PHILADELPHIA -- Games like tonight suck. Not only did the Flyers fall to a team with some of the most insufferable fans in the NHL, they did it in a pretty disappointing fashion. After several days of hard practices and disciplined work after the Ottawa debacle, they showed up to Wells Fargo Center tonight and were outworked by an inferior team that simply wanted this game more than they did.
I know that's a pretty clichéd statement -- "they wanted it more" -- but if it was ever true, it was true tonight. The Toronto Maple Leafs showed up tonight and simply outworked the Flyers in all three zones. It's really as simple as that.
Perhaps the Flyers just couldn't get a rhythm. You know, four penalties in the first period tends to do that to a team. They spent eight of the first 20 minutes of the game on the penalty kill, with the same players doing all the work.
Ben Holmstrom, Kimmo Timonen, Chris Pronger, Mike Richards, Claude Giroux and Blair Betts all had more than three minutes of PK time in the opening period, and as a result, a good number of players couldn't get into the flow of the game. When that happens, it's tough to get a feel for the game. It's tough to generate scoring chances on a consistent basis and it's even tougher to stop that negative flow once it starts.
It's not as if there weren't positives tonight. Kris Versteeg and Richards put on display a solid dose of awesome for most of the evening, especially on Steeg's second goal. Sergei Bobrovsky bailed the Flyers out on numerous occasions and kept them in the game long than they should have been in it.
Most importantly, after taking a whopping seven penalties in the game -- eight if you count Scott Hartnell's at the 20 minute mark of the third -- they killed off every single one. And that's without Blair Betts, who only played 4:36 as he was clearly still suffering the effects of his injury.
It wasn't a night full of negatives, but when you lose a game like this that you, honestly, deserved to lose, it's hard not to walk away from a bitter taste in your mouth. After the jump, a few more thoughts on tonight's game, post-game video, questions with answers and the comment of the night.
- I thought Ben Holmstrom played a solid game tonight, even though he didn't get much of a chance at even strength. He played 4:33 on the penalty kill and just just 3:26 at even strength. He's pretty sound defensively and it certainly says a lot that Peter Laviolette was confident enough to throw him out there on the PK right at the start of his NHL career.
I'm not sure what his career faceoff numbers are, but tonight they really weren't all that hot -- he went three for 10. If he can improve in that department (and again, I don't even know if he really is bad at that facet of the game) I could see him as a nice replacement for Blair Betts after next season when Betts' contract expires. With Betts out for most of this one, Holmstrom filled in quite capably. Just first impressions though, obviously.
- Lavi didn't seem particularly happy with the penalties tonight. Video is below, but he basically said that things were called in one end and not the other. He might be right, but that doesn't excuse the penalties the Flyers took tonight. Most of them were awful.
- Here's the quote from Lavi: "You know, get punched in the head and you punch somebody back, you expect them both to go. What seemed to be hooking, holding, and slashing in one end, we would like those calls down on the other. We weren't complaining about the ones we went to the box, there were certainly enough of them, but you know we're trying to generate some offense too."
- Mike Richards took responsibility for the too-many-men call in the second period... the one that led to Dion Phaneuf's goal... the one that made Phaneuf jump up and down like a baby. This stuff goes under the radar, but you know, it's grown up Captain-type stuff.
- Darryl Boyce's game-winning goal was pretty weak, but honestly, it's the kind of goal that you expect to see on a night like tonight. Boyce wins a puck battle in the corner and just kind of walks in front and fools Bob a little bit. It's all about outworking the guy in the corner, in this case SOD. To his credit, he said his helmet came down over his eyes while battling and it took a second to re-orient himself. By the time that happened, Boyce was cutting to the crease.
- Joffrey Lupul is a frustrating hockey player. We knew this, but I'm glad he's not a Flyer anymore.
- The Leafs are two points back of a playoff spot. I wouldn't necessarily mind if they beat the Rangers out for the eighth spot. We'd handle them in a seven-game series ... just my opinion, at least.
- Hoooooooooly crap did Keith Aulie kill Scott Hartnell in that fight or did Keith Aulie kill Scott Hartnell in that fight? My lord.
Post-Game Video: Chris Pronger
Post-Game Video: Kris Versteeg
Post-Game Video: Mike Richards
Post-Game Video: Peter Laviolette
Post-Game Video: Sean O`Donnell
Questions with Answers
- Kris Versteeg vs. his old club. How's he perform? Best player on the ice tonight.
- The Flyers have generally been pretty bad after long breaks this season, but after Peter Laviolette skated them into the ground this week, will they be better tonight? They weren't better. First back-to-back losses in 2011.
- Can the Flyers match the intensity of the playoff-desperate Leafs? Nah.
- James Reimer has been great lately. Can Bob be better? Bob was very good. Probably better. Wasn't enough.
Comment of the Night
The McDonalds Power Play payoff, soon to be renamed Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
>> Justin F.