Flyers Go North, Play Goes South
The Philadelphia Flyers had a remarkable offensive stretch in their three games leading up to Tuesday’s matchup with the Montreal Canadiens. They piled up 18 goals in those games, and they came from every angle with dangles, shots and goals. Many wondered who could stop them. Tuesday night, the answer was clear. Carey Price.
Price was quite simply fantastic against the Flyers in the raucous Bell Centre on Tuesday. And if one can fault the Flyers for the loss, they can’t point to the shot total as evidence. The team put 41 shots on net, and Price stopped every one of them en route to a 3-0 victory for the Habs. When a good goaltender is locked in, every attempt seems fruitless and the frustration can boil over. For a Flyers team that had found scoring goals so easy lately, both consequences rang true.
The Flyers took thirteen penalties before it was all said and done, and the impact was felt on the scoreboard. Montreal’s first goal came during a 5 on 3 opportunity and their third also came courtesy of a Flyers penalty. It’s not that the home standing Habs didn’t take their fair share of penalties, but the Flyers power play unit was rendered completely useless in eight tries. The great equalizer on the power play is, and always will be, a hot goalie. Price was indeed the equalizer. On the other side, Sergei Bobrovsky was not. Not that it was a terrible effort from the young Russian net minder, but he’s been much better than he was Tuesday. The prospect of playing eleven straight games and facing a hungry, quick and talented group can be a dangerous combination for a rookie goalie. I think most Flyers fans would agree that Laviolette rode the hot hand, and while it’s tough to argue against that, the kid probably needs a bit of a rest. When things are going right and the team’s winning, it may not be conceivable to sit ‘Bob’, but with the loss against Montreal, I would expect Brian Boucher to finally get another start.
There are many different ways to look at the defeat on Tuesday, but in my opinion it’s quite simple. No disrespect to the Canadiens (who played very well), but the Flyers were more than due for a bad outing. They had gone 9-0-1 in their last ten, and after beating Ottawa last night, it was clear they were a bit slow to the puck, and losing seemingly every battle on the boards. Now, playing Montreal wasn’t the best case scenario for the Flyers, but given their play over the last month, I would be shocked to see them fall into a slump. Things can’t continue to go right forever, and Tuesday night’s game made that quite evident. Although my premise is simple on the Flyers loss, there can be no mistake that I am simply chalking everything up to the idea that things ‘even themselves out’. Discipline and better special teams will be especially important for the team moving forward, but it’s hard to complain about nineteen points in eleven games.
Next, the Flyers will welcome Tampa Bay to the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday before traveling to Washington for Saturday’s matchup with the Capitals. Two of the Flyers’ six losses have come against the two teams, so there’s no excuse to come out flat. Also, the Flyers will get the Canadiens at home next Monday, where they’ll have a chance to avenge Tuesday’s loss. With some of the scrums and physical play that took place in Montreal, I would venture to guess that it will be a much better contest the second time around.