Henrik Lundqvist had 32 saves as he led the way for the New York Rangers' 2-0 win over the visiting Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon.
Brad Richards netted the game-winning goal in the first minute of the second period, while Carl Hagelin scored his first career NHL goal.
Sergei Bobrovsky, after getting the win yesterday against the Montreal Canadiens, suffered the loss despite saving 30 of the Rangers' 32 shots. The Flyers' inability to score today extends their goal-less streak to 80:06 dating back to the Claude Giroux with less than 6 seconds in the second period yesterday.
Tensions were high entering the game, due to the Wayne Simmonds/Sean Avery alleged racist/sexist insult incident in the pre-season and all the hype surrounding the impending Winter Classic.
To address such intensity, Zac Rinaldo dropped the gloves with Brandon Prust only 4 seconds after the opening faceoff. Rinaldo ended the bout with his jersey covering his face, but he held his own against the New York pugilist.
Shortly after the fight, the first scoring chance of the game came via a Scott Harnell breakaway. Lundqvist denied the attempt.
After the scoring chance, multiple players started jawing after the whistle which led to coincidental minors for Simmonds and Prust.
The two decided to scrap once they exited the penalty box, engaging in a fight where both participants landed good punches.
The tension seemed to lessen over the remaining minutes in the first period, as the Rangers controlled most of the offensive chances in the first twenty minutes. Despite being outshot 12-7, the Flyers defense didn't break, keeping the Rangers off the scoreboard.
To start the second period, the Rangers tried to cheat their way to a goal. After being decked by Braydon Coburn in the crease, Ryan Callahan set up a screen which enabled Richards to slide the puck over the goal line with his glove.
The play was initially counted as a goal, but the situation was shipped up to Toronto, and after they looked at the replay, made made the right call keeping the game scoreless.
The Rangers put the puck in the net shortly after the Richards gaffe, but this time it was legal. As Andrej Meszaros was still in the box for his elbowing call from the first period, Richards ripped home a slapshot from the top of the circle to Bobrovsky's left eluding Callahan, who was once again screening the Philly netminder. Richards' eighth of the season gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead at 54 seconds.
Richards' goal was part of a period where the Rangers outshot the Flyers 10-6 and entered the third period with a 1-0 lead over Philly.
Five minutes into the third period, the second goal of the game was scored and it put the Flyers in a two-goal hole with only 15 minutes left.
Ryan McDonagh fired away from the left point and the rebound found Hagelin, who was standing in the slot alone right in front of Bob. After putting a backhander on Bob, Hagelin's second chance bounced up in the air and to the left of the Flyers' net. Bobrovsky was still looking around when Hagelin batted the puck into the cage just before it hit the ice.
The final fifteen minutes saw a slew of shots from Philly, but not too many scoring chances. Lundqvist was forced to make several saves, but none of the spectacular variety were needed as the Rangers won the first of six against their perennial rivals.
One has to wonder if Peter Laviolette is trying to send a message by starting Bobrovsky today. After starting yesterday's game less than 24 hours ago, the obvious choice for today would have been Ilya Bryzgalov.
Is Laviolette trying to make Bryzgalov work harder and focus better in his next game so he won't be pulled again? Bobrovsky is hot, as of late, but most times goalies don't start back-to-back games on consecutive days. There has to be a reason behind the decision.
Notes: The Flyers have lost three straight to the Rangers (0-2-1) and have been out scored 12-2 in that span...Saturday marked the first time the Flyers have been shut out all season long. The Atlanta Thrashers hung a 1-0 defeat on Philly at home last March 31...The Flyers have been shut out back-to-back games at Madison Square Garden (7-0 loss on March 6th)...This was the first time the Flyers didn't allow a first period goal since last Thursday's 2-1 win against the Phoenix Coyotes...Prust's 12 PIM is the most he's recorded in a single game since he posted 15 PIM against the New York Islanders on March 31...The Flyers out hit the Rangers 19-7 in the first period...The Flyers have given up the first goal in each of their last five games (2-3-0)...The Flyers fell to 2-1-1 against the rest of the Atlantic Division this season (PIT 0-0-0, NYR 0-1-0, NJD 1-0-1, NYI 1-0-0).
