Flyers End Streak, But Continue Third Period Woes
The Philadelphia Flyers ended their four game losing streak Tuesday night on home ice against the Edmonton Oilers in a 4-1 victory. It was nice to see the Flyers get back to their winning ways, but tonight's victory wasn't exactly one to be particularly proud of.
It was obvious that tonight's game was expected to be an important one for the Flyers. After the disaster that occurred on Sunday afternoon, everyone was looking to see how the team would respond. Peter Laviolette gave the guys a complete day off. He just wanted them to get away from the rink and away from each other for the day. The idea sounded like a perfect one.
The first period was one of the few positives to take out of tonight's game. The Flyers out-shot the Oilers 17-1 in the period. It took the Oilers until there was just about one minute left to get their first shot. The Oilers were looking very flat and you could see why they are where they are in the standings, but at the same time, the Flyers did not look like they were dominating as it showed in the number of shots on goal.
Nevertheless, the Flyers did jump out to a 1-0 lead in the first. Danny Briere finally ended an eight game goalless drought. It was great to see a Danny Briere fist pump again. Briere was in alone on Dubnyk and beat him high glove side.
A few minutes later, Darroll Powe was hit from behind into the boards by Ladislav Smid. Smid received a 5 minute major and the Flyers went to the power play. It was the perfect opportunity for the orange and black to end their PP woes. But it was as painful to watch as expected. They wasted over a minute before they even got set up. Bad drop passes, defensemen pinching, inability to gather rebounds, and not connecting on passes all contributed to a very frustrating power play. It looked like the Flyers might not score a single goal on the man advantage, but thankfully with 19 seconds remaining on the Smid penalty, the Flyers put one in. Danny Briere sent the puck to the front of the net and Jeff Carter chipped the puck past Dubnyk.
And that is how the first period would end with the Flyers up 2-0. It was something to build on for sure, but with it being a dreaded two goal lead, it was necessary to add to the lead. The Flyers did just that in the second period. James van Riemsdyk sent a nice pass to Kimmo Timonen who sent a beautiful pass of his own to Jeff Carter who scored his 30th of the season to make it a 3-0 hockey game.
After that goal it seemed like the Flyers just stopped playing. Less than a minute after Carter's second of the night, Jean-Francois Jacques scored for the Oilers to make it a two goal hockey game again. Yes, it took away the shutout bid, but that is not a priority. Winning is the most important thing, shutout or no shutout.
The third period is the reason for so much negativity after a loss. The Flyers managed just 5 shots. They were out-shot by the Oilers 24-10 through the second and third. It was as if the Flyers just sat back and did not want to even try to build on their lead or care to play at all. They would finish the Oilers off with an empty net goal from Blair Betts, but it still did not feel like a convincing win.
Of course a win is a win. This is a stepping stone for the Flyers to get out of their funk. There's no reason to be all gloom and doom over a victory. The third period issues are very concerning, but it's safe to say that Chris Pronger made it known to his teammates and the media that lackluster efforts and not showing up to play a full game will not be tolerated.
The win should be taken for what it is: two very important points to stay on top of the Eastern Conference and a win that ended a small slump. At the end of the day, this win was much easier to swallow than if the Flyers would have not only lost to the worst team in the NHL but they would have lost their 5th in a row. I think anyone would gladly take this win.