Secondary Scoring is a Primary Concern

The Flyers’ secondary scoring is coming alive at the right time.

Results this week: Flyers 2, Kings 1; Blue Jackets 3, Flyers 2 (OT); Flyers 4, Devils 1

Current record: 10-13-5, 25 points

Record at this point last year: 13-13-2, 28 points

Upcoming schedule: Dec 13 vs Hurricanes, Dec 16 vs Lightning, Dec 18 vs Panthers

It’s great to have one line that’s completely stacked and nearly unstoppable, but unless the other lines contribute, you’re not going to win a lot of games.  On the road especially when teams can play matchups against you, it’s important to have balanced scoring up and down your lineup.  Matt Read, Sean Couturier, and Wayne Simmonds have started to get hot to complement Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek; Simmonds has had game-changing goals in the last four or five games, and Coots/Read combined for two against the Devils alone.  Coupled with good goaltender play, the Flyers are getting better results, garnering precious points in their last four games (two wins, two overtime losses).

First they went into LA and beat the defending Stanley Cup champs 2-1 despite getting only sixteen shots to Quick.  Mason made 37 of 38 saves and played outstanding yet again.  Then they went into Columbus for the last game of their road trip and lost 3-2, but what a crazy loss it was.  The Blue Jackets swarmed the Flyers and carried play. The Flyers PK was again putrid, allowing another goal just 37 seconds into a power play, and another tally which took a bit longer.  Both Blue Jacket goals in regulation came on the power play.  With less than a minute left, Baby Schenn put one home on Bobrovsky from Jake and Coots to tie it up… but the ref didn’t signal goal, despite the fact the goal light WENT ON, and the puck was clearly and visibly over the goal line:

 

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This ended up going to Toronto which (rightfully) ruled it was a goal.  In many ways this was the culmination to a horrendously-called game by referee Dave Jackson that made Tim Peel look like the second coming of Kerry Fraser.

Of course the Flyers blew their load on the comeback and had nothing left for the OT, where they dropped the second point to the Blue Jackets.

Following this game, our heroes came home to the cozy confines of the Wells Fargo Center to face the Devils as the first of a four-game homestand started, and they did not disappoint.  More secondary scoring was on the way as Matt Read blocked a shot on the penalty kill then fed Couturier for a shorty as the Flyers went up 1-0.  Seven minutes later, Coots would return the favor, setting Read up with a tremendous pass from the boards and making it 2-0.  In the second, the Flyers allowed their customary power play goal to Martin Havlat just fifteen seconds into the penalty to make it 2-1.  That would stand as the score until Simmonds potted his twelfth of the year on the power play in his office (and celebrating on his back) as the Flyers took a 3-1 lead with less than five minutes remaining.  An empty-netter by Voracek later, they would take both points in a 4-1 win against their Jersey rivals.

Other Thoughts:

-At times it feels like the Flyers play up or down to their competition.  How else can you explain beating the Kings and then losing again to the Blue Jackets?  It’s typically a mark of a bad (or at least inconsistent) team and it’s baffling and maddening all at the same time.

-Bellemare Watch: doing the little things that help teams win (or at least compete)

-Doesn’t it seem like every team the Flyers face has someone who’s been out a while but got healthy just to play them?  People used to catch the Philly Flu before playing us and not be available; now we make people healthy?  It’s just one more sign of how things change when you’re a bad team.

-Arguing about which defenseman to scratch is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic; it’s not going to change the fact that the ship is going to sink and the team is going to stink.  Just let it go.

-I feel bad for Vinnie Lecavalier.  I mean yeah he’s getting paid a lot of money and will be for a while along with his buyout money, but he’s a proud, accomplished professional who is now a healthy scratch on the regular, and that’s got to do something to a man.  People forget he was leading the Flyers in scoring last year before he hurt his back; now he’s doing nothing, just waiting for someone to get injured.  None of the other centers are going to get benched for him.  It’s just time to wait.

-Scott Laughton! I’m impressed.  I love how he wins draws regularly, going over 50 percent in three of the four games he’s taken draws in recently; with a team who has trouble clearing the defensive zone, it’s important to get the puck on drops before the other team gets set up.  Even if he’s not scoring, he’s doing other things to help, like Bellemare.

-Food for thought: at the end of this year, Timonen, Schultz, Colaiacovo and Del Zotto will be free agents.  At the end of next year, Coburn, Grossmann, and Luke Schenn will be free agents.  That leaves Streit and MacDonald as the only remaining defensemen under contract, and if you don’t think the organization is looking at the kids to fill those roles, well, you haven’t been paying attention.

-I keep seeing on Twitter “this is a team we should beat” and things of that nature.  There are no teams we SHOULD beat, only teams we DO beat right now.  This team is not at a sufficient level to look at another team and say “this is a team we should take two points from almost every time”.  Not Columbus, not Carolina, no one.  This is our reality for the next two years.  Just enjoy the wins when they happen.

-Last point: I know I’ve been negative about this team.  Sometimes it’s done in a funny manner and sometimes it’s just blunt honesty.  It doesn’t mean I love them any less.  I may speak for a lot of Flyers fans when I say I hope for the best for this team, but realize they aren’t going to do anything right this second, and you know what?  That’s okay.  The plan is in place which makes right now easier to swallow, knowing that it won’t be like this forever.

-Beating the Devils never gets old though, eh?  Let’s Go Flyers!

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