During the four-game winning streak that the Flyers brought into today's game, there's been a little bit of a sense of inevitability that eventually the defense was going to sort of give out and cost this team a game. Nothing against Oliver Lauridsen or Erik Gustafsson or Kent Huskins or Bruno Gervais, who've done an admirable job lately, but they are what they are, and when those guys are filling out spots on your top and second pairing, bad things are eventually going to happen, possibly in spectacular fashion.
Today, over a span of 6:28 in the second period, bad things happened in spectacular fashion. Four straight goals against, all at even strength, absolutely destroyed the benefits of what had been a great first period for the Flyers. It was probably the worst frame the team has played all season, from the patchwork defense to the forwards who couldn't sustain any possession to Ilya Bryzgalov. Pretty crappy way to see a stretch of good play brought to a screeching halt like that.
And then they came out in the third (with Steve Mason in net, so good on Peter Laviolette for giving his goalie a rest or something) and just had nothing. It just...hey, Wayne Simmonds, what'd you think of how you guys did out there?
Simmonds: "We sucked. We went back to our old ways." #Flyers— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) April 6, 2013
Man, ain't that the truth. Quick bullets:
* Sean Couturier, off a five-point-in-four-game stretch, played less ice time than any Flyer not named Hall, Rosehill, or Gagne, because that makes sense.
* Speaking of Rosehill, he (a) is now at two fights in two games with the Flyers, and (b) was on the ice for a defensive zone draw with Couturier and Hall against Evander Kane's line late in the second. Guess how that ended up.
* Evander Kane, by the way, is really good. Didn't even have to throw any helmets today to prove it.
* Ilya Bryzgalov was...I don't know. Looked great, I thought, up until the run began late in the second period. On most of them I thought he pretty plainly got hung out to dry, given that two of them ended with the puck and a Jet alone together in the crease. And even the other two came off a rush. But as Bryan Little shot the puck that ended up making it 4-1, he just...didn't move. I don't know. Maybe he's defeated. Or maybe he's tired because playing 22 straight starts is not something that hockey goalies should ever do. Hell if I know.
* Steve Mason came in and stopped all nine shots in the third period. I'm guessing he's going to get the start on Tuesday, because it wouldn't be Philadelphia without some semblance of a goalie controversy following a nine-save relief appearance.
* The Flyers really did play well in the first period. Winnipeg went the final 15:04 of the period without a shot on net, which is insane. Your guess as to what happened after that is as good as mine.
* Lastly, because the Hockey Gods just love doing this crap to us, Luke Schenn got hit in the face with a puck in the second period. Scary stuff with lots of blood, though he ended up coming back in because hockey players, etc. Hopefully that wasn't a bad decision that may exacerbate any head issues that could come as a result of taking a puck to the face and all. Oh, and maybe it's not a coincidence that everything went to hell shortly after he left.
* Oh, one other thing: Kimmo Timonen played, despite injury, and was on the ice for zero goals against. Not human.
This isn't the end of the playoff run, as there are several games between now and Tuesday night that can help the Flyers get back in it. But this hurts, for sure, and it basically makes Tuesday night's contest in Long Island about as much of a must-win as can be.
Questions with Answers:
- More good stuff from Sean Couturier, who's on a four-game point streak? Kinda have to play him, and put him with people who aren't Adam Hall and Jay Rosehill, to see that happen.
- Can the Schenn/Lauridsen pairing replicate what it did on Thursday night? Schenn got hit in the face with a puck and Lauridsen had by far his worst game at the NHL level. Gonna go with "no".
- 22 straight for Bryz. How's that work out? Replaced by Steve Mason. Oops.
- The last time these two teams played, the Flyers won on the strength of three PP tallies. They haven't notched one on the PP since last weekend. Can that improve? Nope, and in three tries it looked pretty pitiful.
Comment of the Night:
At least we can go enjoy our parks, Winnipeg will never know that feeling.