Apparently the Chicago Blackhawks are supposed to matter to the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2010-11 season because of the heartbreaking loss during the Stanley Cup Finals last season, if you watched any of today’s 4-1 win on NBC.
The truth is, though, it’s a new hockey season and everything that happened before is just history. The ‘Hawks barely resemble the team they were last year anyway, so all that matters is that the Flyers continue to put forth a consistent effort.
Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky played very well today, stopping 30 of 31 shots and basically taking over the starting position for the rest of the season with his performance. The lone goal for the Blackhawks was from a penalty shot awarded to Marian Hossa after defenseman Braydon Coburn closed his hand on the puck during a frenzy in front of the net. It’s frustrating that the team hasn’t earned a single shutout all season, but a win is a win.
The balanced scoring is another one of the high marks for this team. On days like these when the Ville Leino-Danny Briere-Scott Hartnell line is failing to put up more than an empty net goal, another line steps in to carry the load. In this instance, the Jeff Carter-Claude Giroux-Nikolay Zherdev line was phenomenal.
Carter (2G, 1A), Zherdev (1G, 1A), and Giroux (0G, 4A) just lit up the ‘Hawks. Carter knocked a loose puck in for his first goal at 00:49 of the second period and re-directed a Giroux pass from mid-air for his second. Zherdev, meanwhile, was able to capitalize on poor coverage from defenseman Brian Campbell with a quick wraparound goal. With James Van Riemsdyk day-to-day with a lower body injury, I would expect to see this line intact on Tuesday.
Dan Carcillo made an appearance with JVR out. He was utilized intermittently throughout the game on either the fourth line or with Mike Richards and Andreas Nodl. His beatdown of Blackhawk Jake Dowell notwithstanding, his time in Philadelphia is winding down. I don’t dislike the player, but he isn’t excelling in any one particular area to warrant a regular spot in the line-up and the team sees Jody Shelley in their future. I’m not sure if there is a market for Carcillo at the trade deadline, but teams looking for a gritty, energetic player could find him useful.
The powerplay continues to look terrible. I don’t have an answer for how to fix it, but whether the team brings in a powerplay specialist via trade or tries new combinations, something has to give.
Hopefully they can find more powerplay success (and a shutout) on Tuesday with the Montreal Canadiens in town.