Had goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky been able to hold on to the win for the Flyers tonight, Bob would have tied Pelle Lindbergh for the longest winning streak for a rookie goaltender. Unfortunately, too many penalties once again thwarted the Flyers’ efforts as the Washington Capitals were able to score two powerplay goals during the game.
Bob’s second start in as many nights was a bit of a risk on coach Peter Laviolette’s part, as he hasn’t seen much rest in the past week and a half, but it wasn’t as if the rookie showed any signs of slowing. He illustrated his determination and fortitude this morning as well, showing up to the Verizon Center for stretches when all of his teammates stayed at the hotel. This is undoubtedly Bob’s team.
The Capitals, like the Pittsburgh Penguins, are a good litmus test for how well a team can perform against the elite players in the NHL. The Flyers kept Russian juggernaut Alexander Ovechkin’s six shots out of the net, but Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Mike Green still managed to put points on the board. Green was battered and thrown throughout the game, but came away with the game winning goal in overtime with a point shot through traffic.
Nikolay Zherdev had another excellent game, tallying his fourth goal of the season from a wicked wrister in the first period. Andreas Nodl made the long pass to Zherdev from the defensive end after drawing in the Capitals defenseman who should have been covering Zherdev. Nodl and Zherdev will likely stay with captain Mike Richards for the time being.
Ville Leino had the Flyers second goal, deflecting a slapshot from Andrej Meszaros at the point. Meszaros has yet to get on the scoresheet himself, but has been playing very well with Sean O’Donnell as the third defensive pairing. He has benefitted from having a fresh start in Philadelphia after a tepid career in Tampa and the ice time he’s gotten from Laviolette on the shows it.
As mentioned earlier, the Flyers spent fourteen minutes shorthanded, including Jeff Carter’s 11th minor of the season and a four minute high-sticking double minor from Chris Pronger with just under four minutes left in regulation. Spending that much time in the sin bin isn’t going to cut it against a high-powered offensive like the Capitals, and Laviolette will need to focus on this once more during the time off before Thursday’s game.
The other problem tonight that bothered me was the team’s collective inability to properly clear the puck out of their own zone. While icing the puck would force tired teammates to remain on the ice for another shift, it was maddening how often they did just that because they could not clear it past the blue line. They’ve also been guilty of clearing the puck over the glass too many times, earning delay of game penalties. Many of tonight’s gaffes fall on defenseman Braydon Coburn’s shoulders, who somehow was named the third start of the night?
Three out of four possible points on the road this weekend is still worth commending. The Flyers are now tied with the Capitals for first place in the Eastern Conference and will look to stay on top when they face the Carolina Hurricanes this Thursday.