When things are going well for the Philadelphia Flyers, they tend to be going really well. And tonight was no exception. Entering the third period of play in Minnesota, they led a relatively listless affair 3-1 in front of an announced crowd of 16,516 relatively listless fans at Xcel Energy Center. James van Riemsdyk was credited with getting his stick on a loose puck in the crease just over three minutes into the first period, and "Jeffie" Carter tacked on another with a pretty backhander that beat Niklas Backstrom five-hole at five and a half minutes into the period. In the second, Patrick O'Sullivan was able to bank a centering feed off of the Flyers' Andrej Meszaros and past a helpless Sergei Bobrovsky, and just before the second period intermission, Danny Briere capped off a pretty back-and-forth passing play with Scott Hartnell with a one-timer from the bottom of the left circle to give the Flyers back a two goal lead.
As the cliché goes, though, it was a defensive play that led to offense, and ultimately jumpstarted the Flyers. Seven and a half minutes into the third period as Andreas Nodl, out on the penalty kill while Blair Betts was sitting in the box for a slash, blocked a point shot from Minnesota's Cam Barker and was able to get to the puck in the neutral zone and move in on a breakaway and beat Backstrom with a beautiful shot to extend the Philadelphia lead to three. From there, the Flyers would not stop.
Nary a minute later, Ville Leino and Danny Briere had a little bit of luck as they executed a 2-on-1 rush. Leino attempted a spin-o-rama-backhander pass to Briere (à la Nodl's goal in Washington last Saturday), but the puck went off of one of Briere's skates, only to bounce right back to Leino, who had to simply tap the puck past the out-of-position Backstrom to increase the Flyers lead to four. Okay, okay, so the Flyers' so-called "skilled players" scored some pretty goals. This game's no big deal, right? WRONG.
Just past the eleven minute mark of the third period, Darroll Powe was able to win a puck battle along the near half-boards in the Minnesota zone and find an all-alone Jody Shelley streaking through the slot. And Shelley, much to the surprise of probably every person watching or listening to this game, deked the heck out of Backstrom and beat him along the ice in what was truly a thing of beauty. Nothing much else of interest happened in the remaining 8:48 of action because, well, I have a feeling many of the players were in the same state of shock we were in.
Assorted notes, answer's to tonight's pre-game questions and our Comment of the Night after the jump.
- Shelley and Zack Kassian had a go at it 2:45 into the first period. The decision very clearly went to Kassian, though to Shelley's credit, he was able to hang on for a good amount of time.
- James van Riemsdyk continued his strong play. His presence was felt more tonight than it had for what seems like a really, really long time. On the pre-game show on the Comcast Network, Bill Clement said that now that van Riemsdyk got that huge goal the other night against Montreal, he "may never stop scoring." Whether that's the case remains to be seen, but after a long stretch of near-invisibility, he's had a very strong couple of games.
- Sergei Bobrovsky, despite facing only 16 shots, was spectacular once again, making a few of the tremendous cross-crease saves we're almost starting to expect from him.
- Ville Leino not only had a strong offensive night (1G, 1A, +2), but made an impact defensively as well, backchecking to break up a Minnesota two-on-one late in the first period.
- An interesting and rare event took place tonight: while on the powerplay, Kimmo Timonen attempted to dump the puck into the Wild zone off the glass along the near side, but his bank attempt with 1:57 remaining in the first period literally shattered the glass. Literally. It shattered. The refs made the right call in having the first period intermission right then and there because of the amount of time it would take to fix the glass, only to have another seventeen minute break a few minutes after play resumed for the normal intermission. So when play started again, the teams played the remaining 1:57 of the first period, stopped play, switched sides, and had a center-ice faceoff to start the second period.
- The Flyers overall were 18 for 55 on faceoffs. Blair Betts was 1 for 8, Jeff Carter 2 for 3, Mike Richards 7 for 15, Ville Leino 1 for 2, Claude Giroux 4 for 13, Kimmo Timonen 0 for 1 (yeah, I don't know what happened there either; apparently he took a defensive zone draw against Mikko Koivu) and Danny Briere 3 for 13. That's going to need to get better going forward.
- On the Comcast Network telecast, JJ said that when riding an elevator with Bob earlier today, he asked if the snow that was falling throughout the day in Minnesota was something he was used to, and Bob apparently responded with something along the lines of "yes, I live in Siberia, snow all the time." He has clearly progressed quite a bit in terms of his grasp of the English language from just two or three months ago.
- Nikolay Zherdev was dangling and dipsydoodling a good bit and had four shots, but had no points with an even rating in his 12:06 of ice time.
- The Wild called up a tough guy or two for tonight's game. THE FLYERS ARE SO BIG AND BAD, y'know? ... Nothing develops on this front, right? Outside of Shelley's fight with Kassian, basically nothing.
- Sergei Bobrovsky is back in net. How's he look, considering he got shelled in his last game? Excellent, even though the lack of action might have prevented him from getting into a good rhythm.
- How tough is it to beat tonight? If Jody Shelley can beat him...
- The Flyers started off slow against Montreal on Monday. Can they get off to a faster start tonight? Not exactly an explosive start in terms of speed or pressure, but regardless, two goals in the first six minutes makes this answer a resounding yes.
- Patrick O'Sullivan was drafted by the Wild seven years ago. Tonight, he makes his debut with the team. Anything exciting from him? Got the Wild's lone goal on a lucky deflection off of Andrej Meszaros. He was noticeable in the offensive zone at times, as well. Good game from him.
- The Wild are a bad offensive team at 5 on 5, so the Flyers should have no problem shutting them down.. right? Right. Sixteen shots and one goal allowed.
With Shelley’s goal, I’m pretty confident we can now roll 4 legitimate scoring lines