PHILADELPHIA -- For our sanity and likely his own, Mike Richards needed a game like tonight. The Captain came out on Hockey Night in Canada and showed everything he had, playing an integral role in three Flyers goals as the team rolled to a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It started with line changes. Peter Laviolette threw together a rag tag group of lines tonight, including pairing Richards with Darroll Powe and Claude Giroux to start. The Flyers were slow out of the gate, and at the 10 minute mark of the first period, they were on pace to put up just 12 shots on the night.
How quickly things change. A Dan Carcillo fight with Toronto's Mike Brown really seemed to get the team going at the 14:34 mark, and just a few minutes later, Richards lit another charge into the WFC crowd with a beautiful pick off in the neutral zone and a cannon of a shot to beat Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
Less than two minutes later, a tip from Richie on a Chris Pronger point blast wound up glancing off of the glove of Ville Leino and into the back of the net. Toronto would never have a chance from there on out. Sure, they fought back a few times on goals from Phil Kessel and a shifty one in front by Clarke MacArthur, but the lead would never vanish.
Richards, stepping up again, sealed the deal with a gorgeous pass to Scott Hartnell just a minute in to the third period. Hartnell blasted a one-time shot to beat Giguere on the play. Briere added one later to make the score embarrassing for the Leafs, who suddenly look human again after a 4-0 start. What did we say, Toronto? Something about enjoying it while it lasts?
After the jump, questions with answers, a few assorted thoughts and the comment of the night.
- Carcillo's addition to the lineup was good for two reasons. One, his fight really did ignite the team and two, Laviolette had him where he belongs -- away from Richards and on the fourth line. He took nine shifts.
- Two straight games now the Flyers have had 40 or more shots. Everything that went wrong against Anaheim on Thursday, however, went right tonight. That is good.
- Aside from Richards' magic all night long, the Leino-Briere-Hartnell line continued to show why they are indeed the top line on this team. They make something happen every time they hit the ice.
- Colby Armstrong shattered any hopes the Leafs had of coming back with a nasty hit on James van Riemsdyk with about seven minutes and change left in the third. He was handed a five minute major for boarding. Andrej Mezsaros and Nikolay Zherdev were the most vocal and most physical in their defense of JVR after the play. Mez got a penalty for roughing on the play.
- On that ensuing five minute long power play, Shelley got a shift of PP work. He took a penalty.
- Kimmo Timonen had eight blocked shots, including five in the first period alone. The team as a whole had 12 in the first period alone, which is just ridiculous.
- In other news, Ilya Kovalchuk was a healthy scratch tonight. You can laugh as loudly as you want. $100 million.
- More notes tomorrow: the Phillies are on.
Questions with Answers
- Will Jody Shelley vs. Colton Orr disappoint like Shelley vs. George Parros did on Thursday? Yes, because it didn't happen.
- Power play improvement. Yes or no? They scored a goal. This is an improvement.
- Can the Flyers get quality scoring chances? Can they stop Toronto from blocking shots at will? Yes they can, and they totally turned the tables in the blocked shots department, out-blocking Toronto 18-13.
- Can the Leino-Briere-Hartnell line continue their success from Thursday night? Yes.
- Over/under on actual butts in the seats with the Phillies on tonight set at 17k. Tough to tell. Probably under.
Comment of the Night
Sanchez: "that’s bullshit"
Utley: "what’s bullshit"
>> phillies0100, because we all know which game is really more important tonight