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Flyers vs. Hurricanes 12/06/2008

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Carolina Hurricanes under newly hired head coach Paul Maurice dominated the game territorially. Whether on the power play or five-on-five, the ‘Canes worked hard along the boards, earning numerous opportunities to take on Antero Niittymaki. But with the help of yet another short-handed tally from Mike Richards and several timely saves from the Finnish netminder, the Flyers managed to pull another white rabbit from the hat in Raleigh.

Jeff Carter regained the lead in NHL goal scoring tonight. His third overtime game-winner of the season put him in first in that category as well, pulling ahead of teammate Mike Richards and New Jersey Devil Zach Parise – the only other two NHLers with more than one OT goal. Carter is also tied for first league-wide in game-winners with 4. He’s on pace for a 60-goal season.

Ossi Vaananen, Andrew Alberts, Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn all performed extremely well this evening. Vaananen in particular stood out with several heads-up plays on the pnealty kill. He was a plus-two on the night with 5 blocked shots and 4 hits. 

Alberts, normally a tried-and-true, stay-at-home D, actually became involved in the offense: 3 shots with 5 attempts blocked. Timonen, per his usual, logged the most minutes of any Flyer (27:34) while blocked shots (5), taking bumps and bruises from the puck and the opposition players, and continuing to dominate through it all. Coburn also gained momentum from his strong outing on Thursday, registering 6 hits.

Luca Sbisa showed his age this evening. His three penalties were somewhat forced errors, but the latter two were avoidable. I would caution anyone against using this game to say the rookie is finally hitting a wall, however. All rookies experience a few lumps along the way, and I expect we’ll see Sbisa bounce back quickly from his.

Other observations:

  •  Rumors flew in Philadelphia that Simon Gagne could be experiencing recurring concussion symptoms since his departure from the game on Thursday night. He certainly did not play like one, heading directly into high traffic areas and winning puck battles by the boards. He even got into it a mini-scrap with Eric Staal during the third period.
  • Lasse Kukkonen only saw 9:38 of ice time tonight. The next lowest ice time from a Flyer defenseman was Luca Sbisa with 16:32. Normally when a defenseman like Matt Carle goes down, you hope to see his replacement step up and take advantage of his opportunity to play. Kukkonen has yet to reveal any hidden talents. With Randy Jones and Ryan Parent getting healthy in a hurry, Kukkonen’s time may be running out.
  • Eric Staal may be offensively frustrated at the moment, but when he finally gets one, watch out! This guy handles the puck like a phenomenon. Carter routinely faces the best centers in the league and appeared to struggle with Staal at several points throughout the night. We haven’t seen the best of the eldest Staal yet. And that’s frightening.

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