We Went Streaking!

Results this week: Flyers 4, Red Wings 2; Flyers 3, Kings 2 (OT); Lightning 4, Flyers 3

Current record: 4-4-2, 10 points

Record at this point last year: 3-7-0, 6 points

Upcoming schedule: Nov 1 at Panthers, Nov 4 vs Oilers, Nov 6 vs Panthers

“OK, we won a game yesterday. If we win today, it’s called “two in a row”. And if we win again tomorrow, it’s called a “winning streak”. It has happened before!” –Lou Brown in “Major League”

Supported by goals from the likes of Michael Raffl, Brayden Schenn, Chris VandeVelde and Nick Grossman, backstopped by their aging backup goalie, and carried bravely forward by a defense corps gamely held together by duct tape, paper clips, and chewed bubble gum, the Flyers have won three of their last four against quality teams, gaining valuable points early in the season against tough competition.

Detroit:  By all accounts, this is a game the orange and black should have lost and lost handily, but weird stuff happens in hockey.  The Red Wings outshot the Flyers 24-8 in the first two periods and yet the score was tied 1-1, thanks to the one goal Nick Grossmann will score this year and some savvy play by Ray Emery.  Near the end of the second period, Grossmann saw the play develop, saw the opening in front of the net (as we wondered if he was, you know, allowed down there), drove (well, moved as fast as a man whose skating was recently characterized by a scout as “trying to turn around a battleship” can skate) the net, somehow received a pass from Chris VandeVelde (more on him later) and put it home cleanly. The whole sequence was like watching Rocky ride down Broad on a unicorn, like we’d witnessed something we would never ever see again.

Six minutes into the third, Michael Raffl scored his third of the year, giving the Flyers a 2-1 lead, but they gave the goal right back 42 seconds later when they left Pavel freakin’ Datsyuk alone in front of the net. Halfway into the period, Giroux forced Kronwall to take a holding penalty, and the Flyers scored on the ensuing power play with Brayden Schenn scoring with assists by Voracek and Streit.  It stayed that way until Raffl potted an empty-netter, and the Flyers would win a game they had no business winning, 4-2.

Emery was stellar, stopping 35 of 37 shots and causing the typical chatter of “he’s our number one now, we have a goalie controversy, Mason’s confidence is shattered, etc etc” that happens pretty much every year in Philly.  Yet, this was the exact reason Hextall re-upped Emery; he knows his role on the team, knows Mason is the guy, and just wants to help the team and get Steve back on track.  Ron commented on Emery during the pre-season (starts at 0:54 into the clip) and mentioned that having discord between the goalies can tear apart a locker room and one of the reasons he signed Emery was because the dynamic was good between him and Mason. Emery for his part took 650K less than he made last year to come back to Philly for another year; he’s making a million now as opposed to the 1.65M deal he signed last year. This is already looking like an underrated signing that is already paying off for everyone involved.

As for Mason’s confidence being shattered, well, he commented that the difference between Columbus and now is he feels the organization here has his back, and that makes a huge difference.  It’s a long season.  He’ll be just fine.

Los Angeles:

Carter! Richards! Williams! John Stevens!  Old home week!

As the Flyers continued this brutal stretch in their schedule, something curious happened in the first period of the Kings game; they played well.  They controlled the puck, got shots in on Quick, and Michael Raffl yet again put one home from G and Jake, this time to open the scoring.  They continued to carry play and at one point Jason Akeson hit the crossbar, had the puck bounce straight up and nearly go in on a 2-on-1 rush, but later the Kings struck on a penalty kill of theirs when a bouncing puck jumped over Del Zotto’s stick at the point and Tyler Toffoli retrieved it, putting a pretty move on Emery to even it up at a goal apiece.  It felt like a game we should be winning 2-0 or 3-0 with how well we’d been playing.  With less than a minute left, Chris VandeVelde scored with a shot in the slot after being fed by Jake from behind the net and the Flyers had a 2-1 lead.

The second period was more tilted towards the Kings but Emery kept the Flyers in it, stopping all ten LA shots to keep the score at 2-1.  The third was frantic as the two teams combined for 29 shots and no penalties.  Five minutes in, Mike Richards put one home on a scramble play to make it 2-2.  Jake Voracek had Quick beat with a shot that hit the post with around seven minutes left, and that’s the line that would take the two sides into overtime.

Halfway into the overtime, the Flyers sprung Brayden Schenn on a breakaway and all hell broke loose; Schenn put a pretty move on Quick (thanks to SBNation for the GIFs) and Quick stopped it (kind of) but kept drifting back into his net with the puck, which went over the goal line.  Brayden was celebrating like a little kid, the ref was waving the goal off, Doughty came over to tell Schenn no goal and Schenn hits him… and then the refs reviewed it and said no, Schenn did not interfere with Quick or push him into the net, and yes, it was a goal.  And then Jonathan Quick (who we decided was the current goalie most likely to gain thirty pounds and become Martin Brodeur) lost his cot damn mind, breaking his stick and throwing it at the refs who just made the decision and earning a ten minute misconduct in the process.

WINNER.  The streak is at three!

Tampa Bay:

This had all the markings of a letdown game, coming off a thrilling win against the Cup champs and going into a building in Tampa where they haven’t won in a really long time against a good Lightning team.  The game didn’t play out the way it perhaps should have, though (although it rarely does).

