Flyers vs. Blackhawks 12/26/2008
The Philadelphia Flyers end their short Christmas break – just two days – on the road against the Chicago Blackhawks, a team that has rested since December 20. That should work in the Flyers’ favor since anything beyond 2-3 days off usually results in a hockey team that needs at least a period to regain their legs.
I’ve been anticipating this contest since the schedule was released back in the summer. The Blackhawks are among the most exciting teams in the NHL with their young core of Kane, Toews, and Sharp. Meanwhile, the Flyers feature their own young core, especially on the red-hot Philly Sky Line. Even the leadership for both squads is young: Jonathan Toews is 20, and Mike Richards is 23.
I expect we’ll see a high-energy, offense-driven game with good skating and aggressive checking. In other words – everything that makes hockey must-see-TV.
Back for the intermission. – FF
First intermission. Flyers 1 – Blackhawks 2
A slow start for the Flyers, probably due to their travelling difficulties. Apparently one of the nation’s busiest airports had some runway issues which caused the Flyers to land late, missing their morning skate. Thus, the defense crumbled in front of Martin Biron, and the Flyers allowed two goals early in the game.
This year’s unsung heroes for the Flyers are the third- and fourth-line grinders. Mike Richards scored on a rebound from Arron Asham’s shot. And the Metropolit line initiated the long period of Flyers puck control in Chicago’s end late in the second period. It’s that style of team contribution that the Flyers will need to be successful as they move closer to the playoffs.
Moving into the second period, the Flyers must tighten up in their own end. They gave the Blackhawks confidence early, and the Hawks are just putting quick shots on Biron at every opportunity. Martin Havlat isn’t going to be held off forever. That means the Flyers need to apply the type of team-checking they bring into games against Washington and Pittsburgh.
Second intermission. Flyers 1 – Blackhawks 2
Flyers surviving, Blackhawks thriving, and a 5-on-3 to start the third.
Without some stellar saves from Biron, this game is easily 8-1 by now. And Havlat would have a combination of goals and assists. And Patrick Kane would be first star of the game.
If I were John Stevens, I might consider some serious skating for these guys tomorrow. Even if they do win tonight.
End of game. Flyers 1 – Blackhawks 5
Marty Biron held the Hawks off as long as was possible, but multiple 5-on-3’s and other penalty kills during the third period ended any hope the Flyers had of coming back.
Starting games in the hole is quickly becoming a pattern for the Flyers, and they need to set breaking the habit as an early New Year’s resolution. Digging out from behind never bodes well for teams that want to have long runs into the playoffs. Fortunately, the Flyers play tomorrow night against Columbus, giving them an opportunity to shift momentum without dwelling too long on tonight’s loss.