After a crazy homecoming weekend at my school and two-straight wins from the Flyers, I’m having a very good Sunday. The Flyers came out and without a doubt showed up both the Hurricanes and the Devils in their home openers. Now, as I alluded to back in July, the Flyers are coming into their season opener to a “Relentless” orange Philadelphia Phaithful crowd after winning their first 2 games. What could be better than winning a game versus Ovie and the Caps? I’ll be there to show my support for the 2nd straight year, and hopefully they bring it to Washington who are also coming off of a 2-0 start. Should be a great match-up before hosting the Penguins on Thursday. Instead of recapping both games separately, I’m going to go over different aspects of the Flyers’ game the past two days and how it has worked for them.
Here are some notes I have about the past two games:
What can I say about this guy. Doing his job and making all the saves he needed to in his Flyers debut. The Hurricanes didn’t make it too difficult for him, but he still stopped everything in his way to earn his first shutout as a Flyer. If that wasn’t good enough, he was absolutely STELLAR at times last night over the Devils. He made some great post-to-post saves as well as fighting for vision of the puck and stopping them. Those two goals he let up were during the “garbage time” of hockey. They weren’t his fault and he wasn’t out of position (ahem, Biron). Great showing by this guy I hope he can keep it up.
Having Pronger out there really does make a difference. All three pairings were solid at shutting down the offenses of Carolina and New Jersey. Timmonen and Coburn’s shifts looked great as always, but I can’t say enough about Pronger. It seeemed that when he was on the ice, he was everywhere in the defensive zone. His active stick was breaking up plays, and his body was punishing Zach Parise all night on Saturday. Carle can really flourish with Pronger playing with him. Carle looks like an exponentially better defenseman already after just two games with him. Parent and Syvret played great as well. That’s what we need from our defense to put us in situations to win games. And between Emery and our blue liners, a solid team effort by the defensive corps.
James Van Riemsdyk
Three assists in his first two games as a Flyer? This guy was even getting some power play time last night with Richie. Pretty impressive stuff from this rookie. Hope there is more to come from this guy as he makes Claude Giroux’s 3rd line that much better.
3rd and 4th Lines
Okay so Richards and Carter had a goal in each of their games so far. The line of Briere, Carter, and Hartnell was doing a lot of good things with puck movement and setting up scoring chances (especially last night). There was a time where they kept the puck in the Devils zone for over a minute after many failed clear attempts. Richie’s line with Gags and Pyorala looked really good as well. However, the main focus I had over the past two games was the work of the 3rd and 4th line. They looked really solid on Friday night, but they sure as hell shined on Saturday night. The 3rd line with Powe, Giroux, and JVR have been playing really good hockey and using their young legs and aggressiveness to get to loose pucks and make things happen. Giroux and JVR are going to be a very good duo this season and Powe is the kind of player who can play with anybody.
The real star of last night’s game if you ask me was the 4th line. Seeing Carcillo play the way he did last night with two veterans in Betts and Lappy makes me hope that his haters start downplaying that a bit. That line drew at least two penalties to my memory, and they were everywhere with an active forecheck and giving Brodeur and Co. a headache just getting our of their own zone. I never saw a line work so hard against the Devils. They gave the kind of effort they needed to win, and were rewarded when Lappy scored to make it even that all four of our lines scored last night.
Winning a convincing 2-0 against the Hurricanes and 5-2 against a great goalie and a good hockey team makes me optimistic as to what we can accomplish this year. We’ve all heard the talk about the expectations for this team, but there isn’t much we could tell until the season actually started. The real tests come this week with the Caps, Pens, and Ducks all at home. Look for a Division Preview tomorrow. I’m counting the hours until I head to the Wachovia Center on Tuesday.