Wednesday night's game against the Habs marked a dramatic turning point for your 2010-11 Flyers. Like five good things happened and I'm excited about every one of them.
1. Sergei Bobrovsky had another solid game- even with giving up a weak goal. 5-3 first goal, nothing he could do. Rebound second or third attempt goal to make it 3-2... not horrible but not an impossible goal. Less than a few minutes after the second goal, he gave up a weak, weak, weak goal from about thirty feet out. That can't happen but he showed me something after that. There were four major reasons to think that his season could turn around (for the worse) involving last nights game:
a. Leighton's coming back definitely has to make Bob think a little bit about what they are going to do.
b. Boosh has played, looked solid, and won each of his last three games- including a Penguins start.
c. He just gave up a 2 goal lead for the second time in as many starts (3 last time) in the third period.
d. The game tying goal was weak.
e. Pronger was hurt and not playing (more on this later)
With all of these variables out there, Bob stood tall for the end of the game, finishing with 38 of 41 saves. A very impressive performance to say the least. That solid play after the third goal was the kind of poise that makes me giggle when thinking about his future. If he gives up another goal, and the Habs had some great chances after the tied game, we start talking about another goalie controversy. Aside- Did anyone hear Al Morganty say in the pregame show something to the tune of 'Look at that smile. That big Scandinavian smile or whatever.' I laughed out loud when I heard that.
2. Pronger got dinged up. How is this a good thing? Assuming this is a Gagne/Carter type injury he'll be out for 2-6 weeks. Gags came back in the playoffs in two, but it took Carter a little bit more. Becasue Pinach said he didn't look to be in pain I think he'll come back in the beginning of January. I can now think of 3 reasons why this is an okay thing.
a. His knee that is "not 100%" has more time to heal.
b. Oscars Bartullis will get some much-needed playing time.
c. This will HELP our power-play (SAY WHATTTTT!). First off... there is only one way for our PP to go... up. After two big GW PP goals, we now have confidence (one of which Prongs was out for). I'm calling it now- Richards will go to the point with Kimmo and these are my projected lines for the PP: Hartnell/Briere/Giroux/Richards/Timonen. JVR/Carter/Zherdev/Meszaros/Carle. Richie bumps back to the point, Leino is the odd man out (or the guy who will rotate in and spell some guys when needed), and we keep our new line together (more to come on this later).
d. Yes it will suck for the big guy, but it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world (actually its best case scenerio for our buddies up north) for Glenn Falls to get some veteren leadership for just a game or two. If Chris Pronger gets to pair with Erik Gustaffson for a game (or Marshall or Bourdon) or two, it will do miles and miles of work towards all three of our top young defensmen's progression. They are the worst team ever... why not get some help from a game or two from one of the best defensemen ever.
e. Our schedule over the next few weeks: This Saturday vs. NY Rangers (3 days after injury). Monday, December 20 vs. Florida (5 days after injury). Tuesday, December 28 @ Vancouver (13 days after injury). Thursday the 30th, Friday the 31st, Sunday the 2nd, Thursday the 6th @ Kings, Ducks, Wings, Devils (15, 16, 18, and 22 days after the injury). Yes, our annual holiday road trip that lasts ten days (first six on the west coast) starts (count 'em) EIGHT days after our last home game of 2010 this Monday vs. Florida. Why these dates our important. It's safe to say Prongs wont play this weekend or Monday. We've got a 3 point lead on the NHL, there are worse things in the world. Then we have eight days off. If he's healthy then, all is good in the world and he goes on the road trip. Lets say he's not healthy then... he gets to stay home and recuperate with family while eying up the 6th @ NJ or the 8th on the other side of that home and home with our closest rival. I'm FINE with him missing the road trip. He's 35 and nicked up, this will be his two week vacation. He then can rehab if he needs to or just come back for the NJ game (whichever one). If the injury is longer than this that will be a problem, especially because Walker is not eligible to play now. What I want to know is if we are as strapped for cash as Geoff insists we are, what do we do if we have another injury on defense? We have to be able to bring up a guy, if not--- Make room for Shelley as the "Dustin Byfuglin" breakout forward switching to defense guy! Just kidding.
