Flyers: In Case You Missed It (Week Ending 3/26)
Welcome to this week’s edition of Flyers: In Case You Missed It. In this column, we’ll briefly recap the Flyers games from the past week, as well as report on any current team news.
Photo Credit: AP Photo
Tuesday, March 22nd – Capitals 5, Flyers 4 (SO)
Coming off of a win against the Dallas Stars – and their second straight shootout – the Flyers looked to make it two in a row on Tuesday against the Washington Capitals. The surging Capitals didn’t make it easy on the Flyers, and they were down 2-0 going into the second period. After Dennis Wideman’s goal just about a minute and a half into the second period, starting goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was pulled and Brian Boucher was brought in. The Flyers managed to come back and tie it up on goals from Kris Versteeg, Claude Giroux, and Andreas Nodl, and Danny Briere scored with a little over five minutes left in the game to give the Flyers the lead, but they couldn’t hold on to it. Marcus Johansson scored the tying goal for the Capitals, sending the game into overtime. When the extra five minutes wasn’t enough for either team to score, the game went into a shootout, where the Flyers just looked... well, brutal isn’t the nicest of words, but it’s the best one to use for this. Ville Leino and Briere scored in the shootout, but Boucher couldn’t handle the Capitals offense one-on-one, and Alexander Semin got the game-winning goal in the 3rd round to end it.
Thursday, March 24th – Penguins 2, Flyers 1 (SO)
After Tuesday’s loss to the Capitals, the Flyers were looking to bounce back against Pittsburgh, but didn’t have much luck. The offense was quiet and sloppy at times, and if it wasn’t for Sergei Bobrovsky’s phenomenal play in net, the loss could have been much worse. The Flyers only had 20 total shots on goal, as compared to Pittsburgh’s 31. Mike Richards scored the only goal for the Flyers in regulation, a puck that took a weird bounce over Marc-Andre Fleury’s shoulder and had to be reviewed before being called good. For the fourth straight game, the end result was decided in a shootout. Danny Briere scored for the Flyers, but that was all the help Bobrovsky got from his offense, and he couldn’t get the save on Pittsburgh’s Chris Kunitz, who had the game-winning goal. The Penguins were dangerously close to the Flyers in the standings going into this game, and though the Flyers managed to steal a point, they didn’t do much to help themselves otherwise.
Saturday, March 26th – Flyers 4, Islanders 1
Earlier in the season, a game against the Islanders would have been considered an easy one for the Flyers. However, the Islanders team of today is faring much better than the team of a few months ago, and they’ve always proven to be a tough opponent for the Flyers. Usually, they make things difficult for the Orange & Black, but they didn’t have the chance to do so on Saturday. James Van Riemsdyk scored his first career hat trick, and Jeff Carter got the other goal for the Flyers in the 4-1 victory. Making his fourth straight start, Sergei Bobrovsky had another stellar performance, stopping 36 of 37 total shots. Though the Islanders are not playoff contenders and therefore not a team that the Flyers really needed to worry about, this win was a big one for them – adding two more points to their season total never hurts, and especially not now, during their recent struggles.
Sunday, March 27th – Bruins 2, Flyers 1
Sunday’s game between the Flyers and Bruins was a highly-anticipated one, and the stakes were very high. If the Bruins won, they’d clinch a playoff spot, and the chance of them clinching the top spot in the Eastern Conference improved; if the Flyers won, they would greatly lessen the Bruins’ chances and only make theirs stronger. Both teams played hard in a game that definitely had that playoff vibe, but, unfortunately, the Bruins came out with the win. It seemed as if this would be yet another game headed for overtime, but when Mike Richards took a high-sticking penalty with less than five minutes to go in regulation, the Bruins capitalized and scored on a goal from Brad Marchand. The Flyers weren’t able to score after Marchand’s goal and took the loss. One good thing to take out of this loss was the solid play of Brian Boucher, who made 34 saves on 36 shots. He looked much more confident in net than he had in the shooutout against the Capitals, the last time he was between the pipes. Unfortunately, his strong play wasn’t enough to get the Flyers the win.
• After taking a puck to the face during practice on Monday, Jody Shelley was diagnosed with a broken orbital bone and scheduled to undergo surgery to repair it. The puck deflected off of Andreas Nodl’s stick and hit Shelley under his left eye. He is expected to miss about four weeks while he recovers from the surgery, which he had on Thursday.
• The Flyers announced on Thursday that they signed forward Matt Read to a free-agent contract that will begin at the start of next season. Read is a graduate of Bemjidi State University, where he played in 147 games and recorded 65 goals and 78 assists. He was the captain of the team during his senior year, tallying up 22 goals and 13 assists. Since signing with the Flyers, Read has appeared in two games for the Adirondack Phantoms. On Friday night, he had three shots on goal against the Hershey Bears, and he scored his first professional goal on Saturday night against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
The Flyers are obviously struggling right now, and even though they’re guaranteed a spot in the playoffs, this is still no time to be complacent or play sloppy hockey. With Pittsburgh, Washington, and Boston all closing in on the top divisional spot, the Flyers need to step up and play hard to keep the other teams at bay and maintain their spot at the top. A higher seed will obviously prove better for them when the playoffs roll around, and they really need to fight to get the top one. Though they lost three out of this past week’s four games, they were playing with more intensity and more intelligence (not including Tuesday’s game, of course), and if they could continue to play like that and just get the momentum going on their end, and play up to their potential, they should hopefully end up with the top spot in the East. They’ll face the Penguins again on Tuesday, the Atlanta Thrashers on Thursday, the New Jersey Devils on Friday, and those New York Rangers on Sunday. None of these games will be easy wins for the Flyers, as they’ll be facing three teams who are more than likely going into the playoffs and a desperate and powerful New Jersey team (that is now even more powerful with the return of forward Zach Parise). It’s going to be a battle these last two weeks before the playoffs begin, and the Flyers will have to really find and maintain their focus, consistency, chemistry, strength and smarts if they want to beat their upcoming opponents and clinch the top spot in the East.