Ugly. The Habs stomped the Flyers like an ant on Thursday night, winning 5-2.
B&P’s Take: There were flashes of brilliance for the Flyers last night, but this was not the same team we've seen over the last month. It didn't help that Montreal was on its game, either.
The Flyers just looked completely lost with the puck tonight. They didn't know what to do, there was no communication, especially between the defense, and Montreal was on top of them the entire time. The Montreal power play, struggling as of late, looked extremely crisp, and although they only scored two goals on six attempts, they were just swarming around the Flyers the entire time they had the extra man. It looked very last season of them, when they had the number one power play unit in the league.
This game was not Antero Niittymaki's fault. The defense hung him out to dry on two of the goals, and on others, they didn't clear screens or they didn't pick up guys who were left open, or whatever. But Nitty can't really take any of the blame on this one. I'm not sure any of the five goals were even his fault, and he made some marvelous saves to keep this one from getting even more embarrassing.
As I said, the defense left Nitty out to dry, but thankfully, Randy Jones is ready to come back. It seems pretty convenient that, when the defense has shitty game for the first time in a while, there's a new guy ready to come in for what could be just the right shakeup to get things going. Let's hope so. I'd expect to see Jones on Saturday afternoon against Washington.
It might've been better if it got embarrassing, though. The Flyers made it 4-2 with six minutes left in the third and were still in the game down the stretch. If it were a blowout, I would've liked to see some payback on Alex Kovalev for his elbow to Gagne's face a month ago. Gagne even called for it after that game on November 15th. But with the team still in the hockey game, you can't be doing that stuff trying to win the game.
B&P’s Players to Blame: We don't really care about the "stars" of the game when we lose, so these are the "anti-stars" of the game... the players to blame.
1. Matt Carle: He was caught without looking twice, and both times Montreal forwards skated in behind him, picked up a breakaway, and scored. Essentially the difference in the game before Latendresse scores late.
2. Ossi Vaananen: On the final goal by Latendresse, Ossi was basically standing in front of Niittymaki with his hand up his ass. Pick up a man, Ossi.
3. Braydon Coburn: As Carle's defense partner, he deserves part of the blame too. And he had no business scoring that fluke goal.
Turning Point of the Game: The Flyers went into the locker room after the first down 3-1, and they would need a big second period to get back into the game and shift the momentum. It didn't happen, and when that pansy Kovalev scored six minutes into the second to make it 4-1, the wind came out of the Philly sails.
Questions With Answers: I asked five questions in the gameday post. Here they are, reprinted, with their answers. All credit for this idea goes to Hockey Wilderness.
1. Will the top two lines keep it up? They’ve scored 17 of the Flyers last 18 goals. Can Mike Richards stretch his point streak to nine games? No, the top two lines were invisible tonight. Completely invisible. You don't win when your best players don't play like it, and that's what happened tonight.
2. Can the other forwards step up the production and take some work off the top guys? Kind of. The Upshall-Metropolit-Asham line worked very well, scoring both of the Flyers goals, and Asham himself probably was the best player for the Flyers. But besides those three, the rest of the offense sucked. Unacceptable.
3. Will the Montreal crowd, always known for being raucous, affect the game? Can the Flyers quiet it early? I'm not sure it affected the game, but it was certainly more obnoxious then ever. Their team got a big lead pretty quickly and the party never stopped.
4. Can Montreal break out of this slump and score some damn goals? Yes, and they did it quickly, building momentum an getting the crowd even more into it, which of course makes the comeback even harder for the Flyers.
Regroup. Shake it off. Can't win 'em all. Other cliches.
Capitals on Saturday. Go Flyers.