The Flyers gave up the first goal early, a marker to Vladislav Namestnikov, making it the eighth time in ten games they’ve put themselves behind 1-0.  Nine minutes later Wayne Simmonds potted one from his office in front of the goal on a rebound and it was tied.  This game to this point felt like the Red Wings game, where the Flyers played badly for stretches and Emery kept them in it, but if they could just get some more pucks on goal, they could make things happen.

Then Tim Peel happened.

We didn’t hear his name in the first period because there were no penalties called, and so we didn’t know who was working the game, which is very important to Tim Peel.  He is to hockey what Joe West is to baseball, what Ed Hochuli is to football; someone who seems to use the game to call attention to themselves and what a magnificent job they think they are doing (which usually isn’t magnificent at all).  When national writers apologize for him working your team’s game, that says nearly everything you need to know.

The Flyers in one period went from being the second least-penalized team in the league to becoming the 1975 Flyers and taking FIVE minor penalties in the space of twelve minutes and seven in the game: the Giroux holding the stick minor on a power play (which video showed no evidence of and which was fabricated so as to not give the Flyers a 5-on-3 due to a concurrent minor committed by Brian Boyle against Giroux), Sean Couturier’s high stick on Stamkos (barely touched him), Chris VandeVelde tripping goalie Ben Bishop (okay this one was actually legit although the contact was minimal), Luke Schenn hooking on Namestnikov (what?) and Zac Rinaldo roughing against Brian Boyle (now this is getting out of hand).  There were nine minor penalties called in the second period and eleven in the game.

As for the scoring?  Tampa kept getting power plays and when you have someone like Stamkos on your team, it’s only a matter of time before power plays become goals.  Stamkos put one home on a power play in the dying moments of the second period, giving the Lightning a lead they would never relinquish.  He added another five minutes into the third period but Jake Voracek pulled one back a minute later to make it 3-2 and keep the Flyers alive.  Eight minutes later though, the Flyers were called on a very questionable too many men penalty (Bellemare could have done a little more to get over the boards to the bench in a hurry but it wasn’t a call that needed to be made) and Tampa converted the ensuing power play, Jason Garrison putting one past Emery from Stamkos and Valltteri Filppula.  With the goalie pulled, Michael Raffl continued to be red hot and scored to narrow it to 4-3.  The Flyers had a couple great chances to tie it with fifteen seconds left, but couldn’t get the equalizer and lost to Tampa Bay and Tim Peel, 4-3.

Other Observations:

-Bellemare watch: currently skating through opposing teams like orange road cones and growing a killer 5-0 mustache.  It’s been fun watching him grow into the NHL game.  He could have done more to avoid that too many men penalty vs the Lightning, though.

-How many teams would love to have a backup like Ray Emery?

-So Ron Hextall, against his plan, called up Shayne Gostisbehere for two games, citing the need to stay competitive.  Gostisbehere wasn’t bad and showed flashes of what we could expect to see: great puck movement (with passes so accurate and hard Couturier and Simmonds took turns at being unable to corral them), great skating, and some growing pains.  He was scratched vs the Lightning after playing against Detroit and LA and will probably be sent back to the AHL after the Flyers called up and played Brandon Manning and signed UFA defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo to a one year deal. Carlo last played for the Blues last year.

-I wanted three points out of these three games.  They got four, the hell that was the October schedule is over, and now they can look into November knowing maybe the toughest stretch for a while is behind them.

-Can we just forget that I beefed about Raffl being on the first line?  He’s looked pretty good there lately.  Jake’s even said Raffl could be a 30 goal scorer with how he shoots.  Slow down there, Jake, baby steps; he scored nine last year in 68 games.  He’s got six this year so far.  Let’s get to fifteen and see how we’re doing, eh?

-Raffl had a couple A quality short-handed chances vs Tampa but strong backchecking and Ben Bishop were up to the task.

-Another man who has been a house afire is the aforementioned Jake Voracek.  That top line is clicking right now, with G taking his preferred role as facilitator and Voracek and Raffl doing the scoring.  Jake’s got 15 points in 10 games to start the year, two ahead of Giroux for the team lead.

-Eventually, giving up the first goal in nearly every game is going to come back to hurt the Flyers.  Starting better is something they need to focus on.  A great team only needs one goal to bury you, which is something they found out in Chicago, where they were outclassed and outmatched in almost every department.

-Don’t put too much stock into the loss in Tampa Bay.  It was a very poorly-officiated game that saw the Flyers play progressively better at even strength as the game progressed.  The problem was the officiating simply forbade them to be at even strength after the first period.

-It was good to see the Flyers rattle off three wins against quality teams.  Now to see how they play against less impressive sides; do they continue the level of play that lets them beat almost anyone, or do they play down to their competition?  Let’s find out.

The Best of Flyers Twitter:

Big Sammy Carchidi (@BroadStBullshit)

10/28/14, 8:00 PM

Games are 60 mins not 20. That 1st period is like being the tallest midget at a midget convention. 60 or you can’t get on the rollercoaster

-Anything by @FlyGoalScoredBy

-From Carly (@nuclearcarly)

I agree with Carly.  Why discuss expansion when you have teams playing in empty barns every game?  Fix what you have first.

-From Steph (@writeonsteph)

Okay so it’s not exactly hockey-related but you probably laughed.  Canadians are awesome, by the way.

Philadelphia Flyera (@NHLFlyera)

03:23 PM – 24 Oct 14
“I have basically zero interest in (Buffalo Sabres defenseman) Tyler Myers and I’d rather have the flyers trade for an actual buffalo that just stands at the blue line”

That’s all I’ve got for now.  Follow me @loqiel on Twitter and feel free to chat.  Catch you next Friday!

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