Maybe the Flyers got a little lucky tonight. They caught an opponent on the tail end of a back-to-back, missing players, starting the same already-suspect goalie both nights. The team they were playing looked pretty out of it other than maybe a bit of time in the second and third periods, and maybe they're just not that good. Who knows.
But after what I thought was a pretty strong first period, the Flyers opened up the second without a letdown. Quite the contrary, they played what may have been the best few-minute stretch they've played this season.
Each of the Flyers' top three lines managed to put a goal on the board (the last of which came on the power play) in a span of just 2:02. Just as soon as they'd finished celebrating one goal, they went out and did it again. And then again. For a team that's been criticized a lot for not keeping the pedal down when they start to play well, that kind of stretch was pretty much exactly what the Flyers needed.
The Isles managed to threaten and even put two goals on the board later on in the game, which isn't surprising because they're a good offensive team and when a good offensive team is down by a lot they're usually going to get some of it back. But those first 30 minutes or so of the game ended up being all the Flyers would need.
Every line wearing orange and black looked good tonight. No defensive pairing seemed to be really out of place. It was the type of team, up-and-down-the-lineup effort we saw three times this week, and when facing three mediocre-to-bad teams at home, that is the kind of thing a good team does.
The Flyers did it. Are they a good team? Not sure anyone knows at this point. But they're .500 now (well, .500 in regulation), which is cool with me.
Some quick thoughts and notes:
* The Flyers' streak of not giving up an even-strength goal came to an end tonight, which was sad. By my count, they had played 264:39 of 5-on-5 time between Taylor Hall's goal two weeks ago and John Tavares' goal in the second period tonight. Round of applause, everyone.
* On that note, Steve Mason was good again. Withstood that barrage from the Isles after they got back into the game, and seemed pretty sound on the whole, other than a stupid delay of game penalty late in the game when he put the puck over the glass. His save percentage for the year is up to .933. Someone pinch me.
* Not surprisingly, that third line spent the lion's share of its ice time matched up against John Tavares' group, and it fought them more or less to a draw in terms of possession (full head-to-head chart here). Not an easy thing to do, and it's another game where they deserve a ton of credit for their efforts.
* It may not get a ton of attention, but I loved what every forward on the ice did for that fourth goal that put the game on ice. Giroux gets the puck off of Frans Nielsen's stick and onto Voracek's, Voracek works his way around/through two guys to put the puck on net, and Schenn beats three Isles to the rebound in the slot and roofs it over Nilsson. Fantastic effort at the end of the game there by all involved when it was needed most.
* Two points tonight for each of the aforementioned gingers, by the way. Claude Giroux's looked a lot more Claude Giroux-ey lately. It's pretty cool.
* The penalty kill finally was spotless in a game! And they only had to make three appearances, which is progress.
* Remember when the Flyers couldn't win or score at home? Four wins in a row at the Wells Fargo Center. They've also now drawn into a tie with the Rangers for fourth in the Metropolitan Division. (CORRECTION: well, they did for about five minutes and then the Rangers won tonight. Back to fifth. Still moving in the right direction.)
* At this time a month ago, the Flyers were 1-7-0. They're now 10-10-2. Not a bad turnaround, boys.
Questions with Answers:
- Does the Read - Couturier - Downie line bring continued excellence? Obvi. Read scored the first goal (and the empty netter), and they matched up pretty darn well with the Tavares line. Another really nice effort.
- Is the even-strength defense/goaltending still awesome? They gave up goals. TWO of them, even. What an embarrassing disappointment. But I guess that's acceptable. Mason was excellent again.
- Can the penalty kill be a bit better? 3 for 3. That's better!
- The first period against Buffalo was ugly. Any better today? No goals, but the Flyers definitely had the better of play in the opening frame. Nice to see.
- BONUS QUESTION: Does the MSG+ crew calling the game for the Isles pronounce Kimmo Timonen's name right at any point during their broadcast? Howie Rose pronounced it right the first time he said it and then to the best of my recollection didn't get it right again the rest of the broadcast. Hey, that's progress!
Comment of the Night:
Who needs porn when you can just watch our 3rd line playing hockey games?
-- Clutterbuck4MVP, with a comment I swear I did not just pick for SEO purposes
Off to Florida for an atypical Monday night game this week. Keep this going. Go Flyers.