Flyers Must Make Every Minute Count
It was the same old story for the Flyers (35-21-7) on Thursday night.
They allowed the opposing team to score first for the ninth straight game, and were forced to play from behind less than two minutes in.
Yet another poor start was enough to make Peter Laviolette call a timeout soon after that first goal was scored, and whatever it was that he said to his players, it worked.
Matt Read broke his 12-game goalless streak with a tally at just about ten minutes in, and the Flyers didn’t look back, going on to beat the Islanders 6-3 behind a jump-started offense.
The offense wasn’t the only upside of Thursday’s game, however.
Ilya Bryzgalov looked confident in net as he continued his solid play of late, making 21 saves and earning his fifth straight win, and the defense played well in front of him.
For the first time in a while, the team as a whole played a great game after the first few minutes – and it paid off.
That’s something they’ll need to maintain on Sunday against the Washington Capitals (32-27-5) and through the rest of these last 19 games of the season.
Sunday’s matchup will be the first in over two months for these two teams.
The season series is tied at one game apiece, with the Flyers earning the last win, a 5-1 victory back on December 13.
Washington has had a difficult season, and is currently 19th in the league with 69 points – a far cry from the team who won the Eastern Conference just a season ago.
As is every game from here on out for the Flyers, Sunday’s is an important one.
So long as Pittsburgh loses to Colorado on Saturday night, the Flyers can move into second in the Atlantic Division (tied with Pittsburgh) with 79 points.
Though Washington has been struggling lately (4-6-0 in their last ten), their play at home has them at second in the Eastern Conference.
However, the Flyers are one of the top away teams in the league, and they will be catching the Capitals at a vulnerable time.
Washington was embarrassed by the New Jersey Devils on Friday night in a 5-0 loss powered by Zach Parise’s hat trick.
Before that loss, Washington had won three in a row, though they’d lost three straight prior.
Tomas Vokoun did not practice with his teammates on Saturday due to a lower body injury, so it is probable that Michal Neuvirth (9-10-3) will be in net for the Capitals on Sunday.
Neuvirth was credited with the loss against New Jersey on Friday, giving up five goals on just 20 shots.
Ilya Bryzgalov (23-13-6) will likely get the start for Philadelphia, his eighth straight.
The Flyers need to find a way to strike first and maintain control of the game.
They were able to come from behind on Thursday and get the win, but it will not always happen that easy.
With only 19 games left in the season, each is important, and every minute out on the ice counts.
The Flyers must make every minute count.