Flyers vs. Canucks 12/30/2008
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!