They’ve won four straight in South Philly, but the injuries are piling up.
Results this week: Panthers 2, Flyers 1; Flyers 4, Oilers 1; Flyers 4, Panthers 1
Current record: 6-5-2, 14 points
Record at this point last year: 4-9-0, 8 points
Upcoming schedule: Nov 8 vs Avalanche
Kimmo Timonen, Andrew MacDonald, Braydon Coburn, Vinny Lecavalier, now Michael Raffl. Each man has missed or will miss significant time with an injury, yet the Flyers keep grinding out wins.
Another Tim Peel game. Twelve penalties were called, the Flyers couldn’t solve Luongo for virtually the entire game, Rinaldo got called for embellishment that looked a lot like, well, not embellishment… it was just one of those nights that wasn’t going to be your night. The Panthers scored nine minutes in on a Willie Mitchell slapper with a ton of traffic in front and would carry that 1-0 lead into the third period, when rookie Aaron Ekblad scored his first on the power play on a similar play (blue line slapper, lots of traffic) that somehow found its way to the back of the net to beat Steve Mason. The orange and black generated 37 shots but couldn’t solve Luongo until Vincent Lecavalier scored with eight seconds left in the game. This was an ugly game that saw Luongo and Mason (28 saves on 30 shots) both play well, but in the end, the Panthers left with the two points. The Flyers garnered no points in Florida as they lost to the Lightning in the game prior to this one.
Back home in the comfy confines of South Philadelphia, the Flyers faced an Edmonton team that sat at the bottom of the Pacific division rankings, and they didn’t take long to set out to do what they had to do. The red-hot Jake Voracek scored four minutes in on a sweet wraparound from the back of the net, fooling Viktor Fasth into sealing the wrong post and going around the other side for the easy finish. After hitting the post on a backhand in front of the net, Voracek scored again from Del Zotto and Giroux from close range to beat Fasth again and make it 2-0.
In the second period, Bellemare scored on a greasy redirection from in close to make it 3-0 with four minutes gone. Halfway through the period, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins showed why he’s such a special player, taking a tip pass at his own blueline and absolutely blowing by Rinaldo and then Streit along the boards, then putting a move on Mason for a slick finish to cut the lead to 3-1. A couple minutes later though, Brayden Schenn would dig a puck out while on his knees and find his brother Luke near the net, setting Luke up for his first goal of the season and making it 4-1 Flyers, and that’s how it ended.
The Flyers were outshot 36-25 but kept a lot of the shots to the perimeter, and Mason was equal to all of the real testers they put on him, making 35 saves for his first win of the year.
Completing one of several stretches where they face the same team twice in three games, the Flyers were back up against the Panthers team who had beaten them five days ago. Before this game the team learned Michael Raffl would miss six weeks with a lower body injury, which saw Chris VandeVelde get a shot on the top line of Giroux and Voracek.
The orange and black got out to a quick start as Couturier scored on a nifty redirect following a play that found him knocked to the ice just four minutes in. Michael Del Zotto would get his first a couple minutes later, joining on a rush and beating Roberto Luongo cleanly with a wrister off of a Brayden Schenn pass to make it 2-0. That would be all of the scoring in the first period, as the Flyers carried play for most of it and carried a 2-0 lead into the second.
The second period was messy. Bellemare scored on a play where he skated to the corner, pasted Florida defenseman Dmitry Kulikov against the boards, then skated to the front of the net to retrieve a puck new Flyers defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo almost completely whiffed on and was just drifting to the center of the ice, firing a turnaround shot past Luongo to make it 3-0. For the most part, Florida had a ton of chances due to poor play in the Flyers end, but Mason was again equal to the test, ultimately stopping 34 shots. Florida eventually got on the board when Nick Bjugstad scored the first power play goal against the Flyers in Philly this year to narrow the margin to 3-1, but 39 seconds later, Giroux would find Voracek on a two-on-one and Voracek would slide the puck into the gaping net to give the orange and black a 4-1 lead.
The third period felt like the Flyers parked the bus and just let Florida come at them, although the Philly boys had chances here and there. It felt like Florida carried play for much of the period but again couldn’t solve Steve Mason as the game ended 4-1.
-It’s good to see Steve Mason finally get into the win column. He’s played well for longer than a lot of people give him credit for this year and now it’s starting to show in his stats.
-Jake Voracek has taken up residence behind the net and is doing a tremendous amount of damage in that position. As this is being written, he is tied for the NHL lead in points scored. He has a point in every game except the Blackhawks game, where the Flyers were shut out.
-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare is really, really hard to take off of the puck. At times he reminds me of Jagr in that respect.
-The top line ended the game Simmonds-Giroux-Voracek. I can’t see it staying like that with Berube liking to balance the lines, but it was good to see that he’d consider putting together what we all regarded as the best possible line.
-There was an odd play in the Edmonton game where Oiler Martin Marincin skated up behind Wayne Simmonds, hit his head off of Simmonds’ static elbow, and fell to the ice, and Simmonds got called for elbowing. Simmonds never moved his elbow and didn’t even know Marincin was there. Nothing came of it, but it was yet another reminder of the truly shaky officiating we’ve seen so far this year: pucks being blown dead while obviously loose, weak penalties being called, you name it. The NHL has to cringe when they see some of these, right? Right?
-I don’t agree with calling embellishment in conjunction with another penalty to take both players off. If you want to take embellishment out of the game, you call it alone; take away a team’s power play and make THEM play on the penalty kill instead of giving them 4-on-4 hockey. Players dive, snap their head back at little to no stick contact, and perform other such shenanigans for the same reason basketball players flop and soccer players fall down; because IT WORKS. It gains them a competitive advantage. If you penalize them for it (even at the risk of ignoring a legitimate but non-dangerous penalty) then they will stop. Call what you see, not how they react to what they want you to “see”.
-Zac Rinaldo can apparently play some real hockey, including being effective on the penalty kill. Who knew?
-The Flyers wore camouflage uniforms in warmups tonight which they then gave to active military personnel for Military Appreciation Night.
-Michael Del Zotto has been generally very good. Aside from a couple mishandles of the puck in his own zone, he’s been a real positive signing so far.
-God Bless America was sung tonight instead of the national anthem, but with a twist: Lauren Hart did NOT sing the duet with Kate Smith on the video board. I’m of two minds about this; Lauren Hart has an incredible voice and it lets us hear her more, but damn, Katie Smith is a Flyers institution. Has been for decades. There’s a STATUE of her outside the Wells Fargo Center for crying out loud. Don’t let this be the end of Kate.
-I have to laugh at the uproar about sponsored jerseys. It’s happening folks. As a man who owns multiple Philadelphia Union kits with Mexican bakery Bimbo plastered across the front, it’s surprising it’s taken this long. When the biggest sport in the world has been doing something to collect millions a year in extra revenue for years, other sports tend to think “hey we could be doing that too”. Remember, sports are about love and passion to the people buying the tickets, but to people selling the tickets, sports are about making money. Full stop.
The Best of Flyers Twitter:
-Flyers beat writer Dave Isaac sums up what a lot of us thought when we heard Marc-Andre Fleury re-upped with the Pens.
-Last but not least, the Flyers got pranked by the “snake in the cooler” bit for Halloween. Good fun, good fun!