Monday, April 1, 2013

Weekend Sweep: Flyers

On this back to back game weekend, just having beat the Bruins Saturday and facing off with the Capitals yesterday the Flyers were aiming for a weekend sweep.  This is the third and final meeting between the Capitals and the Flyers in the regular season. The starting line up for the Flyers was: Simmonds, Schenn, Hartnell; Schenn, Lauridsen Bryzgalov. Within the first minute of play the Capitals score taking the 1-0 over the Flyers. Then ten minutes into play, still no attempts from the Flyers, with the Capitals dominating the first period Tabolt was able to cut one lose to the back of the net tying the game 1-1. Kimmo Timonen had made a great tactical play, bouncing the puck off the wall then the puck redirected by Rinaldo to Talbot for the score. Capitals take a 5-3 power play when Giroux gets sent to the box for face off violations and Simmonds, who clearly gets pushed into the goalie, gets called for goalie interference. Everyone but the refs saw Simmonds get pushed but the Flyers fend off the Capitals during the 2 man advantage. Great power penalty kill by the Flyers, it built energy to the game. Nearing the end of the first period and the Flyers were still battling for puck possession, Read catches a pass and takes a one on one to the net against the goaltender securing a lead for the Flyers 2-1 in the first period. Flyers had a slow start to the first period but ended with a 1 point lead over the Capitals. The Capitals put the Flyers power play streak to bed and stopped it at 5, as the Flyers were unsuccessfully in scoring during power plays against the Capitals. The Capitals tail the Flyers as 2nd in the league for power play goals, and power plays were rough for the Flyers. The second period was uneventful, with a back and forth between the two teams throughout most of the period. At the end of the second period Green tied up the game for the Capitals 2-2. Going into the third period, the Flyers have a 1-6 record when being tied after two periods, but that did not stop Giroux from pulling this team through. After several bad penalties in the 3rd period, it seemed as though this team was falling apart, culminating at the moment when Bryzglov threw his water bottle after missing a block which gave the Capitals a 2 point lead. Just when it seemed like the game was over, as the Capitals had a 4-2 lead, Giroux took control as Captain; finally showing the leadership expected of him on the ice. With 10 minutes left in regulation, the Flyers had the puck and had to get it into the Capitals zone quickly to bridge the 2 point lead. A power play gave Giroux the opportunity he needed to level the game 4-3, giving hope to his team. With 9.8 seconds left in the game and an empty net for the Flyers, they pushed hard against the Capitals to tie the game and they did. The game goes into over time and Fedetanko secures the win and 2 more points for the Flyers, 5-4 win.
If it wasn’t for Giroux this would have been another loss. This team still does not play well with a lead and they do not play well under adversity. There were many mistakes that plagued the Flyers: their slow start in the first period, puck turn over and numerous bad penalties in the third that almost cost them the game. As soon as the Captials had their two point lead it seemed as if they were going to run away with the game but the Flyers made a dramatic come back in the last ten minutes. Timonen and Giroux really stepped up their leadership in this game, making big play after big play, covering up mistake after mistake. Rinaldo was not giving up on the hits; he said “I will keep the hits rolling” For a team that is down big names due to injuries the Flyers tried to fill the gap. Talbot suffered a lower body injury from this game and might be added to the list of injuries for the season.  Max Talbot is one of the biggest power play killers for the team, there is no report on his injury but the Flyers said he was not cut on the play. Giroux’s post game comments on his teammate were, "He [Talbot] has a big role on the team, and obviously the other guys will have to step up," The Flyers have lost three defensemen -Grossmann, Meszaros, and Coburn to injuries and forwards Talbot and Briere. They also have lost forwards Talbot and Danny Briere (concussion). Matt Read had another great score for the team, giving him back to back score in the past 2 games. In the old man club, Hartnell  made an appearance but didn’t provide much of anything, his game isn’t consistent but it was great to see Knuble back in the line up for a third game. Shame of the game goes to Jakub Voracek for the fight he dominated after his Captain Giroux took a hit, which put Voracek in the box for 4 minutes giving the Capitals opportune time to take home 2 goals putting the score at 4-2. Giroux can certainly take a hit and does not need reckless behavior that might costs the team a win. Consequently this incident shook the whole team, it was evident the team was disjointed and even Bryzgalvo lashed out with his frustrations after missing two blocks during the power play. That fight sends a warning to everyone in the league, don’t fight Voracek, he will dominate you. Voracek needs to take a not from Luke Schenn who knows shake it off and not give power plays away. This and the past two games solidify the spring board for the Flyers and could take them right to the play offs. The Flyers claim the 12th seed as they inch closer to the play offs. The Flyers will have to fix some of their flaws before they face off against the Canadiens on Wednesday. They will be looking to Bryzgalov to be their MVP for the remainder of the season. With the combination of these players: (forwards) Read, Fedetanko, Knuble, Giroux, B. Schenn, Rinaldo, Talbot and (defensemen) L. Schenn, Timonen, and Lauridsen the season looks promising. Now it’s up to Laviolette to play his cards right. A weak performance against the Canadiens is not going to produce as lucky of an outcome as last night.

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