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Flyers vs. Canucks 12/30/2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

When things go wrong, people look for answers. Why did the bad things happen? And how do we ensure it never occurs again?

In the aftermath of the Midwestern portion of the so-called “Disney on Ice” roadtrip, various Flyers sources have attempted explanations for their Sloppiness on Ice. Blame the lack of practice time. Blame the injuries. Blame the lack of energy. Blame the fans on the road.

Blame whatever or whomever you wish. The best teams find a way to navigate any treacherous waters without sinking the ship. The Flyers have yet to prove that they are something beyond a momentum team, that the high-flying December was more than just a peak on the roller coaster and the lowly woes of October were merely a blip on the radar.

Tonight’s game in Vancouver is a golden opportunity to demonstrate true resilience in this young team. And given the confidence they should have (the Flyers last faced Vancouver a year ago in an 8-2 victory), the Flyer should be able to overcome.

First intermission. Flyers 2 – Canucks 1
Snarl best defines the first period of this one. The Canucks compete fiercely, and the Flyers responded in kind with big hits and several scrums along the boards. The hockey was entertaining, and the rest of the evening should prove exciting to watch.

Of major concern, however, was the noncall just seconds into the game when Simon Gagne was hit from behind by Kevin Bieksa after the puck had left the area. In a league where so much time has been devoted to discussion of dangerous, disrespectful hits and improved officiating, it is reprehensible that there was no call on that play.

Interference applies when the puck has left the immediate area – it was in the corner when Bieksa hit Gagne around the door to the Flyers’ bench. Boarding and roughing may apply when a player is hit from behind, especially within range of the boards. Either would have been a valid call.

Gagne will miss the rest of the game with an undisclosed “upper body injury”. Given the way he favored his shoulder as he exited the ice, I’d wager a guess that he doesn’t have a concussion – which is extremely fortunate. Hopefully, he won’t be out for long.

Second intermission. Flyers 3 – Canucks 2
Congrats to Jon Kalinski on his first NHL goal! Not really a beauty, though. Josh Gratton’s pass, intended for Mike Knuble, bounced off a Vancouver defenseman and popped onto the stick of Kalinski. The shot was well-placed and has the Flyers on top to start the third.

Corey Schneider has a fantastic glove hand. He stopped Scott Hartnell cold late in the period to keep his team within one. Hartnell received a breakaway pass from Carter, and Schneider followed the whole play perfectly. He held the far post to force Hartnell to the backhand, then used his glove to follow the puck to defend against the shot. Beautiful move from the rookie!

Postgame. Flyers 3 – Canucks 2
Whew! Talk about a white-knuckler!

The Flyers know how to make things interesting. After failing to discover Schneider’s weakness, the Flyers found it difficult to stop the Sedin line. Mike Knuble’s tripping penalty with seconds remaining in the game left the Flyers with half a minute of 6-on-4 to kill. Two missed shots later, the Flyers won the game by one goal.

That’s the way to regain momentum in a West Coast roadtrip. Not only did all the Flyers goals come at even strength – something they struggled with about a month ago – they won the game with a combination of tough defense and a strong forecheck. Biron was stellar in net. This was the team that climbed from the 0-3-3 deficit to second in the Atlantic Division.

Now it’s on to Anaheim!

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. John permalink
    Wednesday, December 31, 2008 12:24 am

    Yay Flyers! That puts the Avs within striking distance of Vancouver. We were four points back with one less game played coming into tonight. At this rate Colorado will be in first in the Northwest in no time! Well, except for Calgary.. 😉

  2. John permalink
    Wednesday, December 31, 2008 12:25 am

    In other news, I’m calling it a night. See you around FF.

    And in case I’m not on here tomorrow: Happy New Year!

  3. John permalink
    Wednesday, December 31, 2008 12:26 am

    Er, today. In case I’m not on here anymore /today/. 🙂

  4. Wednesday, December 31, 2008 12:48 am

    Sorry I missed it – was busy trying to catch some postgame comments.

    Happy to see the Flyers helping your team out!

    Happy new year’s eve!

  5. John permalink
    Wednesday, December 31, 2008 8:51 am

    And the Oilers lost to boot!

