Lindy Ruff told his team that tonight’s game against the Flyers would be the most important of the season. And that’s how the Sabres played from the very first faceoff.
In a nut shell, the Sabres came out flying; the Flyers did not. Despite the fisticuffs, the scoring for the Flyers, and the solid effort through the first two periods, the Flyers found themselves once again taking time off at the beginning of the third. Two blown coverages led to the 5-2 Buffalo lead early in the final stanza. Philadelphia never recovered.
I usually try to limit my comments when I’m in the building for games. Journalists have the advantage of sitting in the press box, above the fans and separated from the emotional lurches experienced in the stands. Unfortunately, I’m just another screaming nut in the mass of 20,000 fans.
But I do have a few notes:
– John Stevens came out angry in his press conference – but not at his own team, exactly. The third period should have begun with 4-on-4 hockey. Stevens contends that Buffalo had out 5 men, allowing them to score on the Flyers, and that the refs missed the call. I personally do not recall seeing that, so I’ll check the highlights in the morning.
– Jesse Boulerice does not belong on this squad. The Flyers fans always raise a cheer whenever someone in orange and black delivers a nice hit. That does not give license to any member of the team to go out swinging for the fences on every hit, leaving his defensive responsibilities unattended. Boulerice did just that this evening and coupled his shoddy performance with little upside in the offensive end. Riley Cote may not have the fighting experience of Boulerice, but at least Cote has hands and makes smart, solid hockey plays. Boulerice should not be out there – regardless of the injury list.
– Jaroslav Modry keeps ending up on the minus side of life. He is a good NHL-worthy defenseman and probably deserves better. But the Flyers fans will not continue to put up with him much longer if he cannot find a way to keep the puck out of the net on his watch.
– While Martin Biron was sloppy in net tonight and probably should have had at least one of Buffalo’s final three goals, I think it was a mistake on Stevens’ part to pull his goaltender. Biron needs to be the number one netminder down the stretch and (hopefully) into the playoffs. Pulling him only does further damage to his confidence. And that’s the last thing these Flyers need at present.