There was no melee. There were no fights. There were no teeth knocked out, nor was there any blood drawn. But the Philadelphia Flyers honored Dave "The Hammer" Schultz as best they could with a 3-2 win on his night, tonight. Yes, the story of the night, regardless of the score, was his induction into the Flyers Hall of Fame.
His name will live forever in the rafters of the Wachovia Center and every subsequent building the Flyers call home. After tonight, he will be forever enshrined as one of the greats in team history, an honor reserved for just twenty of the hundreds of players that ever pulled on an orange and black sweater. He thanked his teammates, the front office staff, his coach, his family, and us.
But after the nostalgic ceremonies, there was a hockey game to be played, and the current incarnation of the Broad Street Bullies would successfully halt the streaking New Jersey Devils. They entered the game with an eight game win streak and they exited it with a one game losing streak and their first road loss on the season. How did Philadelphia do it?
For starters, Ray Emery put together another excellent game. It's one thing to out-duel Martin Brodeur in one game, as Emery did when these teams first met last month. But to do it in two games against him, as a member of the team he's owned for his entire career, is something else. Emery made 33 saves in total, and many of them came in an up and down first period that the Flyers escaped with a 1-0 lead. If it weren't for Emery's performance in the first twenty minutes, in which he made 14 of his saves -- many of them difficult -- the face of the game could've been vastly different.
The Flyers took over the contest in the second period, stretching their lead on a Scott Hartnell power play tally before penalties would turn around and haunt them. You can sit and debate the weak tripping call on Mike Richards at the 15:18 mark of the second period all you want, but when it comes down to it, the Devils capitalized on the 5-on-3 chance they had following it, trimming the Flyer lead to 2-1.
New Jersey was outplayed by the Flyers in the second, but to come out of the period with only a one-goal deficit was huge for them. It was also a credit to Brodeur, as well, who played great in the second. For a team that had made it their M.O. this season to come from behind on the road, the Devils felt good as they entered the third. Luckily, the Flyers came out and proved that they weren't going to let NJ come back on their ice.
James van Riemsdyk would score a power play tally on a fumbled pokecheck by Brodeur with about nine minutes left in the game, and then played suffocating hockey the rest of the way. The Devils would strike with less than a second left in the game, but it was obviously too little, too late as the orange and black sent them packing.
After the jump, a few more assorted thoughts from the evening, we'll answer our pre-game questions, grab some popcorn and watch the highlights, and select a comment of the night.
Some assorted thoughts...
- The Flyers defense deserves a lot of credit for this one, as well. As a whole, the team blocked a whopping 26 shots tonight. That's obviously going to make the game a lot easier for Razor.
Oskars Bartulis put together another clean game. He was a plus-two in 12 minutes, 27 seconds of ice time alongside Ryan Parent. He also blocked four shots of his own.
- It seems like every goal Scott Hartnell scores is an ugly one. Tonight, he banked it off of Devils' defenseman Mike Mottau and it found twine behind Brodeur.
Darroll Powe now has six goals on the season.
- Giroux set up Powe's goal with a pass that looked easy, but was actually extremely difficult -- a testament to the guys' raw skill. Without looking, he fed the puck through the slot, past a NJ defenseman, and to a wide-open Powe.
- Emery had to make a few key saves, but on the whole, he didn't have to work nearly as hard for them as Brodeur did down the other end. That's another credit to the defense for keeping the pressure off of their goaltender.
- It was two Brodeur errors that led to goals on this night. On the first, he played the puck around the boards to Arron Asham, a turnover that led to the goal. On JVR's game winner, he poked the puck out of the front of his crease, but it went right to the stick of the Flyer rookie, who didn't hesitate in putting it to the back of the net before Brodeur even knew what hit him.
- Speaking of JVR's goal, he deserved every bit of it. It came on a bit of a lucky break from his perspective, but on the two shifts leading up to the goal, he was working his tail off and generated several chances all on his own.
- We love you too, Dave.
Questions With Answers
- Do the pre-game ceremonies hurt the Flyers or help pump them up? It didn't hurt the Flyers, that's for sure, but it didn't seem to adversely effect the Devils either. The Flyers definitely won the early part of the first period, but the first 20 minutes as a whole were pretty evenly matched.
- Can the Flyers solve Brodeur, and can Emery out-duel him again? Emery did out-duel the Hall of Famer yet again. Their numbers on the night were similar, but Ray was much more composed in his net.
- How does JVR look in his return from the flu? Great. It didn't look like he was suffering at all, especially in the third period when you'd expect him to be gassed.
- How many fights are there tonight, out of respect for Mr. Schultz? None, unfortunately. That's okay -- there was a little scrum in the final second of the game, and Mike Richards channeled The Hammer a little bit in his response to Jamie Langenbrunner pinning Emery to the ice. Look for more December 12.
- Does the move to center help Claude Giroux? Hard to say. You could make the same criticisms of his game tonight -- that he passes too much, doesn't take enough shots, etc. -- as he's heard all season long. But just because he hasn't put a puck in the net doesn't mean he's not contributing.
- How much emotion does The Hammer show in his Hall of Fame speech? He didn't cry or anything like that, but he was definitely humbled by the experience. Most of all, he expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to play in this city and for this organization. He may have been a monster on the ice in his playing days, but Dave Schultz is an absolute class act and a Philadelphia Flyer for life.
Comment of the Night:
Ya know, I have to reprogram myself to not passively be okay with the Islanders winning. They have the same number of points as the Flyers now.