I get that the Penguins and Rangers have been our biggest rivals of late, for obvious reasons, but man, it's as easy as it's been in a while to hate the Devils again. The five-game losing streak to them coming into tonight, the whole thing where they lost (arguably) their best player and yet are leading the Eastern Conference this year...those flames are re-kindling, that's for sure. And tonight just poured a bit more fuel on that fire.
Fears of deja vu from last May and from the season's opening week popped up after the Devils scored a minute in. But then in the 19:20 that followed, a funny thing happened: the Flyers played what was one of their best periods of the season. A great penalty kill. A quick power play goal. A pair of great shots that find the back of the net. Some timely saves. Winning battles on the boards. All that good stuff. At least for a period it looked like we may be able to end this really, really annoying losing streak to the Devils that we've got going.
Then the rest of the game happened. And now that losing streak to Jersey is at six. And a .500 record* will have to wait.
*.500 by the NHL's standards. I know 7-7-1 isn't really .500 but let's just go with it. Besides, shootout losses don't count anyways.
* Claude Giroux and his line had an interesting night. On the one hand: a pair of assists for G, and a great chance in the second that clanged off the post. Seemed pretty active out there offensively. On the other hand? His line, with Simmonds and Read (who both scored very nice-looking goals) was on the ice for three goals against. Giroux in particular looked out of place on the first one, and a bad clear from Read led right to the game-winning assist. Here's to more offense AND more defense from them in the future, because we know they can provide both.
* Pretty shoddy defense all-around tonight, on that note. The first goal involved some not-so-good backchecking, the second came off a great pass from Marty (ugh), the third followed a rough turnover from Timonen, and the fourth was a nice deflection after a failed clearing attempt by Read. Not really what you want to see, despite a pretty good job suppressing chances as a whole.
* All of that said, this was not Ilya Bryzgalov's finest night. Nothing that was particularly awful, but I'm guessing he'd like another chance at probably three of those goals he let in. Wouldn't pin the loss on him either way, but definitely one of the less impressive games of his impressive season so far.
* The lines were kinda weird. That line of Tye McGinn-Brayden Schenn-Jake Voracek, despite not actually scoring, seemed once again like it was doing a decent job out there. And Fedotenko-Knuble-Briere was also a bit out there, though they did connect for a very nice goal by Knuble. As for the fourth line...
* Here's a list of Flyers who had less ice time tonight than Sean Couturier's 11:27:
That's it. Really. And that time on ice was spent with Rinaldo and Max Talbot. There is no way that's in the best interest of either Sean (in his development) or this team (in its ability to win games). Come on, Lavi, let him some more time tomorrow in Montreal. [NOTE: Totally forgot when I wrote this that he had the flu earlier this week. Makes a bit more sense now. Point remains, though, that he best not be on a Talbot-Couturier-Rinaldo line for much longer.]
*Surprisingly un-chippy game for the most part, given how these teams can be. Only two penalties total, one each way. And on that note, special teams actually looked good, with a great kill and a PP goal. The improvement (or regression, if you prefer) from the PK of late has been a nice treat.
* Flyers out-shot the Devils 28-19 despite leading/not trailing for most of the night. Got the chances, didn't get the bounces. Your 2013 Flyers so far, in a nutshell.
* Lastly, and maybe most importantly: Kimmo Timonen didn't play beyond the 17:12 mark of the second period thanks to the ever-so-specific lower body injury. That's exactly what we need right now. More injuries. And Bruno Gervais in the top 4. On the tail end of a back to back tomorrow. Awesome. No more details yet, but with our luck and with him being 38 I'd guess he doesn't play tomorrow night. What do I know, though. Hopefully I'm wrong.
Quick turnaround to Montreal tomorrow night. Maybe we can trade for Subban if we find out Timonen's out for a while. Just bring him home with us and everything. Sounds good to me.
Comment of the Night:
I'll bet there are a lot of pissed of New York Jets fans considering Marty has a higher completion percentage for passes over 20 yards than [Mark] Sanchez.