Clichés Ring True in Flyers Win
Sports and clichés go hand in hand, they always have and they always will. For the Philadelphia Flyers, the most commonly used cliché seems to be something along the lines of, 'when a team can roll three scoring lines, they are difficult to matchup against.' Sunday afternoon, the illustration of the cliché was as clear as it has been all season. The Flyers third line of Nikolay Zherdev, Claude Giroux and Jeff Carter made the difference in the team’s 4-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center.
The last time the Flyers touched the ice in Chicago, they skated off facing a three games to two deficit in the Stanley Cup Finals. This time, the game carried much less meaning but the Flyers played with some of the urgency that they harnessed in that final series. They also played with a new face in goal, Sergei Bobrovsky.
After a deflating regulation loss at home on Saturday to New Jersey, the team needed to bounce back in a big way on Sunday. It didn’t seem like that would happen in the early going, but Bobrovsky was spectacular in net. Chicago couldn’t get a shot by the young Russian, and in the meantime, the Flyers found their legs.
Chicago outshot the Flyers 11-9 in the first period, but the second period was a completely different story. After Carter found the back of the net in a scrum in front of Chicago’s net, the shots began to fly. Philadelphia shot 19 shots to Chicago’s nine, but the Blackhawks’ rookie goalie rose to the challenge. Corey Crawford was simply brilliant through two periods, stopping 27 of 28 shots on net. With Bobrovsky matching him save for save, the third promised to be a tooth-and-nail affair.
But, the Flyers third line had different plans.
Just over two minutes into the third period, Zherdev went behind Chicago’s net and scored on a beautiful wraparound shot. Crawford had no chance on the goal, and defenseman Brian Campbell was just a second late in his attempt to cover the open net. Less than three minutes later, Giroux found Carter with a saucer pass that he batted out of mid-air and past Crawford.
With a 3-0 lead, the Flyers looked to be headed for smooth sailing toward two crucial points on the road. However, Chicago turned up their play a notch and caused a puck-in-hand penalty during a scrum in front of Bobrovsky. Marian Hossa scored the Blackhawks’ first goal on the penalty shot, which was the first successful home attempt for the franchise since 1987. It looked like the momentum had shifted in the reigning champions’ favor.
Philadelphia made sure the shift was fleeting. The team stayed disciplined defensively and Bobrovsky did the rest. Scott Hartnell put the exclamation mark on the win for the Flyers with his empty-net goal in the game’s last minute. When everything was said and done, Bobrovsky had stopped 30 of 31 shots and Giroux added four points to his season total. The first time all star and Carter were both +4 in the game, and Zherdev was +3.
The cliché that best summed up Sunday’s game may have been that it was a strong ‘bounce back game’ for the Flyers. Whether in reference to their ability to win after losing the previous game, or the difficulties of opposing teams to matchup with their forwards, the Flyers proved that clichés are often born in truth on Sunday. There’s no time to rest for the team, however. The Montreal Canadiens travel to Philadelphia on Tuesday, and it will be a tough challenge for the Flyers.
In order to stay atop the NHL standings, they’ll have to continue to take it ‘one game at a time’