I'll admit: Coming into tonight's game against the New York Rangers, I didn't really think the Flyers had a chance. And on paper, they absolutely didn't have a chance. Down a million players, Jody Shelley and Tom Sestito both in the lineup, against a team with the league's best goaltender and one of the most potent top lines in the NHL.
Combine it all and we didn't have much to look forward to tonight. Then you add the divisional rivalry thing and the "Rangers have beaten the Flyers in 42,000 straight games" thing and it just seemed like it'd be a bad night.
It's weird to boil a victory down to just "hard work," but you know what? Sometimes, in a 60 minute hockey game, it can be as simple as that. From the drop of the puck tonight, the Flyers were on the forecheck. They beat the Rangers to loose pucks, they checked hard, they skated hard, they played a strong physical game and literally all four lines had success.
A line of Jody Shelley, Tom Sestito and Eric Wellwood controlled possession and generated chances tonight. Like, come on. That's how you know things are going your way.
It was probably a lengthy penalty kill in the third period that sealed the victory. The Flyers killed a full two-minute long 5-on-3 and then killed 1:45 of 5-on-4 time after. They blocked shots, they got in passing lanes and Ilya Bryzgalov made a number of great saves to frustrate the Rangers. We're used to Henrik Lundqvist robbing the Flyers of valuable points in the standings. It's sure nice to see our goalie return the favor.
Some more thoughts:
* The top line of Claude Giroux, Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds just looked great. Simmonds scored a goal from his office in the crease and the line just generally did a lot of positive things on the ice. Simmonds had six shots on goal.
* In honor of Mike Knuble's signing, perhaps, both Flyers' goals were of the dirty from-the-crease variety. Dirty but good, as JJ would say.
* Seriously, yet again, Bryz was one of the Flyers' best players. He's a good goalie and it's great that he's finally showing it. Let's hope it stays that way.
* Andrej Meszaros left the game after the second period with an injury. Reporters at the WFC saw him leaving in a sling and it appears to be a shoulder injury, so let's hold our breath on that.
* The Flyers took 69 attempts at the net -- 33 on goal, 16 missed, 15 blocked. The Rangers took 48 attempts.
* The best part of tonight's win: It's hard to really pick out one or two players who kicked ass because the entire team played well. But special mention really has to go out to Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn who each played right around 24 minutes tonight. Like we've said, there will be a lot of leaning on these guys all year.
* That terrifying-looking top line of Rick Nash, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik? Didn't really notice 'em except that one time when Nicklas Grossmann buried Gaborik into the boards. Fun.
* I wrote this whole recap listening to DMX, because that just feels fitting for some reason.
Comment of the Night
3 Shots on those penalties. Those penalties weren't killed, they were murdered.