Flyers Taking On Persona Of 'Greatest' Boxing Champ

Welcome Dave Strehle to BSH. You've probably seen him around on the Twitters or at SBNation.com or NHL Hot Stove. We link to his stuff in the Fly By a lot, so if you haven't heard of him, why aren't you reading the Fly By every morning?! Welcome him. Thanks for the help, Dave. - Travis

There have been many boxing references associated with the Philadelphia Flyers through the years. The fictional Sly Stallone character of Rocky Balboa, and the Philly-native "Smokin'" Joe Frazier come to mind as some of the most often utilized.

But it's perhaps "The Greatest" of them all, Muhammad Ali, whom this year's version of the Flyers most resembles. Ali had his rope-a-dope, where he would lay back against the ropes and cover up his front with his arms and gloves and let his opponent give him their best shots. As it appeared he was just about to drop, Ali would instead launch an unparalleled offensive attack of his own ... and the result was swift and decisive in his favor.

For the second time in less than a week, the Flyers meekly sat back while burying themselves in a 3-0 hole, only to get themselves off the ropes and complete a full comeback with an exhilarating overtime victory. Friday night, it was a 4-3 win in Anaheim, as Claude Giroux one-timed a laser past Jonas Hiller for the GWG in OT.

Philadelphia would find themselves down 3-0 late in the first period on Wednesday night in Buffalo before finally launching a counter-strike. And it would again be Giroux who would provide similar heroics in the extra period. Make that "NHL scoring leader, Claude Giroux".

Some of the darkest moments from building the deficit:

  • One of the worst sights of the night for anyone rooting for the Orange-and-Black had to be ex-Flyer Ville Leino scoring the game's first goal, especially on such a picture perfect passing play. While on a power play, Zach Kassian drew Ilya Bryzgalov well out of the crease, then dropped a pass back to Leino in the slot with a wide open net. It was just Leino's third goal of the season, and his first in breaking a 12-game drought. The Sabres are finding out the hard way just why Paul Holmgren didn't shuffle his lineup around to fit in a 6-year, $27 million deal for the Finnish forward. The fact that Braydon Coburn had a clear opportunity to get the puck out of the zone but was instead stripped from behind by Luke Adam to start the sequence didn't make it any easier to take.
  • Buffalo's third goal was pretty weak. Bryzgalov looked a bit slow as the puck bounced and trickled past him, but then again, it's almost a prerequisite that Thomas Vanek scores at least once each time the Sabres play the Flyers.

Some observations from the comeback:

  • There can be no minimizing of the importance of the Max Talbot goal at the end of the first period, barely beating the clock off a gorgeous feed from Jakub Voracek. It changed the entire complexion of the game, drawing the Flyers to within two goals, and probably changing Peter Laviolette's mindset regarding who would be between the pipes at the beginning of the second period.
  • Zac Rinaldo brought a lot of energy to the team during the evening, and his fight with Corey Tropp seemed to put an exclamation point on the momentum shift originally delivered by Talbot's goal. Philly looked like a different team from the second period's opening faceoff the rest of the way.
  • It was important for the psyche of Bryzgalov to remain in the game and hold the team in while they battled back. Laviolette is desperately attempting to get his number one on a roll, and he should gain some confidence in the fact the Flyers came back from an 0-3 deficit for a second time in three games with him in net.

This one didn't take place during the first period, but a bad moment came late in the contest. Drew Stafford, who has been struggling offensively for some time, was left all alone in front of Bryzgalov twice in the closing minutes. The first time, the goaltender got his right pad out to kick away a golden opportunity to tie the game with Philadelphia nursing a 4-3 lead. But Stafford got the better result the second time, sniping one past a helpless Bryzgalov with just 1:35 remaining in regulation. Unforgivable.

Which brings us to the real story of the night, and that is Giroux. Already having assisted on the Flyers' last three goals in regulation, he picked off a pass in the Buffalo zone, skated the length of the ice, then pulled a quick forehand-backhand-forehand move before tucking the puck between Ryan Miller's pads for the game-winner. It was Giroux's fourth point of the night, moving him one ahead of Toronto's Phil Kessel with 36 (16 goals, 20 assists) for the League lead.

The goal for Giroux was his third straight game scoring the game-winner, and he is now tied with Detroit's Johan Franzen for the NHL lead with five.

Perhaps the most-telling moment of the night came on a harmless play in the first period with Philly still trailing. Giroux had tried to get a shot off, but it was tipped away from him. He dove down to the ice and while outstretched and prone, somehow managed to flip a shot that went in on Miller. Not many people thought twice about it, but the perseverance and tenacity in which Giroux exhibited pretty much sums up his never-say-die attitude.

Using the boxing analogy again, the argument could be made that Bryzgalov and the defensive corp are the cover up; holding the team in while their opponents try to whittle away for a chance at a knockout blow. The goals by Talbot, Jaromir Jagr, and Scott Hartnell were Ali's left jab, setting up their unwitting foe for the jackhammer right -- which was supplied by Giroux.

Only time will tell if they will also be called "The Greatest" of their time. Consistently having to rally from 0-3 down is certainly not something they should be interested in exploring, but it sure is fun to watch when they pull off the comeback.


Thanks to Travis for allowing me to partake in the game recap for tonight's game. Broad Street Hockey is one of the, if not THE most definitive source for all things Philadelphia Flyers. Many thanks, man ...


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