It's rare that the officials determine the final outcome of a hockey game. Very rare. Bad calls are made every game and it's part of hockey to take those punches and overcome them.
But it's even more rare that you put the puck in the net twice and the officials take those goals away from you. That happened to the Flyers today.
First, it was a botched goaltender interference call in the first period.
The goal should have made the score 1-1. The Flyers turned it on in the second period and took a 2-1 lead on goals from Claude Giroux, a pregnancy-inducing beauty of a shot on the power play, and Sean Couturier, who tipped a Kurtis Foster point blast by Ryan Miller.
Buffalo took the lead back with two power play goals -- one late in the second and one with about five minutes left in the third. The game should have been tied, but the Flyers were still in it only down a goal. Then, Cody Hodgson made it 4-2 on an ugly play where the puck was bouncing in the crease. It was (correctly) ruled that the puck went off Hodgson's skate but wasn't kicked in, so the goal counted. Seemed to be the nail in the coffin.
But just minutes later:
Early whistle. Puck crossing the goal line. The Flyers and Sabres had played to a 4-4 tie at this point of the game, but the scoreboard read 4-2. It doesn't get much more infuriating than that, especially considering these two errors are not even close to up for debate. Objectively, the Flyers were robbed of two goals and likely, a point in the standings.
Buffalo scored an empty netter to seal the deal, and suddenly, the lockout seems not so bad. (Okay, that's a joke.)
All that said, the Flyers were not even close to perfect today. They could have taken over this hockey game in the second period and were done in by weak special teams, poor defense and missed opportunities. Some notes:
* The penalty kill was just absolutely brutal. The difference in the game, truly. A communication breakdown in the second period by Max Talbot and Sean Couturier led directly to a Buffalo goal. Thomas Vanek had a clear path to the net and beat Bryzgalov clean on a breakaway because nobody knew where the hell to stand. Buffalo went three-for-six on the PP. Unacceptable.
* Shot differential was just a joke today. Thanks to Eric T. for pulling these numbers. All even strength here.
Kurtis Foster was the only player with a positive shot differential, and he was just plus-1. Nicklas Grossmann, Matt Read and Brayden Schenn were each minus-2, Giroux, Coots, Andrej Meszaros and Jake Voracek were minus-3, Wayne Simmonds, Scott Laughton and Eric Wellwood were minus-4, Ruslan Fedotenko was minus-5, Braydon Coburn was minus-6, Luke Schenn minus-7, Scott Hartnell and Max Talbot minus-8, Kimmo Timonen minus-12. Just awful.
* Luke Schenn had one really great play, breaking up a 3-on-1 in the second period. Other than that, a whole lot to forget. Two brutal penalties (ticky tack as one of them may have been, it was a penalty by the book) that each led to Buffalo goals.
* Zac Rinaldo got a skate to the leg. Likely out for at least a game, but we'll see. No tendon damage or anything, so that's good news.
* You can feel it coming already: People blaming Ilya Bryzgalov. If you blame Bryz for either one of these two losses thus far, you are insane. Period. He's been, quite possibly, the Flyers best player in each of these games. Absolutely not his fault. But, I guess since he's funny and jokes about the universe and shit, he's an easy target. Fuck off.
* First period was rough again. Early deficits are not good, fellas. Showing up at the opening faceoff has been an issue for years and it's showing no signs of letting up this year.
* Top PP unit looks great. Second PP unit makes me want to get hit in the face with a wrecking ball like I'm the Spectrum. It's amazing how much of a disparity there is there. Danny Briere coming back should help the balance, though.
* Steve Ott and Pat Kaleta might make the Sabres the easiest team to hate team in the league. They're right up there with the Bruins, for sure.
Comment of the Day
Kaleta is first team All-Ugly.