First, Brian Elliott played a great game. There is no denying that at all. Also, the Flyers had plenty of chances. Any time you don't score a goal - which is debatable - you can't really cry foul. But it's not as black and white as that.
Second, the Flyers were 0-for-6 on the power play. They had 2 full minutes of 5-on-3 and couldn't score a goal, even when Simon Gagne had a wide open net. The team had their opportunities.
But none of that is the story of the game. The story of the game, unfortunately, is the NHL officiating. Now, before we get into this, just know how much we hate blaming the refs. Philadelphia fans already get a terrible rap for not only being dirty (and thus deserve it) but for being whiners. We try never to feed into that stereotype, but unfortunately cannot help but mention it tonight.
Rather than go through a laundry list, we'll just pick three examples. First, Dan Carcillo took an elbow to the face that went uncalled. This one wouldn't even warrant a mention most nights, but this was just the tip of the iceberg tonight. Yes, he probably embellished it a bit, but there's no denying he took an extended elbow to the face. No call.
Second, the Flyers appeared to scratch back into the game when Kimmo Timonen made a great play, between his legs, to put the puck on net while his back was to the goal. The puck appeared to go in. While the CSN crew unanimously thought it went in, I honestly can't be sure. The frozen screen grab on the broadcast wasn't exactly conclusive. But, even if it didn't go in, the reason it didn't was Anton Volchenkov closing his hand on the puck to take it out of the net. The referee was right there and he not only called no goal, he called no penalty. Again, standing alone, whatever. These things happen. Except for the third and most egregious play of the night.
Honestly, the entire game was chippy. Darroll Powe took a boarding penalty earlier in the game. He later got an elbow to the head (which was called). Dan Carcillo was taking runs at people. We get it. Regardless, there is no excuse for what Anton Volchenkov did at the start of the third period. Simon Gagne had his back to Volchenkov, tipped the puck into the zone, and then got checked into the boards from behind. This should have been a 5 minute major for boarding, but instead it turned into a Senators goal, followed by a 7 minute Senators power play.
There really isn't much to say except wow. When the video of Volchenkov's hit on Gagne becomes available, it'll be up here. Watch it. I'd love to have something intelligent to say, but I don't. It was a penalty. It wasn't called. Along with a bunch of other things.
Any casual fan watching this game must have been left asking what is wrong with the NHL. The answer is that games like this are all too common. Before getting all "The NHL hates Philadelphia", know that these sorts of things happen everywhere. Detroit has had some of the most ridiculous calls go against them, and they've surely lost count. Matt Cooke goes unsuspended. Hell, Mike Richards didn't get suspended. Alex Ovechkin is constantly in the middle of these debates. It isn't anything against Philadelphia. It's the NHL.
UPDATE 11:06 PM: The NHL video team has decided not to include Volchenkov's hit on Gagne in their "Game Highlights" package. It is not listed under "HITS", and Alfredsson's goal highlight starts with Gagne already on the ice. Look for it on CSNPhilly's recap later tonight/tomorrow.
Jump for Questions with Answers and the Comment of the Night
Questions with Answers:
- Most importantly, which team shows up to play: Emotionally fragile pouters, or determined and confident professionals? Um... Constantly inconsistent enigmas. So... neither. The team played well defensively, minus the breakdown on the first goal, but just couldn't score.
- Does Claude Giroux take advantage of his promotion to second-line center? He had a solid game, but nothing spectacular.
- How long does Ville Leino play with Betts and Laperriere? Almost the whole game. The line even created a pretty good scoring chance with Leino coming down the right wing.
- How does Brian Boucher play? He played well. Very well, actually. He went down too early on the first goal, but you can't hang this loss on him.
Comment of the Night
Keep breathing man, before you kill the dog or something