Most Philadelphia Flyers fans are aware of just how tough the rest of the schedule is for this team. Last night was their chance to grab 2 points against what might be arguably their weakest opponent going forward. What transpired last night was exactly what has become the norm when these two teams meet, a tough defensive-minded slug fest that saw the New Jersey Devils win 2-1. The result wasn’t without controversy but I’ll get into that a little later into the recap.
For whatever reason when the Flyers face the Devils they just can’t find the back of the net. The last time the Flyers scored 3 goals against the Devils in regulation was February 15th back in 2013. In addition, they have only scored 8 goals against the Devils in their last 7 meetings. Before, you could account for these low scoring games because the Devils have Martin Brodeur in net but at the age of 41, time has finally caught up with him. He’s currently sporting a save percentage of only .901% this season and a 2.49 GAA which is his highest total since 2005-06.
Last night though Martin Brodeur wasn’t tasked with making any miraculous saves, the Flyers offense just looked flat. The first period they were out shot 13-6 and it seemed like the Devils were camped out in the Flyers offensive zone. The Flyers turned up the pressure in the 2nd and 3rd, out shooting the Devils 25-13 but the only Flyer to get a shot past Brodeur was Nicklas Grossmann. You’d figure when a guy who hadn’t scored a goal in 75 games it would be a good team omen. It was not.
Now, let’s talk about the power play. The Flyers were given 6 chances last night on the man advantage but could not come up with a goal. They only mustered 9 shots on the power play with their best chances coming in the 3rd period. But much like their even strength chances, the Flyers couldn’t really get into a rhythm and at times it seemed the Flyers were skating in concrete. There was one instance in which four Flyers all stood at the Devils blue line while they watched Claude Giroux try to get the puck into the zone. Unsurprisingly this tactic didn’t work and the Devils cleared their zone rather effortlessly.
The last couple of games I’ve been giving Steve Downie a lot crap on Twitter but his line, along with Sean Couturier and Matt Read were the best pairing of Flyers on the ice tonight. They were able to draw two penalties and played sound defensively. They placed 2nd (Couturier), 4th (Downie) and 5th (Read) on the Flyers last night in CF% but like the rest of the Flyers couldn’t turn their chances into goals.
At the onset of this piece I said that the game finished controversially so I’ll show you the play in question and feel free to leave some feedback in the comments below.
Watching here at my apartment I thought the call was BS and still kinda do, but I can see why the refs made the call they did. Even if you think Anton Volchenkov pushed Scott Hartnell into Brodeur leading to incidental contact, Hartnell was still on his way to barreling into him even without the defenseman’s help. That’s apparently what the refs saw and the reason why the play was blown dead. Where I really have a bone to pick with the NHL is the fact that the play is not reviewable. Here’s the quote from NHL.com’s Situation Room Blog.
“Apparent goals shall be disallowed by the Referee when a goaltender has been pushed into the net together with the puck after making a save.” This is not a reviewable play therefore the referee’s call on the ice stands – no penalty and no goal Philadelphia.
Huh? I guess the guys in Toronto couldn’t make a more accurate call even though they have access to frame by frame replays? Got it. This rule is dumb.
The Flyers play the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday night. Hopefully they play better than they did tonight or we might be hearing the Crosby more than we’d like.
As always, please send all your hate mail to bear[dot]canney[at]gmail[dot]com and your angry tweets to @BcanneyBSB.
GIF via the guys at Section 215.