Flyers vs. Islanders 12/9/2008
If you’ve caught any of the news articles or pieces on the Flyers’ website, you already know the main issues: Flyers weak at 5-on-5 play, Matt Carle still out with back spasms, and Joffrey Lupul elevated to second line status. So I won’t rehash here.
What I will say is that Joffrey Lupul has a lot yet to prove to me. He has looked rather okay to me of late, and okay just doesn’t cut it in the NHL. Now maybe that’s because he requires more ice time to get his legs going; there are players like that who improve the more they play. Lupul will have all the time and accompanying talent he should require on Jeff Carter’s wing. It’s crunch time for the young winger.
First intermission. Islanders 2 – Flyers 0.
The Islanders arrived in Philadelphia late last night, but at least they came ready to play. The Flyers sat on the heels for a period, watched the Islanders walk towards the net, and took sloppy penalties along the boards. Two points tonight would tie them with the Penguins in the standings, and they won’t get those points with lazy play.
God bless the fourth liners! They have consistently been the best puck possession unit of the bunch lately, and they were rewarded with a much deserved goal tonight. Riley Cote set the stage by drawing a penalty earlier in the period. Then, he threw a huge hit on Jon Sim and directed the puck out between the hash marks. Arron Asham snatched that puck and put it past Yann Denis. It was a crisp play that resembled what I expected to see from our top three units.
This team needs to adopt the attitude demonstrated by Cote, Asham and Darroll Powe. The game has started; don’t get left behind!
Second intermission. Islanders 2 – Flyers 3.
FINALLY! It took almost half the game, but the Flyers’ top nine forwards found their stride. Mike Richards, as always, led the way with his shot blocking and terrific playmaking. His excellent sense of timing created the play that resulted in Darroll Powe’s first NHL tally. Scottie Upshall is just a ball of energy, and that energy contributed to Carter’s go-ahead goal.
The Flyers aren’t out of the woods quite yet, though. From the puck that clanged off the post to Doug Weight’s near miss on a deflection to the penalty killers who forced Marty Biron to show his stuff, this Islanders squad does not go down without a fight. It’s going to require another period of sustained intensity for the Flyers to get out of the Wachovia Center with two points.
End of game. Islanders 3 – Flyers 4.
Riley Cote earned one of tonight’s three stars of the game, and there couldn’t be a better guy to see receive the honor. Cote was never drafted and played in pratically every North American minor hockey league in existence. He spent multiple years with the Philadelphia Phantoms, won a Calder Cup with the team in 2005, and waited some more before finally gaining a roster spot with the big club.
I will never forget watching him skate quietly after the ice following his first NHL goal against the Montreal Canadiens. When asked why he didn’t celebrate, Cote pointed out that the team was losing by quite a bit. If the team wasn’t winning, then there wasn’t a reason to celebrate. The guy has character, and it’s great to see him earn a bit of recognition for his hockey club.
A few stat notes:
1. The broadcast guys spent significant time discussing Mike Sillinger’s faceoff prowess – 64% success rate for the evening. On the Flyers’ side, Jeff Carter pulled out a 63% effort, unusually successful for the high-scoring forward.
2. Kimmo Timonen led the Flyers with a plus-three rating for the night. Even for Timonen, that’s pretty good.
3. I talked about Joffrey Lupul in the pregame. In 18:53 of ice time, he was a minus-one with three attempts blocked and 2 giveaways. Not Lupul’s best outing, especially considering that he had enough minutes to get going. Perhaps he was trying too hard?