This week, I will be adding Corsi to my weekly stat analysis. Corsi is a stat that measures shots for and against while a player is on the ice, so the theory is the higher the Corsi, the more effective the player is and the more value he has to his team.
The Flyers had an up and down week, defeating Toronto 4-2 on Monday, then dropping back-to-back contests, 5-1 in Montreal on Wednesday and a 9-8 scorefest with Winnipeg on Thursday. The Orange and Black then rebounded with a solid victory Saturday against Carolina by a 5-1 count.
Let’s get to this week’s 3 stars:
Jaromir Jagr -- Jagr scored 5 goals and had 2 assists in the past four games. He is tied for second on the team with 11 points and is a plus-3. He currently has a relative Corsi of 8.2 which is third highest on the team. He continues his stellar work on the power play and has started to be a force at even strength as well.
Scott Hartnell -- After a tough week last week, Hartnell rebounded with his addition to the Jagr-Giroux line with 4 goals and 5 assists for 9 total points. He has also vaulted into the plus-minus lead with a +5 and is tied with Jagr for second on the team in scoring with 11 points. His relative Corsi is a respectable 5.3, which puts him 6th best on the team. Hartnell has earned power-play minutes with his improved play and his overall ice time is creeping up as well. As long as he plays determined and is willing to get dirty in front of the goal, Hartnell should continue to be successful.
Claude Giroux -- "G" was also very good as he helped get his linemates going and himself as well. Claude had 2 goals and 5 assists in the four games which gives him 15 points on the season, good enough to lead the Flyers. That also ties him with Ottawa's Jason Spezza and Thomas Vanek of Buffalo for second-most in the NHL behind the surprising Phil Kessel of Toronto. Four of his goals have come via the power play and he has netted a pair of game winners as well, both team highs. His relative Corsi of 6.1 is good enough for 5th on the Flyers. Giroux has grown into a true star in the NHL and if he continues his maturation and growth, he could be the next big superstar in Philadelphia.
Now for my 3 duds of the week:
Matt Carle -- Carle simply had a horrible week without Chris Pronger, putting up a minus-6 in 4 games and only adding 2 assists on the offensive side. His lack of direction and focus when Pronger is out of the lineup is scary. He becomes very tentative and unsure of himself, which leads to poor decision making and turnovers -- which was in full display in Thursday's loss. Carle needs to play the same way regardless of who his defense partner is.
Ilya Bryzgalov -- Bryz had a tough week, going 1-2 and surrendering 10 goals in 3 games. His goals-against has gone up to 3.16 and his save percentage has dropped to .880. After the loss to the Jets, the Russian took all the blame and said he was “lost in the woods”. He thankfully found himself after a good performance against Carolina. For the Flyers to be a playoff contender, Bryz must be solid and consistent.
Team defense -- Team defense has been pretty bad the past week since Pronger suffered his freak eye injury against Toronto. The rearguards were awful against the Habs, giving up 14 goals in 24 hours. Overall, they were tagged for 17 goals last week and that is never a good sign. The fowards have to support the defense better and the defense has to stop turning the puck over. Hopefully, this is just a temporary glitch and will stabilize itself soon.
That is all for this week’s 3-on-3. Join me next week when look back on 3 games this week, Wednesday at Buffalo, Thursday hosting the Devils and Saturday against Columbus.
The Flyers won their second straight game to open this 2011-12 season, with a 3-0 shutout of the New Jersey Devils at the Rock.
Ilya Bryzgalov provided the magic so many had hoped he would, saving all 20 of the Devils' shots and providing the Flyers first shutout since the 2010 playoffs.
