Flyers sheathed the Sabres, 6 - 3
What do you think the tempo was like in the Flyers locker room moments before they took to the ice? You think it was filled with echoing hoots and hollers from players getting themselves psyched up while they high fived and clicked hats in good-luck a la mode?
Or perhaps it was quiet enough to hear the trainers pull and rip tape as they wrapped it around their players joints and fingers. Sounds of low muffled beats from teammates' headphones clogged into their ears, pumping pregame tunes into their skulls. The friction made from pad to thigh as a Flyer's knees bounced up and down in anticipation sitting in his locker. A steady drip of water hitting the rubber matted flooring from Pronger's soaked back hair.
And then me....sliding a forkfull of delicious ravioli into my mouth as I watched Versus Channel's Pre-Game LIVE.
Whichever atmosphere it was in that Flyers locker room, it certainly worked.
Although Jody Shelley took a trip to the sin-bin early in the 1st for slashing and Sabres Golden Boy, Thomas Vanek, capitalized on a deflected power play goal shot from the point, the Bullies came back in heart-filled Philadelphia fashion.
The game prior against the Columbus Blue Jackets was labeled a disgrace, to say the least. Much needed to be proven after that performance considering they had just bounced back from a three game losing streak, wiping the ice with the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night.
And oh did the Flyers answer.
Flyers goals came off the sticks of Danny Briere (PPG), Nikolay Zherdev, Darroll Powe, Claude Giroux (PPG), Jeff Carter (PPG) and Andreas Nodl, defeating Sabres net tender Ryan Miller, 6 - 3.
Jeff Carter left the ice last night as the game leader in points. His power play goal which was a deflection in net off of Captain Mike Richads' slap shot and his two assists on both Danny Briere and Darroll Powe's netters earned him the #1 Star in my book.
Up until last night, Jeff Carter's effort in Orange had been scrutinized by the Flyers nation. Descriptions such as "lazy" and "lackadaisical" were potted in his performance's corner. He was certainly a player that most critics believed needed to skate with more hunger, drive and determination than what he's shown so far this premature season.
I'd say he did a very good job displaying what he's perfectly capable of doing, but because this team as a whole has yet to go on any sort of a winning streak, and have built this season's record into a seesaw crisis, I am not sold that he - or any points leader - can keep this kind of performance on a consistent plain.
But the fact of the matter is, we won it and we did so against a Vezina Trophy winner in the opposite net. So all I can do is breath a sigh of relief that I'm not looking at a record of 3-5-1, but instead 4-4-1. Yes, that is only a one game difference in the columns, but right now every 2-points earned is needed even in this fetal stage of the season.
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There were more than a few things that stood out last night, but I'll just name a palmfull of them;
Our power play performance was the most successful it's been all season long, and its results grew a smile on my face longer than Britney Spears' stretch marks. We wound up burying three pucks past Miller while his squad was shorthanded.
Although our boys came out of the gate trying a little TOO hard to make plays, they were able to calm it down and involve small hockey with smart shots. Shots, mind you, that weren't constantly blocked 10 feet from the crease like we've seen so many times thus far. The result was Ryan Miller stopping 28 of 33 shots fired from Philly wood.
Two defencemen from our blue line really stood out and looked incredible, playing a full 60 minutes which is what this team has been incapable of doing; Matt Carle and Andrej Meszaros.
~ Meszaros won every battle he was in against the boards. If he lost one or two, I certainly didn't witness them. His physical play is his largest weapon and it never quit all night long.
~ Carle saved Pronger's ass throughout the night. One play that comes to mind is a Pronger turnover at center ice which Carle broke up in the slot, keeping Bobrovsky from having to stonewall a potential breakaway play. Keep in mind that Chris Pronger is still getting in game shape after missing training camp and preseason due to off-season knee surgery. But even a handicapped Pronger is better value to a team than without him at all.
Matt Carle's really stepped up to the plate and has proven he can spackle up a few holes in an aging, and less conditioned, Chris Pronger.
And last, but certainly not least, there's the Novokuznetsk native (say that five times fast, but be careful...you may stroke out) goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobs ended the game stopping 32 of 35 Sabre shots on goal. It wasn't until right around the middle of the third that Buffalo was beginning to make a nerve racking comeback and potted two unanswered goals past Bobrovsky. But before the Flyers fan nail biting and hair pulling began, Sergei looked nothing short of solid and quick in his crease stopping 26 of 27 total shots in the 1st & 2nd periods. The Versus announcers couldn't stop praising the Russian's speed of his leg pads from post to post, and you didn't need a job as a color announcer with a microphone in your hand to tell that.
You could force feed The Roadrunner a bottle of Speed pills and he still wouldn't be able to make the lightning quick moves Bobrovsky displayed.
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Now the question stands; Which team is going to show up come Friday night against the hated rival Pittsburgh Penguins? The Flyers who trumped a high powered Buffalo Sabres, 6 - 3? Or the empty souled zombies who skated with the Columbus Blue Jackets Monday night?
At this point, how can that question be answered? There's nothing to base it off of, at least from this season!
If I were Peter Laviolette I would keep reminding my team the last time we took the ice with the Penguins they stomped us into our barn's basement, 5 goals to our measly 1.
Let's see if we can grab a hold of this momentum's coattails and ride 'em all the way through Western Pennsylvania.