Well that wasn't the plan. After resounding wins to start the year, the Flyers came into tonight's home opener poised to shut down Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin en route to a statement win. They got the win, but it wasn't how they wanted to do it.
In a back and forth, mistake prone game, the Flyers came out on top when Danny Briere scored 3:52 into overtime. The Flyers lost the lead three times, with Washington getting their first lead of the game just under 10 minutes into the third period.
After the game, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren stated that Blair Betts will miss at least a month due to a dislocated right shoulder injured on a lost faceoff late in the third period. He also stated that James van Riemsdyk got his "bell rung" and will be evaluated Wednesday. Obviously, Anthony SanFilippo, Tim Panaccio, and Ben Feldman (thanks for the tip) are all assuming concussion. For those wondering, he took two shifts in the third period after being helped off the ice, one for 28 seconds, the other for 49.
The game was highlighted by big nights from Ovechkin and Semin for Washington and Mike Richards and Matt Carle for Philadelphia. The Alex duo each had two goals while Richards recorded his second career hat trick and Carle notched four assists. The Flyers special teams again played an important role as the team converted 3 of 9 powerplay opportunities while killing off 4 of 5 penalties, including over one minute in overtime.
Defensively, this was not a good game for the Flyers. Nine players finished a minus for the night with only three escaping in the positive. More so than that though, the Capitals first two goals were scored directly on giveaways at the Flyers blueline: the first one by Ryan Parent and the second by Chris Pronger. Throughout the game, both players were constantly going back and forth between making mistakes and making up for them with strong defensive plays. This is something that will need to be addressed.
Compounding the poor defensive play, Ray Emery did not look sharp in goal. He made some big saves, and while staring down Ovechkin breaking in alone might not be easy, a lot of the goals he gave up were stoppable. He finished with 31 saves on 36 shots.
What to take away from the game:
- Ray Emery needs to play better.
- Chris Pronger is human after all.
- Ryan Parent and Danny Syvret need to develop chemistry quicker.
- Bruce Boudreau is very good at managing his bench, as evidenced by the quick change putting Ovechkin on the ice against Parent and Syvret for the first goal.
- The Flyers 4th line is very, very good. Only Ian Laperriere was a minus, and he was on the ice for Pronger's gimme to Ovechkin.
- This team showed some much needed resolve. Blowing three leads, and trailing with under 5 minutes to go, the team rallied to tie the score, kill off a penalty, and then come back and win the game. As Ben Feldman and eeeeee combined to say in the Game Thread, "This is what you call a complete team." "Yes sir, if the defense and the goalie falter, the offense is right there to pick up the slack."
Notes from the Wachovia Center (by Travis): I attended the game tonight, so here are a few observations I made that might not have made it through the television or radio coverage.
- First off, I thought Emery played a little better than Geoff did. He didn't look great, or even good, but there were still portions of his game that impressed me, notably that he's such a well-positioned goalie, he moves post-to-post so well, and always seems to be in the right spot. I thought Brian Startare made an excellent point on WIP tonight, noting that over in the KHL, there's a lot of passing and a lot of tic-tac-toe plays, and playing in that environment may have helped Emery's positioning a ton. I didn't watch him a ton in Ottawa, so it's tough to compare, but he's extremely strong at anticipating the play and getting himself in the right spot.
- Alex Ovechkin is just good. There's no debating that. But the defense simply didn't play well against him. It's interesting, because just yesterday Pronger talked about how you have to cut down AO's space, and that's the only way to limit his game. Well, he had a ton of space to work tonight and he clearly made the Flyers pay.
- The defense didn't really have a good game overall, but as several folks have noted tonight, this team seems to know how to pick each other up. Braydon Coburn and Chris Pronger didn't have good games, but their partners, Kimmo Timonen and Matt Carle, picked them right up. The offense, obviously, picked up the D as well.
- The turnovers were absolutely ridiculous, atrocious, and unacceptable.
- The power play looked great, while the PK got the job done. The kill didn't look superb, but that's just because Washington looks so potent on their own PP. The Flyers' kill in overtime was a HUGE momentum shift and allowed them to put the pressure on and win the hockey game.
Darroll Powe played an awesome game tonight. He took that dumb penalty, but man, especially in the third period, his energy level was through the roof.
- Boyd Kane made the Caps roster? What the hell?
- During the national anthem, a pressurized hose that went with the giant smoke machines that were used during player introductions must have come unplugged or something. It made a loud noise and you could see it whipping around the Zamboni entrance. It was out of control and it took the ice guys about 10 seconds to get it under control. It almost hit Lauren Hart in the back, which probably would've severely injured her, but to her credit she didn't miss a beat of the Star-Spangled Banner.
- Overall, it wasn't pretty, but the team showed a lot of resilience in squeaking out the win. They don't win this game last season.
Questions and answers after the jump...
Questions With Answers
- How well do the Flyers contain Alex Ovechkin. He's off to a hot start -- league leading six points already -- and he's always tough to stop. Which defensive pairing sees him most (Pronger/Carle or Timonen/Coburn) and how successful are they in stopping him? Not well, but good enough. With 2 goals, 1 assist, and 7 shots, Ovechkin got his opportunities. Both pairings saw him a lot, with Pronger seemingly getting the bulk of the workload. Unfortunately, Ovechkin's second goal came off a turnover by Pronger at his own blueline.
- The Capitals biggest weakness is their defense. Can the Flyers potent offense exploit the Washington blueline unit? Yes and yes. The powerplay consistently found passing lanes, the forwards crashed the net, and the skill players were able to create space in the zone. But this was a poor defensive game on both sides, with Washington playing from behind most of the game.
- Do the Flyers special teams play as well at home as they have on the road early on this season? Also yes. The powerplay was very good and the penalty kill was effective, especially when needed in overtime.
- Decibel level on the crowd? Loud. Very loud. But let's see what Travis has to say as he was there...."It varied from time to time, but after that fifth goal, it was certainly up there. Not quite playoff level, but close. But even in the midst of a tie hockey game, I always experience something at the Wachovia Center that I don't anywhere else. At certain points of the game, it gets dead quiet. It's not disinterest though -- it's 100 percent, undivided interest from the crowd. If you've been to a game in Philly, let me know if you know what I'm talking about, because it's hard to explain. It always strikes me as awesome though.