Claude Giroux opened the scoring with a goal in the first while both Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds scored in the third period to extend the Flyers' lead.
Both teams power-play units failed to score a goal despite having a combined 13 man advantage opportunities.
The Flyers had the first several chances of the game after Petr Sykora was sent to the penalty box for high-sticking Kimmo Timonen 27 seconds in. The visitors had two shots on net, including a Jakub Voracek attempt in the crease that was turned away by the ageless Martin Brodeur. Despite coming up empty, they kept up offensive pressure for the next few minutes until Zac Rinaldo was called for tripping Eric Boulton.
Even with the scare of a Sean Couturier broken stick, the Flyers killed off the Devils' power play and returned to dominating the action until potting the first score of the night.
As James van Riemsdyk guarded the puck from a few Devils in the corner, he slid the puck to a wide-open Giroux in front who smacked it past Brodeur for his first goal of this season.
Late in the first period, the Flyers almost extended their lead to two goals with a short-handed breakaway by Andreas Nodl. After breaking up a pass between two Devils defenders, Nodl was off to the races taking a high shot on Brodeur that hit the New Jersey netminder and rolled wide of the net. Nodl's chance was the last solid scoring opportunity for either team in the opening 20 minutes.
The Flyers entered the second period carrying the momentum, despite the need to kill off 21 more seconds in Braydon Coburn's holding penalty.
To start the second, Coburn returned to the penalty box for boarding 63 seconds after being released from the box for his first period penalty. Killing off their third shorthanded situation of the game, the Flyers returned to producing offensive pressure in the Devils' defensive zone. Highlighted by a power play due to a Patrik Elias holding call and a Danny Briere shot that rang off the pipe, the Flyers once again came within inches of extending their lead.
Continuing the penalty-taking trend, Rinaldo drew David Clarkson into a holding infraction late in the period. The Flyers didn't enjoy a power play for long as Matt Carle was flagged for tripping 24 seconds later. .
The Devils had a series of quick scoring chances in a vain attempt to get on the scoreboard, including one which resulted in Bryzgalov doing a split on the ice as time expired.
Read played strongly in the season opener against the Bruins and through two periods against the Devils, so it was only fitting he scored the first goal in the third period to extend the Flyers' lead. Walking into the slot, Read let go of a wrister that squeaked through Brodeur's right arm and right hip and dribbled into the net at the 2:41 mark.
This wasn't the end for the Flyers as Elias was called for tripping six seconds after Read's goal. The Flyers didn't score on their fourth power play of the night, but it led to a Simmonds goal three seconds after the man advantage.
Fighting for a rebound in front of the net, Simmonds put the puck home while on shoved to the ice and with several Devils on top of him. The tally was his first as a Flyer and his second point in the Orange and Black.
Simmonds wasn't done putting the hurt on the Devils as he landed a strong jab to Clarkson's face in a fight later in the period which concluded with a takedown. To make matters worse for Clarkson and his teammates, he received a minor for unsportsmanlike conduct and put the Flyers on their sixth man advantage of the game.
The remaining half of the third period saw three more minors, but no more goals as the Flyers held on to extend their season opening winning streak to two games.
Notes: Bryzgalov's shutout tonight ended Philadelphia's 101-game streak without blanking ana opponent...The last Flyers shutout came when Michael Leighton turned away the Canadiens in Game 4 of the 2010 Eastern Conference Finals at Montreal...Philly has won its first two games on the road for the second time in three seasons. In 2009, the club topped Carolina and New Jersey to begin the year...The Devils have lost three straight season openers...Saturday marked the first time the Flyers scored first in a game since Game 2 against the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in May.. This also marked the first time Coburn had four or more penalty minutes in a game since April 3 (7 PIM vs. New York Rangers)... The Flyers were 0-for-8 while the Devils were punchless in five chances...Simmonds' last fight before tonight happened on February 10 against Ryan Craig of the Pittsburgh Penguins...Giroux is the only Flyer with a goal in each game this season..Chris Pronger, Andrej Meszaros, and Simmonds all have at least a point in each game thus far.
