The Flyers got themselves into a wild game last night. From the drop of the puck, the two Atlantic division rivals clashed in a fast-paced, hard-hitting game. The first 10 minutes of the opening period flew by as there was only about two whistles during that span. The Flyers arguably controlled the pace of that period with 12 shots to the Rangers 6, and there was lots of great puck movement in the transition game and the defense did an absolutely outstanding job of keeping the Rangers to the outside and allowing our forwards to come in and help get the puck. Richie started things off early by dumping Brian Boyle in the opening minute of the game and then proceeded to knock down their top scorer Marian Gaborik later in the period.
Surprisingly, the first period saw no penalties and not much extra-curricular activities. James Van Riemsdyk scored a beautiful goal on a semi-breakaway. He took a wrister coming down the left slot and poked his rebound in with the backhand to beat Lundqvist late in the first. The second period would be a whole ‘nother monster as Carcillo wound up tangling with Gaborik after a whistle and punching his face in, much to the chagrin of Rangers head coach John Tortorella who was screaming at the Flyers bench much after that. The video clearly shows that Gaborik dropped his gloves and initiated a fight as well, Carcillo is simply the better fighter. Hartnell and Avery went at it later in the period, with Hartnell dropping him with successful rights to his head. Then Carcillo fought Avery in the last minute of the period in a stalemate of a fight, then Gaborik got penalized for slashing with a minute left and Richards put a puck towards the net with a lot of traffic and it went in off of Staal’s skate to get a PP goal for the 2-0 lead. The 3rd period opened up with an Asham and Voros fight, and the rest of the game was pretty quiet after that as the Rangers failed to capitalize on their chances throughout the game (including an abbreviated double-minor power play).
Ray Emery notched another shutout in the Flyers uniform, but still seemed to have trouble controlling rebounds. However, he did make all of the saves he had to, and he will get better as time goes on and he gets more comfortable after coming back from injury. The defense played outstanding last night, and Chris Pronger has taken all of the hype surrounding him this year and showed it lately as he has been mostly impenetrable the past few games. Timmonen played solid as usual, and even Coburn played a pretty good game. He seems to be coming more out of his slump. Oskars Bartulis really impressed me last night in the defensive zone as he won most of the one-on-one battles I saw him in and produced good outlet passes to transition the rush. He also made some great pinches last night to keep the offensive pressure going, and that is great to see from an up and coming rookie like that. I like this guy.
The Flyers played a pretty much complete game last night and controlled the ice, especially the neutral zone. They have today off before hosting the Hurricanes tomorrow and the Penguins on Saturday. No word yet on goaltending for those two match-ups, but like I said yesterday, I could see Leighton possibly getting the start tomorrow against his old team and letting Emery rest up for the Penguins game. The Flyers have 11 games over the next three weeks before the Olympic break. They moved within 2 points of the Rangers last night with their two games in hand, and only 5 points separates them from the 5th place Senators. let’s see if they can continue this home stand with more wins.