    Hmm.. my head must not have been on right last night. It’s only December 31st today. Oh well, happy new year all the same. 🙂

  6. John permalink
    Wednesday, December 31, 2008 4:22 pm

    You know something? I just realized there is a /slight/ flaw in my calculations for Budaj and Raycroft. Looks like I’ll have to fix that sometime..

  7. John permalink
    Wednesday, December 31, 2008 5:00 pm

    Here is a comparison of each goalie’s opponent’s stats, counting the entire list and then counting each team only once. Don’t worry, I’m only posting the final tally, so there isn’t going to be another overly long records list. 😉

    Budaj:
    Total Games: 1,041
    Total Wins: 541
    Total Points: 1,205
    Win Percentage: 52.2%

    Total Games: 687
    Total Wins: 324
    Total Points: 729
    Win Percentage: 47.2%

    Raycroft:
    Total Games: 253
    Total Wins: 112
    Total Points: 270
    Win Percentage: 44.2%

    Total Games: 215
    Total Wins: 102
    Total Points: 240
    Win Percentage: 47.4%

    * Stats, percentages and records are as of 12/30/08 and should be correct *

  8. John permalink
    Wednesday, December 31, 2008 11:55 pm

    In case you’re wondering, yes, that loss by Budaj did nothing to help his cause in my eyes. 🙂

    Also, it’s a few minutes early, but better than a day early I guess: Happy New Year, FF!

  9. Thursday, January 1, 2009 9:27 am

    I can understand your goalie frustration too well – that Avalanche situation has shades of Philly goaltender controversy all over it.

    Happy New Year!

  10. John permalink
    Thursday, January 1, 2009 11:31 am

    You mean as in Biron and Niittymaki? Because I didn’t know there was anything going on in the Philly net.. Granted, I’ve been more worried about the Budaj-Raycroft issue, but could you enlighten me?

  11. Thursday, January 1, 2009 8:14 pm

    Well, there isn’t exactly controversy yet because the Flyers have been winning. When you’re winning, it’s a tandem; when you’re losing, it’s a controversy.

    Philly’s just famous for weakness in goal, which usually ends up in a goaltender controversy. I can’t even remember all the goalies we tried in the late 90’s – Vanbiesbrouck, Boucher, Cechmanek, Esche – it was a revolving door.

  12. John permalink
    Thursday, January 1, 2009 8:15 pm

    The classic “winning cures everything” approach, huh? 🙂

  13. Thursday, January 1, 2009 8:51 pm

    For sure.

    Biron and Niittymaki both need contracts come the end of this season, and there’s no one in the pipeline right now to replace either. We’re tight against the cap. So something here has to give.

    And if the Flyers weren’t winning, you’d see more articles about that.

  14. John permalink
    Thursday, January 1, 2009 9:18 pm

    Man, I completely forgot about the contract issue! Sounds like Holmgren has a tough choice here. Who would you pick if you could only keep one guy?

    Side note, even with the Flyers doing as well as they are, I still don’t see many articles about them. Too much stuff being published due to the false hope generated by the Eagles. 🙂

  15. Thursday, January 1, 2009 9:59 pm

    Oh, I’m not sure yet. During the regular season this year, these two tend to be interchangeable. If Biron could rediscover the level he found in last year’s playoffs, this is an easy choice. But Niittymaki is also a big-game goalie. If I had to decide today, Biron by a nose.

    I stopped paying attention to the Eagles when, for the second time this season, they failed to score a touchdown properly because they stopped to celebrate too early. That kind of crap is why they won’t win anything. Which should leave people with plenty of time to chat about hockey come February 🙂

    I’m out – night!

  16. John permalink
    Thursday, January 1, 2009 10:24 pm

    Yeah, it’s hard to go against Biron after last year’s postseason {And it even is /officially/ last year’s now!} performance. Still, I’m sure you’d rather just keep both.

    I got fed up with the sportswriters changing their story after every game. Either you want everyone in the organization axed, or you believe they can turn it around. You don’t get to jump back and forth each week.

    Hey, did you get a chance to watch any of the Winter Classic? I really didn’t like its 1:00 P.M. Eastern start time.. I only got to watch pieces of it as a result. But I guess NBC had other things it wanted to air later on. Either that or somebody in the NHL screwed up yet again in the PR department.

    Anyway, see you around FF! And here’s hoping hockey will start getting some more attention with many NFL squads’ seasons over. 🙂

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