Flyers vs. Devils recap: Back in the win column

Paul Bereswill

It was far from the prettiest or most exciting game you'll ever see, but the Flyers rebounded with a big win against their division rivals tonight in Newark.

On Friday night, at home and rested up, against a team they've largely played well against for the last couple of years, the Flyers were completely embarassed up and down the ice and made themselves look like idiots en route to the worst loss they've had in years.

On Saturday night, on the road and on the tail end of a back-to-back, against a team they've largely struggled against for the last couple of years, the Flyers played a really solid defensive game and kept their opponent completely off the scoreboard en route to a win that ended a two-game losing streak that felt a hell of a lot longer than that.

Hockey's a weird game sometimes. But at this point, they all count the same, no?

Let's be honest: this was a really, really ugly game, between two teams that were ravaged by injuries and really not doing well at all so far this season. It was quite slow all around, with only 36 shots on goal combined between the two teams. And despite getting a shutout, Ray Emery really wasn't tested much, and the one goal the Flyers managed to get on the board was on a deflection by Brayden Schenn from Andrej Meszaros at the top of the right circle. Basically, there have been more impressive and exciting wins, and there will be more impressive and exciting wins in the future.

But you know what? This season's been crappy. The last week or so has been really crappy. Last night was really, really, really crappy. Just because this win was boring and unexciting doesn't mean we shouldn't be happy about it. It's a win, which is great to start with, not to mention a win against a division rival in the Devils (who had won eight of their last nine against the Flyers coming into tonight). Get excited, folks.

Some quick thoughts:

* After all of the shit that he (100% completely deservedly) got for his ridiculously stupid actions last night at the Wells Fargo Center, Ray Emery leaves tonight as your most valuable player. He only had to stop 14 shots en route to the Flyers' first shutout of the season, and not that many of them were particularly tough stops, but it was nice to see him come back after what he did last night and play a good, solid game in net. Steve Mason's played very well so far this year and has taken over the starter's role, but I wouldn't mind seeing Ray push him a bit. Having two goalies that are playing well is always welcome.

* That said, you can't talk about a 14-save shutout without mentioning the guys who made sure only 14 shots hit the net. The defense -- which saw Hal Gill make his season debut and saw Andrej Meszaros return to the lineup -- did a fine job preventing the Devils from getting more than a handful of decent chances at scoring. Maybe that's just the Devils being the Devils, but regardless, that was one of the best all-around defensive performances of the year for this team, and it was sorely needed after suffering breakdown after breakdown on Friday night against the Capitals.

* Speaking of Hal Gill, he's still slow. And he took a penalty in the third period, which was less than ideal. But as a whole I didn't notice him much throughout the game, which seems like a good thing.

* As for Gill's defensive partner, Andrej Meszaros ... Mez is still pretty slow following his myriad injuries, and he's got more than his fair share of limitations. But getting the puck to the net is something he's always been decent at, and he put it right on the stick of Brayden Schenn right at the crease for that lone Flyers goal, so good on him.

* Obviously there was not a whole lot going offensively for the Flyers, but the re-formed top line of Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux, and Jakub Voracek dominated in terms of possession. Against a solid possession team like the Devils, that's a good sign moving forward, if Craig Berube decides to keep them together. Goals will come if they can keep that level of performance up.

* Matt Read, who entered tonight with 14 penalty minutes in his entire NHL career, took three penalties in the first period alone. A bit bizarre.

* The power play is still bad, though it seemed like it got a bit better as the game went on. The penalty kill was largely solid, as it's been for most of the season.

* Jaromir Jagr sent the potential game-tying goal in the third period through the crease, where it innocently floated away. Because he still loves us.

* The Flyers, with 69 games left on the schedule, are six points out of a playoff spot. Draw your additional conclusions about where things are headed from there.

Questions with Answers

  1. Generally speaking, how does last night's total meltdown spill over into tonight? Are they disciplined? Do they start well? Anything of note happen? Apparently Matt Read was still pumped up from the whole thing, because he took three penalties in the first period alone. But on the whole, not really. Things were pretty calm. No fights or anything.
  2. The Flyers' struggles against the Devils the past couple seasons are well-documented. Can they do a decent job controlling and moving the puck tonight? I mean, not really. They didn't move the puck particularly well, and got only 22 shots on goal. The difference, of course, was that they barely let the Devils get anything at all going in the other direction.
  3. They score at least a goal, right? RIGHT? Indeed! A single goal. Which, fortunately, was all they needed.
  4. Steve Mason Ray Emery plays tonight on the second half of a back-to-back, after making two separate appearances last night alone after playing last night and getting in a fight with a guy. First time he's gone back-to-back all year. How's he do? Shutout. Wasn't challenged much and only had to turn aside 14 shots, but a shutout. Guess that's the best possible way for him to follow up his ridiculously stupid antics last night.
  5. How's Tye McGinn look in his return to the NHL team? No shots on goal. Fairly nondescript game as a whole. Will probably get sent back down before Tuesday if Lecavalier is deemed healthy and ready to go.

Comment of the Night:

I think if Emery gets a shutout tonight we should make Brodeur 3rd star

-- Clutterbuck4MVP, at the end of the first period, presciently trolling

Down to Raleigh to face the Hurricanes on Tuesday. In Lou We Trust for the Devils' side of things. Go Flyers.

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