Once we reached about five minutes into a scoreless third period at Wells Fargo Center tonight, you just knew it was going to be one of those games that'd end up either wonderfully satisfying or brutally heartbreaking. One where the Flyers would either be rewarded for a relentless effort, or forced to slug back to the locker room with a dejected feeling they wouldn't really deserve.
Sometimes you just don't get the result you deserve in this game, and tonight was Exhibit A. The Flyers peppered the New York Islanders net with 45 shots -- compared to just 18 on goal for the Islanders -- but Evgeni Nabokov had an answer for each and every chance the Flyers could muster and New York left the building with a 1-0 shootout victory.
Make no doubt about it: Nabokov got exactly the result he deserved tonight, but he's probably the only guy on either team who can say that after this one.
The Flyers top line really poured it on tonight. Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux and Jaromir Jagr combined for 16 shots on their own, and at even strength, they each had an on-ice shot differential of at least 20. Dominating stuff, really, and the only reason several pucks didn't find the back of the net was Nabokov.
Special teams were even more impressive. The power play was (obviously) held off the board for the first time in seven games, but it was still a potent unit that generated quite a few chances. The penalty kill was even better, at times getting more chances while shorthanded than the Isles were getting with the extra man.
But none of it matters, thanks to Evgeni Nabokov and the shootout. It sucks, but there's really no sense in getting upset about it. Some times, you just have to tip your cap to a guy and move on. Hey, look on the bright side: Second shutout of the year for Ilya Bryzgalov!
One quick note on Bryz: He made 18 stops tonight and got a shutout, but a lot of people in both the comments and on Twitter are giving him a hard time. He wasn't bad tonight at all, and yeah, the shootout wasn't pretty. But you can think of it two ways -- a) he's just not all that great in the shootout, totally plausible, or b) that he didn't see the puck all that much tonight and wasn't nearly as sharp as Nabokov by the time the shootout arrived.
It's unfair to blame the Flyers' lack of shootout success on one guy. Remember, this team has been shitty in shootouts since long before Ilya Bryzgalov arrived. They've been shitty in shootouts since long before Peter Laviolette arrived, too. Something needs to change, because they are losing valuable points in these games, but placing the blame on just one or two people isn't fair and it's kind of silly.
Questions with Answers
- Steve Staios is playing. He didn't play last time the teams met, and the Flyers couldn't give him any pay back for his hit on Max Talbot. How long are our memories tonight? Whatever.
- How's Danny Briere look in his return to the lineup? Briere was solid. Strong on faceoffs, two SOG, almost 20 minutes in ice time.
- Can the defense tighten up? They were much better, yes.
- Can Ilya Bryzgalov tighten up? Zero goals good enough for you? (Apparently not, for some.)
- The power play has been really potent of late. More? No goals, but still looking dangerous.
Comment of the Night
A lot of comments in this thread don't reflect the game I just watched.
>> doubleh, on the notion of perspective