There have been many boxing references associated with the Philadelphia Flyers through the years. The fictional Sly Stallone character of Rocky Balboa, and the Philly-native "Smokin'" Joe Frazier come to mind as some of the most often utilized.
But it's perhaps "The Greatest" of them all, Muhammad Ali, whom this year's version of the Flyers most resembles. Ali had his rope-a-dope, where he would lay back against the ropes and cover up his front with his arms and gloves and let his opponent give him their best shots. As it appeared he was just about to drop, Ali would instead launch an unparalleled offensive attack of his own ... and the result was swift and decisive in his favor.
For the second time in less than a week, the Flyers meekly sat back while burying themselves in a 3-0 hole, only to get themselves off the ropes and complete a full comeback with an exhilarating overtime victory. Friday night, it was a 4-3 win in Anaheim, as Claude Giroux one-timed a laser past Jonas Hiller for the GWG in OT.
Philadelphia would find themselves down 3-0 late in the first period on Wednesday night in Buffalo before finally launching a counter-strike. And it would again be Giroux who would provide similar heroics in the extra period. Make that "NHL scoring leader, Claude Giroux".
Some of the darkest moments from building the deficit:
- One of the worst sights of the night for anyone rooting for the Orange-and-Black had to be ex-Flyer Ville Leino scoring the game's first goal, especially on such a picture perfect passing play. While on a power play, Zach Kassian drew Ilya Bryzgalov well out of the crease, then dropped a pass back to Leino in the slot with a wide open net. It was just Leino's third goal of the season, and his first in breaking a 12-game drought. The Sabres are finding out the hard way just why Paul Holmgren didn't shuffle his lineup around to fit in a 6-year, $27 million deal for the Finnish forward. The fact that Braydon Coburn had a clear opportunity to get the puck out of the zone but was instead stripped from behind by Luke Adam to start the sequence didn't make it any easier to take.
- Buffalo's third goal was pretty weak. Bryzgalov looked a bit slow as the puck bounced and trickled past him, but then again, it's almost a prerequisite that Thomas Vanek scores at least once each time the Sabres play the Flyers.
Some observations from the comeback:
- There can be no minimizing of the importance of the Max Talbot goal at the end of the first period, barely beating the clock off a gorgeous feed from Jakub Voracek. It changed the entire complexion of the game, drawing the Flyers to within two goals, and probably changing Peter Laviolette's mindset regarding who would be between the pipes at the beginning of the second period.
- Zac Rinaldo brought a lot of energy to the team during the evening, and his fight with Corey Tropp seemed to put an exclamation point on the momentum shift originally delivered by Talbot's goal. Philly looked like a different team from the second period's opening faceoff the rest of the way.
- It was important for the psyche of Bryzgalov to remain in the game and hold the team in while they battled back. Laviolette is desperately attempting to get his number one on a roll, and he should gain some confidence in the fact the Flyers came back from an 0-3 deficit for a second time in three games with him in net.