It shouldn't have even come to this.
The Philadelphia Flyers should have walked all over the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night in Denver. Instead, they fell to a 5-4 decision after trailing by as many as three goals with under 10 minutes remaining. The Flyers would pepper Avalanche goaltender Craig Anderson with 19 shots in the third period alone, but in the end it was an embellished penalty call that would up doing Philadelphia in.
But before we get to the pulse-pounding comeback attempt, we must recount a game that the Flyers simply did not deserve to win. They played sloppy, lazy, even uninspired hockey throughout most of a contest that they, quite frankly, deserved to lose. That doesn't mean Colorado deserved the 'W', however.
No, the Avalanche tried throughout to cough this one up. After jumping all over a shaky Ray Emery early in the first, they began to sit back with a two goal cushion -- in the first period. Danny Briere made them pay with less than a minute to go in the first twenty to cut the lead in half and give the Flyers the momentum. It was clear they possessed it when the second period began, as right off the opening draw they began to apply pressure. Within thirty seconds, they'd be hammering away at a loose puck in front of Anderson -- a puck that Jeff Carter would eventually bang home to tie the game at two.
At this point, a defeated Avalanche team that had lost its last two games by squandering two-goal leads should have been knocked out for the count. Instead, the Flyers sat back and allowed Colorado to gain some confidence. Before long, the Avs would score two more goals to replenish their lead, and Emery would be headed to the showers.
His replacement, Brian Boucher, would allow a goal, but he didn't necessarily play poorly. He only saw 14 shots, thanks to the Flyers third period efforts. Really, they decided to turn things up following Briere's second goal -- a beautiful one-timer over the shoulder of Anderson -- gave them some life with about nine minutes left. Philadelphia kept up the pressure as time continued to tick away and Colorado could certainly feel it.
Nerves must've set in on the Avalanche bench as someone jumped over the boards too quickly, causing a too-many-men penalty that gave the Flyers a late power play. Carter would score his second of the night on the ensuing man advantage to cut the lead to 5-4 with 4:39 left. But that's as close as the Flyers would get.
Still applying pressure late, Scott Hartnell would play a little too close to Anderson. Trying to avoid an errant shot, Hartnell would jump and collide with the Colorado goaltender, who fell backwards toward his net like he had taken a bullet to the chest. Hartnell was already seated in the penalty box long before Anderson even attempted to get up, but much to the surprise of nobody, he was able to stay in the game unharmed. What should have been a 4-on-4 situation with an added diving call turned into an Avalanche power play, effectively sealing the game for the home team.
The Flyers should have run away with this one in the second period, but in reality, they had no business even making this one close. Despite their efforts in the final nine minutes of play, Philadelphia earned a loss tonight, making a long, lonely, injury-laded Western road trip a lot more painful to swallow.
After the jump, we'll have a few more assorted thoughts on the tough loss, we'll answer our pregame questions, take a peek at the highlights, and hand out a comment of the night.
Some more thoughts on the loss....
- During the late Colorado power play, the Flyers pulled goaltender Brian Boucher and almost had some success. By the time Hartnell left the box with nine seconds left, Philadelphia was swarming in the Avalanche zone yet again. But with three seconds left and the Flyers seemingly on the verge of a last second tie, Jeff Carter was whistled for interference after knocking down a Colorado defender in front of the net. For the record, it was a cross-check and the Avalanche player embellished on that one, too.
- Down two in the second, the Flyers tried to kick up the rough stuff in an attempt to get some mojo back. Hartnell initiated some activity with several Avalanche players right after their fourth goal, and a few minutes later, Dan Carcillo, Mika Pyorala, and Ian Laperriere stepped up in front of their goalie and took a few Colorado players to task. Laperriere, still a Denver fan-favorite, received a roughing and an unsportsmanlike conduct call for his role.
- Claude Giroux got in a fight with Marek Svatos. It's not as weird as Briere versus Marc-Edouard Vlasic, but still. Who would've thought? Don't believe it? Video here.
Kimmo Timonen only took two shifts in the third period. Nobody in the Philadelphia media in Denver seems to know the deal. Maybe we'll learn something on Tuesday. No more injuries, please.
- The special teams were vastly improved tonight. The penalty kill held the Avs scoreless on eight attempts, while the power play went one for two.
- The AHL line, made up of David Laliberte, Jared Ross, and Andreas Nodl, was probably the only line with any semblance of energy throughout much of the first period.
- With the loss, Wednesday night's game on Long Island becomes critical. The Flyers need to prove to themselves and to us that this three game skid is just a bump in the road, not a defining factor of the season. A crucial game against the Isles in November? Crazy sport...
Questions With Answers
- How many minutes does the AHL line log tonight? Nodl played 12:11, Ross played 9:44, and Laliberte played 8:51. All three saw their minutes cut as John Stevens went to a shorter bench in the third period.
- Can Mika Pyorala have the same kind of chemistry Blair Betts did with Laperriere and Carcillo? Pyorala had an excellent chance in the second period that would've tied the game at three, but an excellent, somewhat lucky, flailing save by Anderson kept it out of the net. It's hard to say how much chemistry he had with his linemates, though, considering most of the team had zero chemistry for most of this one.
- Can the special teams get back on track tonight? Tough to say with a limited PP sample size, but the PK certainly did its job.
- Do the line changes adversely effect players who seemed to be benefitting from the old order, namely James van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux? Again, hard to say. Just about every line struggled for the first 52 minutes.
Comment of the Night
Whatever you do, just DON’T TOUCH THE BASEBALL CAP.