It wasn’t just a matter of earning another two points (though that is obviously the bottom line). If they were to drop two in a row at the beginning of this latest road trip, it would be difficult for them to find positives to build on in such short time.
Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette shuffled his lines again, but maintained the line of Tye McGinn-Brayden Schenn-Jake Voracek while moving Danny Briere back to center. The pressure generated by that line along with a renewed vow from the defense to “keep things simple” helped the Flyers edge the Jets 3-2 in regulation.
Brayden Schenn opened the scoring with a great tip-in shot from Jake Voracek. Schenn has two 2 goals and 4 points in the last three games. Voracek has quietly earned himself 2 goals and 8 assists in his last 8 games as well.
Andrew Ladd, captain of the Jets, tied the game minutes later as a blind, backhand pass from forward Blake Wheeler at the boards bypassed three Flyers defensemen and made its way onto his stick.
Aside from that miscue (and some struggling in the third people as players became gassed), the defense did not find themselves out of position as badly as it did in Toronto. The players seemed to have a renewed focus that relied less on the breakout pass and more on clearing the puck out of the defensive end.
Luke Schenn bounced back nicely from the criticism received yesterday, credited with 7 hits and 0 turnovers in 20:46 of ice time.
Kimmo Timonen grabbed the lead with a goal on the powerplay before the first period expired. The powerplay still needs refinement and arguably new personnel, finishing 1-4 over the game.
In contrast to the game in Toronto, the team kept their composure throughout the game and only took three minor penalties. Zac Rinaldo, who is usually good for at least one penalty per game (deserved or otherwise), was responsible for drawing two powerplay opportunities against Jets forward Anthony Peluso.
The Flyers carried the one-goal lead through the second period. McGinn, taking advantage of his time spent with Voracek, drove hard to the net and redirected a pass from #93 to tally the insurance marker.
It was a critical goal at a critical time, especially considering the Jets were able to sneak another goal past Bryzgalov with 46 seconds remaining in the game.
In addition to the goal, McGinn came to the aid of Voracek after the former was jostled by defenseman Mark Stuart and dropped the gloves. Stuart was actually coming to the aid of goaltender Al Montoya, who was bumped by Voracek while playing the puck outside the crease.
One concern of mine is that, after taking two dangerous head collisions into the boards in the previous two games, fighting is just going to expose himself more to a concussion. It’s not as if Flyers rookies haven’t hid conditions from the team before; just ask Marc-Andre Bourdon how well that has worked for him.
Ilya Bryzgalov continued to be the decisive factor in the game, keeping the Flyers in the game even as the team in front of him was scrambling late in the third period. It was not an easy crowd for him to play in front of either, considering how well the fans in Winnipeg appreciated some comments he made about the city several years ago.
The Flyers have two days off before returning to New Jersey on Friday. They would be wise to spend as much time working on the powerplay as possible before taking on the Eastern Conference leaders.