The Flyers had back-to-back games this weekend against Atlantic Division rivals the New Jersey Devils and the New York Islanders. They came away with four points to tie for the lead again in the Eastern Conference. I’ve broken up my thoughts on both games into separate posts, and I’m saving the discussion of the powerplay for a third post.
Flyers Vs. Devils: 5-3 Win
The Mike Richards-Andreas Nodl-James Van Riemsdyk line continued to play like the top line. I’ve heard a number of complaints that Richards is the sole reason that the line works, but that’s bull. Since tallying his first goal of the season, JVR has been playing with much more energy and his dive to score the second goal of the game illustrates that. Nodl and JVR have been just as responsible for making plays as Richards.
- That’s not to take away that the captain doesn’t deserve any additional praise of late, especially for his third period goal to take the lead. Both Claude Giroux and coach Peter Laviolette spoke after the game about how Richards seems to carry the team on his back when they’ve lost a few.
Giroux: “He does that so many times during the season when the team is just flat. After a few games where that’s what’s going on, he just starts hitting… driving and hitting and shooting everything. He just gets guys going.”
Laviolette: “I said it last week. Mike’s been on his game. His line has been excellent, he’s been excellent, and especially in times when you’ve lost a few and need to get a win, you look for your captain to step up and have a big game, and he did.”
Do you think his teammates see that?
“I don’t know how they could miss it.”
- The first Devils goal was a slapshot from Ilya Kovalchuk that had Bobrovsky dead to rights. The Flyers managed to dog him for the majority of the game, but he broke through the Flyers powerplay in the second period and went 1-on-1 with Bob. What could have sunk the Flyers momentum turned into a spectacular stop by Bob.
- Giroux and Danny Briere also scored for the Flyers, each tallying early in the second and third periods. Giroux’s goal was a result of good positioning, banging home a rebound shot from Darroll Powe that initially hit the post. Nikolay Zherdev has been getting ice time with Giroux and Jeff Carter, but I still prefer having an energetic grinder like Powe on that line.
- Once again, Scott Hartnell took a poorly timed penalty late in the third period, putting the Devils on the powerplay. Patrik Elias closed the gap to 4-3 with 44 seconds left in the game. Laviolette needs to hold a bag skate for the players who routinely commit penalties just to send a message to the team that lazy stick penalties will not be tolerated.
- With a handful of seconds left in the game, Mike Richards’ stick caught the lip of Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner. Langenbrunner was furious that a penalty wasn’t called, barking to the referees as blood trickled down his jersey. In the locker room, Richards remarked that he wasn’t sure if he caught him with his stick, but it looked like he was trying to hide a smile.