On Thursday night, the Flyers returned to the site where their Stanley Cup dreams ended last season.
This time, the Flyers had a new goalie, several new players, and a desire for revenge.
The result was a 2-1 victory on a night the Boston Bruins raised their 2011 Stanley Cup banner to the rafters.
After Brad Marchand scored the first goal of the NHL season, Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek each scored for Philly within a 42-second span late in the first period.
Ilya Bryzgalov, fresh from his $51 million, nine-year deal, made quite the impression in his first regular-season start for Philly, saving 22 of 23 shots on net. Chris Pronger led all Flyers in ice time with 24:34 while providing the secondary assist on Giroux's goal.
And Jaromir Jagr's return from a three-year Russian exile resulted in his 1,600th NHL point.
The game didn't start out strong for the Flyers as the Bruins provided the early offensive onslaught and the game's first goal.
With Zac Rinaldo in the box for holding the stick, the defending champions took advantage. Tyler Seguin completed a pass from blue line-to-blue line landing on the stick of Marchand, who weaseled his way past the defense for a breakaway. Going to his backhand, the hulking forward slid the puck past Bryzgalov for a 1-0 lead at 9:42.
The Bruins dictated play for a few more minutes before the Flyers started pushing back. That surge from Philly resulted in Matt Read being slashed by Nathan Horton in Tim Thomas' crease with just under two minutes left in the opening period.
With the man advantage, Jagr used his still-sharp puck-handling skills to send Giroux up the middle. He broke into the Bruins' zone kicking the puck to his stick and deked Thomas for an easy score -- the Flyers' first goal of the new season.
Forty-seven seconds later, and with under three seconds left in the first period, Voracek registered his first goal as a Flyer. Completing a spin-o-rama with the puck, Voracek managed to put his shot between Thomas's legs to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead heading to intermission.
Bryzgalov recorded his first big save of the season midway through the second period. As Marchand stormed to the top of Bryzgalov's crease, he received a pass from David Krejci. Going against the grain, Marchand took a shot on net with Bryzgalov sliding away from the play. Despite his momentum moving him right, Bryzgalov was able to glove the shot with a flourish and keep the score 2-1.
The rest of the second period was pretty eventless despite two Flyers penalties in the last five minutes. Although the Bruins had three minutes and eighteen seconds on the power play, the Flyers out shot Boston 2-0 to close out the middle stanza. To open the third period, the Bruins had 41 seconds left on Wayne Simmonds' holding penalty.
With the Bruins applying severe pressure on multiple power plays during the third period, Kimmo Timonen provided the save of the game.
Simmonds was sitting in the box again, this time for hooking, and Horton found himself with a wide-open net on a rebound attempt while Bryzgalov was out of position. Coming across the crease to protect the wide open net, Timonen was able to block the puck with his stick and move it away from the net.
The Bruins had another favorable chance later in the power play when Seguin whiffed on a chance at the side of the net with Bryzgalov on his butt and out of position.
Near the end of the game, the Bruins kept fighting and fighting in hopes that one more shot would find it's way past Bryzgalov. Unfortunately, it never happened as the Flyers held on to start off their third straight season on the right foot.
Many of the new faces made a difference in tonight's game. Voracek had a goal, Jagr (who also drew a penalty late in the game) and Simmonds had an assist, and Max Talbot looked strong on the penalty kill while leading the team with high four hits. Read drew the penalty that led to Giroux's goal and Sean Couturier formed a strong penalty-killing duo with Talbot.
The team, as a whole, came out pretty sluggish and unmotivated to start the game -- but that can be chalked up to the adrenaline rush the Bruins felt from their pregame ceremony. However, late in the first period, Peter Laviolette's boys started looking strong and resembled a team that could find its way to the playoffs.
