March 5th 2009: The day after the trade deadline where Scottie Upshall was sent packing to Phoenix and Daniel Carcillo played his first game as a Flyer. The Flyers hosted the Calgary Flames that night, a team with a huge spark with new deadline-addition Olli Jokinen. The Flyers got smoked that night in front of their home crowd 5-1, and all fingers pointed to the lack of emotion and jump in their game due to the loss of teammate Scottie Upshall. Almost a year later, the Flames hosted the Flyers the day after they themselves were involved in an important trade. It was apparently time for a little revenge.
The opening face-off saw the Richards line take it to the Flames right from the get-go. They had plenty of chances and pressure in the offensive zone in the opening minute, and the Flyers never looked back. This shift would prove to be a good omen as Richards would become the 28th Flyer in franchise history to reach 100 goals in the 2nd period. It came from a really nice play from Gagne, who knocked down a floating puck in the slot right to Richie. He proceeded to bury it to bring the Flyers to a 1-0 lead. They continued their great play and played one of the best 2nd periods they’ve played all year. Giroux got it going in the 3rd period with a great show of his speed and control of the puck as he got a semi-breakaway and Kiprusoff waited for him to cut across the crease to the forehand but The Magician decided to stick to the backhand and pull it over him for the goal. Were they done? Nope, because they got a powerplay with a little more than 2 minutes left, and they wasted no time. Pronger ripped a shot from the point off the draw, it hit the post, Kiprusoff was out of his net, Gagne fed it to Richie for the 2nd time tonight, and just like that; Richie reaches 101 goals. The Flyers end the game 3-0, and Emery notches the 3rd shutout of the year/his career with the Flyers.
Apart from individual efforts, the team played an excellent game tonight. They played a team who just executed a huge trade in hopes of bolstering their offense and who was supposed to come out fired up in front of their home crowd to prove that they can win some games. The Flyers wasted no time in taking away their chances, and the team as a whole did a great job of getting pucks out of their zone and collapsing to protect Emery who made 18 saves to boot.
This game was also the first time Flyers fans got to see the new addition to the roster, Lucas Krajicek. He totaled just under 18 minutes of ice-time and showed off some of his ability to skate. Obviously being paired with Timonen, he did not have the hardest task in front of him. However, it was nice to see a guy who we picked up to solve our defensive depth problems with a relative cheap price tag come out and play a solid game. If he can continue to grow and work, he can help produce another solid defensive pairing. He can play either side and is a good puck-moving defenseman, so it adds to the upside besides the fact that he is still a young guy (26). Another good thing to see was Carcillo finally getting high-sticked during the game and drawing a penalty from it. I’ve said it before, I’ve counted a few occasions where he did not draw one even though he was struck in the face. Coatesy and Co. also shared an interesting stat tonight: Carcillo was in the top 4 for shooting percentage in the month of January. Not bad for Chico eh? Scottie Upshall meanwhile sadly tore his ACL and will be out for the season. I don’t mean to bring up that whole debate again, but maybe it will put the whiners to rest who swear Upshall was God’s gift to hockey. I liked him too, but it’s been almost a year; time to move on.
They started the road trip the right way tonight, and if they can play like they played tonight, it will be hard to stop this team. Next stop is Edmonton on Wednesday; another team struggling to find themselves in the ‘W’ column. Look for a game preview on Wednesday, and a follow-up to the game at Minnesota on Saturday to wrap up their road trip. The Flyers have six games left before the break. How awesome would it be to see them end this half of the season with straight wins and a full head of steam going into playoff time? Please, God.