3. Most importantly, I think we have found our lines for the foreseeable future. A defensive lacking puck hog with crazy offensive talent (shrug), a second year guy who is just starting to get hot, and a guy who the end glass hates very much because he insists on drilling them with pucks over and over and over again, combined for our first 4 goals. (I think we should keep them together). For whatever reason, maybe the stars and moon and sun and the non-planed Pluto were all lined up perfectly, but JVR/Carter/Zherdev played out of this world. They were our only +Corsi guys. They dominate play (offensivly and defensivly) and on top of the goals, the were ringing posts all night (at least once, but all night sounds better). After the NHL on the fly had a segment about how Carter had a great defensive game vs. Pittsburgh he opened the scoring with a nifty- Giroux-esque - goal. Then Reemer. Then Z. Then Reemer. With under 10 to go, Laviolette put the three out on the PP and they got it done. Yes JVR and Z who have gotten 7th and 8th most PP time were put out with the lovable "Jeffey" and got the job done. THEN with a minute to go in a 6 on 5 situation in our OWN ZONE who was out on the ice? Betts? Powe? Our new "top d-line" (more to come on that as well)? No. It was the Russian defensivless wonder, JVR, and Jeffie Carter. And they got the job done. If this line can stay together we now have four cemented lines. Our fourth line has always just been "by comitee" with any of Betts, Powe, Shelley, Wellwood, and Carcillo (and I guess Nodl used to be there) so by default we have a set "first" or whatever line with Richards.
4. Which brings me to my next point: steady line-mates. People who know hockey know how much easier it is to wake up knowing who your playing with day in and day out. Hartnell-Briere-Leino has been together for 6 months now and they are awesome. JVR-Carter-Zherdev will be together for the next few games at least and if they string together a few good ones they will be set for a while. Betts-Powe-Shelley/Carcillo is a solid defensive checking line that isn't going anywhere. That leaves who? Oh yeah, on top of two scoring lines containing six legitimate 60 points scorers (Carter has put up 40 goals and been a top 8 goal scorer in each of the past two years, LBH has 22-24 points a guy right now, Zherdev has had 25 goals in an NHL season before, and this version of JVR has been almost PPG) we've got our top two scorers left to play together: Claude and Richie. They are amazing on the PK together... so why not put our 5th PK forward with them to make them THE BEST DEFENSIVE FORWARD line in the league. Is that outrageous? Who cares. These guys shut down Crosby to ZERO shots. Richie and G will get their points no matter what. This line is young, skilled, and defensive oriented. I'd take this line over ANY LINE IN THE LEAGUE. I'd love to keep a tally going of what the line opposed to these guys does while 5-5.
5. Here is what happened. Coach Laviolette gave this speech to his team after the game was tied up:
Then we got angry and did this:
The emotion we've shown in the past 2 games shows why were the best team in the league. Zherdev was pumped as a mo-fo vs. the Pens after his goal. Hartnell gave one of the best fist pumps EVER after his goal to take the lead in that game as well. And after the go-ahead goal last game JVR showed some FIRE.
We have a tough stretch, especially with out the big guy will show us a lot about this team. They have already showed me what I wanted to see thus far, and I don't think they will do anything but answer the bell with out Pronger. In our next 8 games, I expect 10 of 16 points. I'm not expecting Pronger to play, and I think 10 is a fair amount of points to call an over/under on.
ONE MORE THING... (sorry)... There was an article a few weeks ago showing Subban (asshole) bumping (to say the least) Giroux hard into the MTL net (because he is an asshole). After Subban turns it over to Richie (hahahahaha payback is a bitch. The captain backed up his shit talking) who makes a great pass to Giroux (probably should have been defended but Subban smacked his stick on the ground and was lazy to get back into the play... again... hahahahhah) who nets it for the two goal lead. Subban, still skating towards the net drills Giroux again. I was just wondering if anyone saw this as well.