No Sympathy from this Devil
The Philadelphia Flyers lost their 22nd game of the season on Friday night when they fell to the New Jersey Devils, 4-2. Friday night’s game concluded the season series between the two cross-river rivals, which saw the Flyers go 3-2-1. Philadelphia has now lost two games in as many days and it is the first time since March 6th that the Flyers have registered back-to-back regulation loses.
The game began with an up-tempo pace. The physical element of the game was established very early and both teams traded big hits. The Flyers looked really good in the first. Their puck movement was smooth and they had a steady offensive presence. They moved the puck well in the New Jersey zone and continually peppered Devils’ net minder, Johan Hedberg, with shots.
The Pinnacle of the first came halfway through the stanza when Mike Richards carried the puck up ice against Ilya Kovalchuk. Richards skated into the zone, cut back on the defensively challenged Russian, and threw a well-timed pass at the crease that found the stick of Middletown, New Jersey’s own James van Riemsdyk. JVR has faired well against his hometown team by registering 4 goals against them this season.
Six minutes into the second period, the Devils would strike on a defensive lapse. Brian Rolston broke down the left side of the Philadelphia boards and sent a pass to Flyer-killer, Patrick Elias, that was immediately sent to the back of the net.
One minute and fifty-two seconds after scoring his first goal, Patrick Elias would strike again.
Andrej Meszaros pinched from the point but was ineffective and left JVR as the only Flyer in defensive position. The young forward was left with the task of defending not one, but two veteran Devils forwards in Rolston and Elias.Instead of picking up Elias, JVR picked up Rolston. Once JVR broke on Rolston, Rolston sent the puck to Elias and the puck would again find the back of the net.
The third period would be bitter sweet for the Orange and Black. Four minutes into the period, the Flyers would tie up the game off of Jeff Carter’s 36th goal of the season.
Five minutes after Carter’s goal, Ilya Kovalchuk would race into the Philadelphia zone and throw a puck at the Philadelphia net. Nick Palmieri was standing to the left of Brian Boucher when the Kovalchuk shot would hit his skate and go into the net.
With a little under three minutes left in the game, Patrick Elias would score his third goal of the game when a rebound would bounce off of his skate and into the net effectively ending the contest. Patrick Elias has now scored 32 career goals against the Flyers and in this season alone, Elias has 6 goals and 2 assists in five games.
In the past two games, the Flyers have allowed three goals that bounced off of a players skate and into the net. While watching the Flyers play, it is very noticeable that things tend to look chaotic. Players sometimes cross lanes and passes go to players who aren’t expecting them. When a team is playing poor positional hockey, bounces tend not to go their way. All three of the skate goals that the Flyers have allowed have been the case of players driving the net and incidentally being hit by the puck. If the Flyers played a more organized game and tended to their defensive assignments more carefully, these goals probably wouldn’t have occurred.
In my opinion, Brian Boucher played a good game tonight. I think all four goals where instances of defensive lapses and mental mistakes by the position players. When players are given open shots and allowed the ability to drive the net, you as a team are not allowing your goaltender the opportunity to prepare for a shot. Boucher made quite a few saves tonight that were more than impressive. Unfortunately, mistakes kept him from receiving a win tonight.
Consistency has been an issue for the Flyers as of late and Friday night’s game was a good example of it. After beginning the game strong, the Flyers performance slowly dissipated and a golden opportunity to close in on an Atlantic Division title once again slipped away.
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