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Richards leads Flyers to 5-3 victory over frustrated Devils

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PHILADELPHIA -- A year into his tenure as Flyers head coach, Peter Laviolette in his post-game press conference today was probably the most entertaining he's been in that time.

Understandable to see why, too, because for the first time in at least a week, the Flyers earned a solid, resilient victory. It was the type of game that will never go down as the prettiest type of win, but it's the kind of win that the Flyers needed after a few lackluster performances in the last week.

The Devils took an early lead on a power play goal from Ilya Kovalchuk, but just 17 seconds later, with Mike Richards' line on the ice, James van Riemsdyk poked a puck through the crease and in behind Johan Hedberg. That was the way the day would go for the Flyers.

Hedberg made some big saves here and there, the Devils took two separate leads, and the power play continued to falter, but instead of getting frustrated over it, the Flyers actually looked better and more determined each time things didn't go their way. That's something we haven't seen over the course of this three game losing streak.

Richards led the way for the Flyers today, scoring a goal and notching an assist while laying down three hits. He took especially good care of Kovalchuk, playing physical with the $100 million dollar man throughout today's game.

Asked after the game if Richards' leadership on the ice today was noticed by the rest of the team, Laviolette said "I don't know how they could miss it." It was the kind of win the Flyers needed, and it all started with Richie today. He's really done it all year and it's gone relatively unnoticed. Today, it didn't, especially with the Devils.

Following the game, the big bitch-and-moan story in the New Jersey locker room was a high-stick from Richards on Jamie Langenbrunner that went uncalled with 20 seconds to go in the game. Sure, the Devils had cut a 4-2 Flyers lead to 4-3 with a power play goal from Patrick Elias with less than a minute to play, but would 20 seconds have made a difference?

From Tom Gulitti, Devils beat reporter:

Langenbrunner swung and missed on an attempt to bat a puck out of the air in front and then was hit in the mouth with Richards’ stick. Langenbrunner dropped to the ice in front of the net, but the officials allowed play to continue.

After Jeff Carter scored an empty-net goal with 1.1 seconds left to clinch it for the Flyers, an angry Langnebrunner tried to get an explanation.

"They couldn’t tell who’s stick it was," Langenbrunner said. "I just went and asked him and they couldn’t tell who’s stick it was, so they couldn’t call anything."

Devils coach John Maclean said, "they definitely missed one."

"There’s nothing you can do about it," said MacLean, whose job might be hanging in the balance. "What are you going to do? (The officials) are going to say ‘no’ and we’re going to say ‘yeah’ and we’ll watch the video and it will bear out that they did miss one."

Boo hoo. In the Flyers room, Richie just shrugged off the question and smiled when asked if he got away with one. He probably did, but from the 20 second mark until Jeff Carter scored an empty-netter with two seconds left, the Flyers won the face off and controlled the play throughout.

Even if you got another power play, it wouldn't have mattered, Devils. It is a nice excuse though. I'm sure your legions of fans (note: sarcasm) will continue to paint Richards as a dirty player no matter what.

Outside of No. 18's day, though, Carter wound up with three points and Claude Giroux finally broke through, ramming home a second-chance opportunity with enough force to put it through the endboards if he wanted to. Nice release after a few games of frustration, I guess, and Claude admitted as much after the game.

A few bullets:

- The Flyers honored a fallen hero prior to the game in one of the most touching pre-game ceremonies I've ever seen. Chief Petty Officer Collin Thomas, a Navy SEAL, was killed in Afghanistan in August. He became friends with the Flyers organization, in particular Jim McCrossin, when training in Philadelphia back in April.

The Flyers presented his parents with a framed Flyers jersey, and the entire team left the bench and skated over to them at the Zamboni tunnel to shake their hands. It wasn't planned, either. It was as real and as heartfelt as that stuff gets. Laviolette said after the game that he wished he had skates on so he could have gone to shake their hands as well.

- Ilya Kovalchuk is a dangerous player, and his shot on the power play that beat Sergei Bobrovsky is the perfect example of that. Yet again, however, he proved today that he's relatively easy to shut down. He continues to try to take the Devils on his back, trying to skate through half the Flyers team and what-not. I said this last Saturday, but he reminds me of that dude you hate in open hockey because he never passes and he takes 15 minute long shifts.

- Bob stopped No. 17 on a breakaway in the second period. Sweet, sweet feeling there.

- Ville Leino had another quiet, quiet game. Something might be wrong there.

- Chuck Gormley of the Courier Post asked Danny Briere after the game if it was nice seeing Carter make a pass instead of taking the shot on the goal Briere scored in the third period. Danny smiled.

- Giroux and Briere each lead the team in goals now, with 13.

- James van Riemsdyk's goal was the first the Flyers had scored in the first period since the Minnesota game. They had gone three games without a first-period tally and scored in the opening frame for just the second time in their last seven.

- Richards's goal gave the Flyers the lead in a game for the first time in over a week, and for the first time in 170 minutes of hockey.

- The Flyers have allowed five first-period goals to their opponents over the last three games and have been outscored 8-2 in the first period over the past seven games. 

Post-Game Video

YouTube isn't letting me embed video for some reason, but head over to the BSH YouTube page for vids from Laviolette, Pronger, Giroux and Briere. Lavi and Pronger are particularly entertaining, so you'll thank yourself.

Questions with Answers

  1. Afternoon game. Shootout, right? Nope!
  2. Power play, what the hell bro? Eh, still sucks. Lavi says "It's coming. Wait til tomorrow" with a smile.
  3. Can Claude Giroux get his 100th point? We'll keep asking this til it happens, Claude. There was some confusion on this. Basically, the Flyers game notes lied, and we thought Claude scored his 100th point on his goal today, but he didn't. He's at 98 though.
  4. Ilya Kovalchuk did everything but score last week when these two teams met. Can the Flyers frustrate him again? For the most part, yes. His goal was negated 17 seconds later. He wears number 17. Coincidence? I think not. 

Comment of the Day, Or, A Shamless Plug For Tomorrow's BSH Pick Up Game

The only thing better than afternoon Flyers hockey, is playing morning hockey before it

>> Vansteel