What was once a curse, turned out to be a savior.
The Philadelphia Flyers finally returned to their winning (and scoring) ways on Saturday night, defeating the Carolina Hurricanes by a score of 5-3. At last, the offense got rolling again, thanks in part to a relieving dominance in the special teams department. Philadelphia went three for three on the power play, seeing goals from Kurtis Foster, Claude Giroux and Danny Briere. Foster's goal? You guessed it! A howitzer from the point. Goals were also scored by ageless wonder Mike Knuble (his first) and Braydon Coburn. Philadelphia entered this contest 5 for 40 on the man advantage, a rather ugly statistic.
Giroux says the power play is about being on the same page.
"The power play, sometimes it clicks and sometimes it doesn't," Giroux said. "It's just about making the right plays. When everybody on the ice knows what they're doing, it makes things easier."
Easy. Something that, despite the score, this game was not by any means. Carolina out-shot the Flyers 42 to 24 (15-3 in the 3rd), yet still managed to lose the game. Why? Well for starters, goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov continues to be the MVP for the Flyers in this young season. He stopped 39 of 42 shots fired his way and continued to look composed in the cage.
"Bryz was a really strong player for us," head coach Peter Laviolette said.
Another reason the Flyers were victorious was, of course, special teams. It has been their Achilles heal to start this season, but Philadelphia executed on Saturday night. The Flyers killed five of Carolina's six power plays, a tremendous feat considering the plethora of shots fired Bryzgalov's way. While this is certainly something the team can build off of, they must still improve in the discipline area, leading the league with minor penalties.
Also, Tye McGinn was incredibly impressive on the first line tonight. He logged over 16 minutes of ice time, kept plays alive, won puck battles and showed chemistry with Briere and Giroux. The future is bright for this 22-year old and he should continue to get the opportunity on a depleted roster.
Note: The Flyers were without a key piece in Wayne Simmonds, who was dealing with head and neck injuries after catching an elbow from John Erskine the night before. He will be suspended for three games. Meanwhile, general manager Paul Holmgren announced that Simmonds has a concussion and there is no timetable for his return. Simmonds is as tough as nails, but concussions are such a gray area in sports. If he is forced to miss an extended period of time, the Flyers will have some major shoes to fill.
In a contest where the Flyers were probably outplayed, they made the most of their opportunities and executed on special teams. It was a huge win for the Flyers and a great way to kick off their four-game home-stand. In front of the sea of orange and black in the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers rocked Carolina like a hurricane.
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