Better With Popcorn

Finally a Shutout as Flyers Dominate Devils

93 games came and went last year in the Philadelphia Flyers season. 

And the Flyers were incapable of shutting out their opponent in all 93. 

Enter goalie Ilya Bryzgalov in Newark, NJ on Saturday night. The biggest signing in the Flyers offseason stopped all 20 shots he saw as the Flyers won 3-0. The win moved Philadelphia to 2-0-0 and continued to impress with their offseason changes.

Saturday's game was a clear indicator of what coach Peter Laviolette and general manager Paul Holmgren wanted this season. 

Relentless pressure on offense.

Sturdy defense.

Solid goaltending.

The latter of the two worked together to perfection in Newark, as Bryzgalov saw mostly shots he was able to save, so he saved them. It seemed in the offseason that the prevailing theme was to figure out why the Russian veteran would fail in Philadelphia.

And why not? The franchise has been unable to count on steady goaltending since  Ron Hextall. Philadelphia's crease is the layup of hockey jokes. 

Lost in the projections of why Bryzgalov wouldn't work, was the fact that he's an elite goaltender. And he's been an elite goaltender in Phoenix, a team that comes nowhere close to the top five defenseman in orange and black.

Combine those things together and you get 42 saves on 43 shots in the season's first two games. Low shot totals, and solid save totals. 

However, the defense and goaltending is only two-thirds of the equation. The offensive pressure that the Flyers supplied Saturday simply wore the Devils down. 

It started with a brilliant keep-in by Matt Carle in the first period that resulted in Claude Giroux being left alone to Martin Brodeur's left side. He dropped to one knee on a slap shot and gave the Flyers the 1-0 lead.

After both teams went scoreless in the second period, the Flyers pressure burst the Devils pipes with a Matt Read goal on a break out to make it 2-0. The goal was the first of Read's NHL career.

Wayne Simmonds added the final tally on a goal-mouth scramble. His goal exemplified the physicality he brings to the team. If that wasn't enough, it was on full display when he easily defeated Matt Clarkson when the two dropped the gloves late in the game. 

Last year the Flyers had plenty of scoring and sound defense at times. They wanted an upgrade in net to combine with those two attributes.

They got it.

At least in terms of shutouts. 

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Phil T's picture

I agree that Simmonds' goal was exactly what he's about - working hard and getting to the net

weenus's picture

I really like Simmonds and I'm happy with this off season trade. I was a Mike Richards fan, I liked his style of play and work ethic, but there were times last season where he seemed like he was just going through the motions and it was time for all parties involved.

The Carter trade I'm much more happy with. I understand we gave up (REGULAR SEASON) goals, and I know I'm being really hard on Carter but him being the Flyers top sniper could be held fully responsible for the Stanley Cup loss when three of four of CHI's wins were by a single goal and you remember Jeff Carter completely choking on a number of basically empty net shots.

I mean I understand Niemi made a good move but Carter is the guy we paid to be better than that, and down the stretch, he just flat out wasn't.

Phil T's picture

Bobby! Glad to see you here. Carter's shot percentage was never really good and you can see why in your clip; he doesn't seem to control the shot as much as a sniper really should. Had he picked a corner there it would have easily gone in.

Bense's picture

Richards and Carter were both great players, but I agree they just ended up not fitting. Turns out making Richards captain was the biggest mistake we could have made. He is the perfect role player that can do anything, but he shouldn't be the focal point of the team. Sadly trading him was the only option with that giant contract and already captain.

Carter I loved as well. He got a lot of crap for missing the net, but he was a presence on the ice and seemed to just be unlucky come playoff time. He played well defensively and shut down players like Crosby with ease. (see

Overall though, I am happy they are both gone. They were the center of the team, but just didnt have the personality or charisma to make the spotlight interesting. This new team is a breath of fresh air and I love it. That said, I think both Carter and Richards dominate this season. When they said this was a hockey trade I honestly believe it. I think all 3 teams are better from the trades. Flyers are younger/faster/more interesting and we have a goalie now. Voracek wasnt going to get any better in Columbus and Carter has proven many things and will be huge on #1 line. Richards is back out of the spotlight and anything he does is bonus for the Kings... with that mindset (and trying to make philly look stupid for making them go) they will both "wake up" and kill it.

My two cents...