Craig Berube is undefeated as an NHL head coach, the power play is perhaps the Flyers biggest worry and Steve Mason really does look like Stevezina.
I'm not sure what weird world we're living in, but it's not so bad considering the Flyers pulled out a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers tonight, their first win of the season and a big boost of confidence after firing Peter Laviolette.
Let's talk about the good things: For starters, was Mason good tonight or what? I can think of at least five big saves that he made that he really should not have made, and they all kept the Flyers in the game at various points in the game.
Aside from the goaltending, the penalty kill was very solid and eliminated a dangerous four-minute-long 5-on-4 Panthers power play early in the third. It all came about when Jay Rosehill went after somebody during one of his eight shifts on the night. He ended up with 14 total penalty minutes and kept the Flyers PKers out on the ice for four straight minutes in a one-goal game, but luckily they were up to the task.
Stats and stuff:Boxscore | Event summary
Ice time: Flyers | Panthers
Shots: Differential | Full report
Detailed game report | Faceoffs
Game discussion thread
Wayne Simmonds did well in his bump to the first line. He finished with a negative shot differential and he didn't have any shots that hit the net, but he had a lot of energy and he and Hartnell brought a nice element with Giroux. Simmonds was probably the most noticeable Flyers forward tonight, and that's a good thing. Also really liked what I saw from the third line. They were very strong, probably the Flyers best three-man unit tonight.
Overall, the Flyers looked much more energetic and much smoother at even strength, and the transition game was a whole lot cleaner than it was in the first few games. Good things to see.
Okay, now let's kill the buzz a bit.
The Flyers did barely squeak out a win against what might be the worst team in hockey, and they did it on two goals against a clearly awful Tim Thomas. (Thomas left the game after this hilarious goal in the first period, which made it 2-0.) Without Mason's play, Florida would have won this game. No way around that fact.
The power play was really bad again. A foolish Erik Gudbranson hit in the third gave the Flyers a full five minute power play and they didn't generate much sustained pressure at all with the man advantage. Overall the power play went 0-5 in 13 total minutes of 5-on-4 play, and they only generated eight total shots on goal in those 13 minutes. Both units look like shit and it needs to be better.
Defensively, we might see Berube tinker with the pairings before Friday's game against Phoenix. The pairing of Kimmo Timonen and Luke Schenn was downright brutal tonight, with each player finishing minus-6 and minus-8 in shot differential respectively. The other two pairings -- Andrej Meszaros (who led the team in ice time tonight?) with Mark Streit and Braydon Coburn with Nicklas Grossmann -- were better, but that supposed "top" pairing of Kimmo and Schenn needs to be better.
Overall, the defensive zone coverage still isn't great and the Flyers are giving up a lot of prime scoring chances. There's still work to be done, but everything did see a bit calmer and a bit less Benny Hill tonight.
It was a win, and Jacob Markstrom also played well in goal after Thomas left, which didn't help as the Flyers tried to pad their lead throughout. We'll happily take the progress and move ahead to Phoenix on Friday.
Questions with Answers
1. What changes are evident under new coach Craig Berube? Not too much tonight. I'm sure we'll see more in future games, but it's hard to see obvious changes in just one game.
2. How does Simmonds look on the top line? See above. I thought he looked very good.
3. Tim Thomas .... uh, what's he look like? You could say he was .... shutdown.
4. First win of the season?! YOU KNOW IT
Comment of the Night
I knew Tim Thomas leaned well to the right but that was ridiculous..