Bryzgalov had a strong night despite a shot that fooled him in the middle of the third period. As a shot leaked through a standing Bryzgalov, the puck landed in the crease and towards the net with Horton on the verge of putting it home. However, Bryzgalov covered and kept the score the same. The team seemed to play confident in front of both him and Pronger tonight.
The Flyers look to start the season 2-0-0 for the first time since 2009-2010 when they travel to New Jersey and play the Devils at The Rock on Saturday night at 7 p.m.
Notes: The Flyers have now won three straight season-openers (all on the road)...The Flyers snapped a five-game losing streak in Boston with their win tonight -- the win also snaps a six-game losing streak to the Bruins overall...Jagr's assist was also his 90th career point against the Bruins...Marchand now has three goals in seven regular season games against the Flyers...The Flyers out- shot the Bruins 25-12 in the first two periods of the game (13-6 in the 1st, 12-6 in the 2nd). The Flyers blocked 17 shots while the Bruins blocked only nine...Chris Pronger had 5 blocked shots alone.
What can one expect from the Philadephia Flyers this season?
Trading away the captain and an elite goal-scorer for one of the league's best goalies and young talent is a bold move, and we will find out soon enough whether or not Paul Holmgren's tumultuous offseason will pay off for the Flyers and their fans.
You, me, and every other Flyers' fan on the planet has no idea what's going to happen with the newest batch of warriors just yet, but is the mystery surrounding the Flyers the biggest question in relation to the upcoming NHL season? Here are some more topics to think about as the puck gets ready to drop on the league's 94th course.
Will Crosby Ever Be The Same?
He missed 48 games last season (41 regular-season and seven playoff) due to a high hit from former Cap David Steckel in the Winter Classic compounded by a Victor Hedman check four days later.
Nine months wasn't enough time for Crosby to fully recover from the hit in January. He said he wouldn't play in the first week of the season, and that was backed up when the Pens placed him on injured reserve. Concussions affect every player from every sport differently, but taking three-quarters of a calendar year to recover from one concussion is a pretty serious matter.
One has to think he tries to comeback from this injury just purely on how important of a commodity and personality he is to the success of the NHL, but what if he's rushed to comeback before he's 100 percent? In his first game back, if he takes an elbow to the head or has his face smashed up against the glass, is that the end of his career?
Can The Devils Become Cup Contenders?
With the dual losses of Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner to the St. Louis Blues and the affects of Marty Brodeur's age becoming evident, at first glance the obvious answer is no. However, the Devils did turn it on near the end of the season -- making a push for the playoffs after sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference for most of the year.
Going 28-10-3 in their last 41 games, the Devils could use the remnants of last season's late momentum in a similar fashion to how the Flyers carried Big Mo from the 2010 playoffs to the start of the 2010-2011 regular season. Not to mention the fact Ilya Kovalchuk is now settling down and the team couldn't possibly be plagued again with as many injuries to start the year.
How Will Ville Leino Perform in Buffalo?
Leino was a big part of the Flyers 2010 Cup run and helped our club maintain the top spot in the Eastern Conference for most of the 2010-2011 regular season, but he had a lot of help in the process.
One could argue a lot of Leino's success was due to the fact he was on a line with puck mover Danny Briere and body-mover Scott Hartnell. Most players could post a 50-point season playing on that line. It's true the Sabres ranked in the top 10 in goals-per-game last year and that Austrian sniper Thomas Vanek had over 70 points, but these aren't stats that help Leino's case.
The Flyers placed third in the league in GPG and Vanek plays the same position as Leino. The trio of Jason Pominville/Derek Roy/ Leino could be a forceful combo for the Sabres, if they choose to use it, but will any line the Sabres form with Leino be as effective as the LBH line?
Will The Capitals Do Something to Get Over the Playoff Hump?
The Washington Capitals have won the Southeast Division each of the last four years, but have advanced to the conference semifinals only twice.
