal in 22 games felt amazing, let us not get ahead of ourselves. The Oilers are the worst defensive team in the National Hockey League and are struggling to score goals like the Flyers. There were many positives and negatives to take away from this game. Here are a few that stood out to me:
-Claude Giroux is destined to break out of this slump. Big time. He has so many chances but could not break through. Before Giroux slipped one past Devan Dubnyk in the third period, he has two other opportunities and just flat out missed. I will give Dubnyk credit for making some great saves, but if Giroux was not in a goalless drought, he may have had two goals.
—Giroux puts one wide at point blank.
—Dubnyk makes two incredible saves on Giroux.
-Droughts are all mental. When a player cannot seem to find the back of the net, he overthinks. When he overthinks, he tries too hard to break the slump as soon as possible. It is very similar to quicksand (H/T to Shane Falco). Now that Giroux has a goal to his name, he should play more at ease but that is not guaranteed. Giroux is a great playmaker, but sometimes he needs to be selfish and shoot the puck. Steven Stamkos, Alexander Steen and Alex Ovechkin lead the league in goals because they shoot the puck.
—–Stamkos (14 G, 58 S)
—–Steen (14 G, 52 S)
—–Ovechkin (13 G , 87 S)
—–Giroux (1 G, 35 S)
-Mark Streit had a hell of a game. His two assists were b-e-a-utiful. Streit also had some good defensive work. There was a point in the game where he had lost the puck in his own zone, but had the presence of mind to pin the closest forward to the boards so he could not get a free lane to the loose puck.
-This team, as a whole, needs to stop standing around. Too many times I found myself saying, “Move your damn feet.” I cannot even begin to count how many times I saw our own players standing in the neutral zone waiting for the puck to come to them. (Can Berube please abandon dump and chase?!)
-Speaking of standing around, Luke Schenn must have had concrete in his skates because he might have moved three inches during this goal. While Giroux did turn the puck over, Schenn broke one of the cardinal rules of defensemen: always have the head on a swivel. If Schenn takes a peak in both directions, he picks up Perron, and the Oilers go into the first intermission down 2-0.
-This game could give the Flyers some momentum going into a tough three-game road stretch where they will play the Ottawa Senators (7-6-4), Pittsburgh Penguins (11-6-0) and the Winnipeg Jets (7-9-2).