Sunday, March 31, 2013

Playing the whole 60 minutes: Flyers

The Flyers went into this match-up defensively depleted against a team that is in competition with other playoff contenders. As underdogs, the Flyers had a lot of work to do. They knew what had to be done and in an upset they finally played the whole 60 minutes. Lauridsen had a successful debut with the Flyers, getting a penalty during the first minute of play but then never shying away from getting in the action. The Flyers, 7th ranked in the league for penalty kills, did a good job of killing off their first penalty. The power play against the Flyers, a crucial do or die moment in the game, letting the Bruins get on the score board so early in the first period would have been a death sentence. The Bruins maintained control during the first period until Chara was sent to the penalty box; the leagues best power play was matched against the leagues best penalty killers and the Flyers took this opportunity to score by Knuble. Chara being off the ice during the power play was a key element in being able to take an early lead in this game for the Flyers, as it is so hard to score while Chara is dominating the ice. Early in the second period the Flyers came back strong with another goal, they were winning puck battles and scoring opportunities. On paper, the Flyers had the opportunity to compete, it was a matter of them grasping that opportunity and exploiting weaknesses. Nathan Horton (Bruins) was in the right place at the right time, when a rebound came right to him and he scored on the Flyers, cutting the lead in half, 2-1 during the second period.  The fear in every fans mind at that moment was, "oh no a repeat of Thursday" where the Flyers had a 2 point lead and lost it in the third period. Fortunately, that would not be the outcome of the game. Although the Bruins came into the third with more energy, they didn’t produce.  The Flyers took out an insurance policy on their lead by firing a puck into an empty Bruins net during the last minutes of play, winning the game 3-1.
This win breaks the losing streak of the Flyers; with a restored confidence this team still has a difficult schedule ahead of them. It was obvious that the Flyers had built upon their successes from Thursday night and had brought 60 minutes of play onto the ice yesterday. The Flyers demonstrated great plays from Simmonds, hard hits from Rinaldo, scores from Knuble, Read and Fedotenko and impressive saves by Bryzgalvo. Coach Laviolette realized the importance of playing Knuble on Thursday, another good call, as Knuble made the first goal of the game again last night. Knuble is demonstrating leadership at the net by taking opportunities and turning them into points. The Flyers chance of the playoffs might have already past but a strong finish to this rough season looks possible, if not promising after the Flyers come back.  The Flyers need to go with the momentum they built in this game and continue it through the rest of the season, with just 14 games left the Flyers need to show up for 60 minutes at each game. Post game Knuble said:
"You feel good about it, but then you're frustrated too because that's an upper-echelon team in our league and you ask yourselves, 'Why don't you do it more often? Why doesn't it happen more often? You make the commitment right from the start and everybody was on board today."
If the Flyers can beat the Bruins, #4 in the conference, will the Flyers also show up against the #11 Capitals tonight? The Flyers remain 5 points away from a play off slot, with 14 games remaining. Rest up boys, we’re taking on #2 the Canadiens Wednesday followed by the #6 Maples Leafs on Thursday. The Flyers need to take the road back to play offs game by game; they could rise from the ashes, if they have the determination and discipline. The win from last night was short lived, as the Flyers go up against the #11 Capitals tonight. The team still has much work to do before their challenging matchups later this week. They need to work on their awareness, cover players in their own zone and get their second man into the offensive zone even quicker and work on their shoots if they look to win more points later this week.
Good job boys you played 60 minutes! Throw back another 5 hour energy and do it again tonight!

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