Losing to the Flyers in seven games back in the 2008 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals and then losing to the eighth-seeded Montreal Canadiens in seven games in the 2010 quarterfinals, the Caps have only frustrated their fans in the postseason after dominating during the regular season. The only team they've beaten in the playoffs over the last four years is the New York Rangers. Granted they've done it twice, it took the second-seeded Capitals seven games to edge the Rangers in the quarterfinals back in 2009 -- done after going down 1-3 in the set.
With the additions of Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer, Roman Hamrlik, and most importantly Tomas Vokoun, perhaps the Red can rock their way into the semifinals for the first time since their trip to the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals.
How Good Will The Winnipeg Jets Be?
The Atlanta Thrashers weren't too good in 2010-2011, so the expectations for them to make the 2012 playoffs aren't too high. Since the team has moved to a city more focused and passionate about hockey, there will be more pressure and emphasis on success -- however that's defined. This can push the Jets to make the playoffs, or at least within a couple points of the playoff picture, but the amount of travel this team will be forced to undertake is likely to hurt their chances for this season.
The divisions will realign next year, but this season the Jets will be making cross-continent trips just to play teams in their division. A die-hard fanbase combined with a bit of adversity will either make or break the Jets this season.
Will Two Teams From The Northwest Division Make The Playoffs?
It's safe to say the Vancouver Canucks will make the playoffs again after not doing much roster shuffling in the wake of blowing a 2-0 lead in the Cup Finals.
The rest of the division, however, missed the playoffs last year. Each of the four teams can make an argument that they could reach the postseason. The Calgary Flames finished the season similar to the Devils, as they went 23-9-7 down the stretch but fell just out of the playoff picture. If they start out the season a little better a playoff berth is within grasp. The Minnesota Wild were able to keep most of their defense and goaltending together while grabbing two offensive-minded forwards, both from San Jose. Although they lost Brent Burns and Martin Havlat, the Wild now have Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi to help out Mikko Koivu. Will the Wild finally have enough offense to return to the playoffs?
Despite young rosters and a promise of contention in future days, the Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers aren't really out of the picture either. The Avs now have a strong goaltending duo while the Oilers will audition another young talent in first-overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Can one of the two squeak into the playoffs?
How Will Phoenix Play Without Ilya Bryzgalov?
Bryzgalov, without a doubt, was a huge part to Phoenix's success last season. Without the ability to rely on his goaltending, it remains to be seen if Coyotes can make their way back to the playoffs.
Jason LaBarbera was the other goalie for the Coyotes last year, posting a record of 7-6-3 with a save percentage of .909 and a high goals-against average of 3.26. Mike Smith could make a push for the starting job with a record of 13-6-1 in 2010-2011 and gaining some pressure experience in the 2011 playoffs, but his save percentage of .899 doesn't scream top-notch goalie. Curtis McElhinney is in the system as well, but can you turn to a guy with only 67 games over four seasons in the NHL? Add in lack of playoff experience (four games in total among the three goalies) and it doesn't look too good.
Who Will Come Out of The West?
It's easy to say the Canucks will win, but teams around them have gotten stronger this off-season. The Central Division alone will boast three teams that may likely cause the Canucks problems.
The Blackhawks, who were one goal away from upsetting Vancouver in the West quarterfinals, have added grit to their roster and are getting some key players (Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith) to focus harder on reaching the Finals again.
The Predators also gave the Canucks some problems in the 2011 playoffs. With the experience and confidence likely gained from their first playoff series win in franchise history, the Preds are looking to reach the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time ever.
The Red Wings, as always, are always a provisional Stanley Cup contender. Perhaps with strong goaltending from Jimmy Howard, and if the veteran team can endure the grind of another season, the Red Wings could knock the Canucks out. From the Pacific Division, both the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings could advance to the Finals. The Sharks added a strong defender in Brent Burns and a proven playoff performer in Martin Havlat, while the Kings added Mike Richards to an already playoff-ready roster.