Ask anyone watching the game, including the players and the coach, and they’ll tell you that the whole team came out flat-footed. Bad turnovers, missed clearing attempts, and unorganized puck cycling in the offensive zone marred their chances against the speedy Habs.
Brian Boucher saved the Flyers on countless turnovers, but was beaten twice by Canadien third liner Maxim Lapierre. The first goal was a weak wrister from the blue-line and the second came on a bouncing puck, batted down by Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros and deflected through Boosh’s five-hole.
The Flyers rebounded for the remaining forty minutes, outshooting the Canadiens 36-16 in the second and third period.
“After the second [goal] we weren’t too happy, so the guys in the room wanted to get back in that game and I think the whole team started working hard and winning battles, and the second period [on] we dominated the game,” commented Claude Giroux.
The first goal for the Flyers came from a wide pass at the boards from Danny Briere to linemate Ville Leino. Price didn’t have the time to prepare for the shot while Scott Hartnell was camped in front. In my opinion, the success of that goal illustrates why the powerplay has struggled as of late (which went 0-3 on the night). While the puck cycling was better tonight, they were unable to generate any side-to-side movement of the puck to throw Price off. They continually fired shots from the point in hopes for deflections or screens, but ended up firing largely into Price’s chest.
If the Flyers generated more side-to-side action, the high shooting percentage should, in theory at least, equate with more goals.
Giroux tied the game 1:48 into the third period, on a shift that started with Darroll Powe carrying the puck deep into Montreal’s zone. Defenseman Sean O’Donnell eventually jumped into the play, passing the puck to Powe for a shot on Price that Giroux finally rebounded in.
The big story from tonight was James Van Riemsdyk finally getting his first goal of the season. JVR continued to play on a line with Mike Richards and Andreas Nodl and was much more noticable than he’s been in previous games. He was given time during a 4-on-4 in the third period and positioned himself perfectly to get the game-winning goal.
“The last three games or so when I got back in the line-up, I felt a lot better, kind of played without that pressure, not squeezing the stick as much, so it definitely made things a little easier… It was definitely good to play with two guys like that. You get on the ice a little more, and obviously Richie is a world class player, and I think me, him and Nod’s have some good chemistry out there so hopefully we can keep bulding off that,” offered JVR.
Habs defenseman PK Subban, in spite of the media comments between him and Richards, was a non-factor, which Powe addressed after the game: “I don’t think anyone here was worried about Subban tonight coming into the game.”
The Flyers travel to Minnesota on Wednesday to take on the Wild at the Xcel Energy Center. It will be interesting to see if coach Peter Laviolette follows his routine of playing winning goalies and gives Boucher his third start or if Sergei Bobrovsky will get the nod. Eric Wellwood was also called up from the Phantoms as the thirteenth forward, and he may get a start over Nikolay Zherdev based on Laviolette’s dissecting of his ice time.