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JVR scores first as Flyers crush Panthers, 5-1

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[Recap] - [Boxscore] - [Complete Coverage] - [FLA Reaction]

It seems the rust is gone. In a complete 180-degree turn from last Friday's loss in Florida, the Philadelphia Flyers dominated the Panthers 5-1 tonight in front of 19,007 at the Wachovia Center. Ray Emery was rarely tested, only having to make 17 saves in total. He saw just two shots in the second period and only five in the third, which shows you how excellent the Flyers offense was in keeping the puck in the Florida end. Danny Briere scored two goals and had an assist on four chances, pacing the Flyers in an excellent overall effort.

A few scattered thoughts from the win...

  • The Flyers completely dominated every offensive aspect of the night. From the power play, to shorthanded, to even strength, Philadelphia controlled the tempo and put 38 shots on Tomas Vokoun in the process.
  • Vokoun was spectacular, and the game would have been much more out of hand if it wasn't for his play.
  • I'm not sure whether or not it was a result of playing last night or not, but the Panthers looked absolutely dead for most of the game. They went 13 minutes without registering a shot in the second period and just couldn't get anything together offensively.
  • Simon Gagne finally got on the scoreboard, notching his first goal of the season tonight. It was a very poised play, too, corralling a bouncing puck along side the net and putting it past a flailing Vokoun.
  • Arron Asham just keeps on getting more confidence. Now with three goals in his last three games, he's making John Stevens look like a genius for giving him time on the top lines.
  • James van Riemsdyk had an excellent game. He showed a ton of poise working for the puck down low, and a beautiful pass to Danny Briere in front of the net resulted in the first Flyers' goal. In the third, he was rewarded for his excellent game by his first NHL goal, a beautiful one-on-one attempt on Vokoun.
  • The Florida Panthers official Twitter feed during the third period: "Just need to end this one and get home."

The biggest story of the game was the huge Mike Richards hit on David Booth in the second period. The video can be seen here. Most of the initial reaction seems to be that the hit is a dirty one, and given Booth's scary fall to the ice and the subsequent trip to the hospital doesn't help Richards' case. He was given a five minute major and a game misconduct on the play, which leads one to believe that the NHL will take further action. Paul Holmgren thinks it was a clean hit, saying that "there is nothing dirty about that play" and that "it's a hockey play and sometimes things like that happen."

In a previous era of the NHL, there would be no question about this collision, but today, with the leagues' efforts to take hits to the head out of the game, Richards could very well see a suspension. Whether that's right or wrong is still to be debated, but the league could look to make an example out of the Flyers' captain.

Booth was taken immediately to Methodist Hospital on South Broad Street (hat tip to Frank Seravalli of the Daily News). The good news is that, according to the Miami Herald, Booth is awake and has movement in all of his extremities. Our thoughts are certainly with him.

Coach John Stevens said postgame that "Mike Richards has as most integrity for the game as anyone else" and that he's "not a dirty player." Hard to disagree there. The Captain seemed genuinely concerned in the locker room postgame.

"Obviously, I wasn't trying to hurt him," Richards said. 'I was just trying to separate him from the puck. I don't have a history of hits to the head, and I don't even know it was to the head. It happened so fast." As you would imagine, Florida general manager Randy Sexton thought the hit was dirty, also saying that "these types of hits have no place in the game."

Over at The Litter Box, we're "barbarians." So much for respectable discourse and debate.

We'll definitely have much more on this either late tonight or early tomorrow, but back to the game, the Flyers played a great one tonight, looking great in just about every aspect of the sport. It's the way they should be expected to handle a team like Florida and they did their job tonight. We should expect a similar outing tomorrow on home ice against San Jose.

After the jump, questions with answers and comment of the night.

Questions With Answers

  1. Can the Flyers get to Vokoun? 42 saves is a lot of work in one night, and playing back to back, he could be tired. They put almost as many shots on Vokoun as he saw last night, and he looked up to the task. Still, the Flyers did get to him five times and looked great in doing so.
  2. How does the new "French Connection" of Gagne, Laperriere, and Giroux work out? Can Gagne break out of his slump? Gagne did break out of his slump, but it was on the power play. Still, the line looked good, and I'd like to see more of Giroux and Gagne together in the future.
  3. Can Arron Asham keep up his two-game goal streak? Yes! He did an excellent job picking up a pass from Richards in the slot to put it past Vokoun.
  4. Florida's power play is atrocious, sitting at 26th in the league. Maybe the Flyers score a shortie tonight? Close, several times. They definitely exerted some pressure the other way while shorthanded.
  5. How does the Tollefsen/Syvret pairing follow up an impressive performance from Thursday? Not very noticeable despite a Tollefsen hit that drew a penalty in the first period. Not very noticeable is a compliment, by the way.

Comment of the Night

Slim pickens tonight in the open thread.

So…anything interesting in this one?

>> Whale4Ever