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Postgame: Thrashers @ Flyers 3/18/2008

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Tonight’s victory bolstered the Flyers’ hold on eighth in the conference.  It also could give them a boost in momentum as they head into their last 8 games in the season.

Postive points for the evening:

1. Antero Niittymaki extends his perfect record against the Thrashers to 9 games.  He may not have handled many shots from the Thrashers, but he deserves much of the credit.  Save of the game definitely belongs to Niitty for the stop on Kovalchuk with seconds remaining.

2. Jeff Carter turned in yet another strong performance, including his power play deflection late in the second period on Kimmo Timonen’s point shot.  He’s using his strength to protect the puck and his speed to crash the net.  Very Sundin-like this evening.

3. I talked about clutch earlier today, and Mike Richards was the very picture of it.  He opened the Flyers scoring in the first, put in a solid effort at both ends of the ice, and was physically aggressive throughout the game.  Richards had looked worn down following the All-Star break.  Seeing him play with the energy of the first half is a good sign for Flyers fans.

4. Briere and Prospal continue to develop chemistry even with Umberger out of the lineup.  Their give-and-go was textbook perfection.  But don’t forget how it evolved.  Ryan Parent made a fantastic defensive block at the other end and followed up with a crisp outlet pass to launch that rush.

A note of concern: Being a positive person in general, I almost hate to point out that the Flyers’ demons were still present tonight.  The Thrashers’ first goal came less than a minute into the first; the second came with about 30 seconds left in the third.  The Flyers cannot keep entering a game flat and then spend the last 5 minutes scrambling to hang on to a lead.  That style is not going to win games against their own division rivals, let alone in the post-season.  At this stage one individual can’t solve the problem; it’s a team issue.

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