PHILADELPHIA -- We all needed that one. The Flyers, who have looked [insert long list of really negative adjectives here] in their last four games, made some serious adjustments late in the first period tonight and went on to crush the Detroit Red Wings, 5-0.
The first 20 minutes were a little rough. Detroit hemmed the Flyers in the defensive end for much of the first 20 minutes, a problem Craig Berube attributed to a simple lack of intensity. "When you lose four straight," he said, "you don't play confident with the puck."
It's in these sorts of situations where special teams are all the more important. The Flyers had been dominated at even strength, but they took advantage of a power play opportunity 14 minutes into the game, and it all turned around from there. If Berube's assessment is to be believed, the goal helped them break out, regain confidence and tenacity, and get basically just relax a bit, and it carried over into the remaining 40+ minutes.
Of course, the win does come with a grain of salt. This was a Red Wings team without Jimmy Howard, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen. They were a borderline AHL team, and even though half of their shots on goal came in the third period when the Flyers were up big, they still played the Flyers better than the score indicated. It's not going to be anywhere near this easy when the road trip begins in Anaheim on Thursday night.
Some more quick thoughts:
* Scott Hartnell returned to the top line tonight and had three points, including two goals. He probably should've had a hat trick, but Jonas Gustavsson stoned him on a pretty feed from Giroux in the early portion of the second period. Nevertheless, damn good night from Hartsy and the entire first line. Good to see.
* Berube shuffled all the lines tonight, and all four of them looked really solid. Three of the four units -- excluding the Lecavalier-Schenn-Simmonds line -- had a goal tonight at even strength, in fact. Progress!
* Multiple Flyers players called this a must win tonight. Agree. Voracek: "Yeah it was a huge game before we get on our road trip. It's going to be a tough road trip. Obviously three tough teams. I think we played a pretty good game today and we deserved to win. It was a big game for us, a big two points. We got back on track, and we have to make sure we bring the same intensity on the road."
* Steve Mason looked really solid tonight -- and he got more than one standing ovation as a result (including when everybody thought he made a crazy save, but it actually just missed the net). He made a number of really strong saves when the game was still close, especially in the first period when Detroit was rolling all over the Flyers. The defense wasn't the best tonight -- although it was certainly better than it has been -- but Mason was there to bail out the team in front of him on several occasions.
* Penalty kill has been great all year. Same tonight.
All in all, fun game. Fun win. Needed win, especially with the road trip looming. Shit gets real on Thursday in Anaheim.