Maybe it was Claude Giroux's speech after the game Saturday that got his team going. Maybe it was an awful game by a mediocre opponent in the New York Islanders. Maybe it was that they got all the bounces. Maybe it was a point of civic pride in defending the Phillie Phanatic against attacks from the north.
Whatever the reason for today's 7-0 explosion against the Isles, the Flyers needed it and they deserved it. It was the most-lopsided home shutout loss in Islanders history (!!) and fans on the Island are talking about the future of their head coach as a result. Meanwhile, there's some hope here in Philadelphia: Could this be the game that wakes up the team?
It certainly woke up Giroux. From the first shift of the game when he opened the scoring with help from an advantageous bounce off an Islander skate, Captain Claude was brilliant. He was the best player on the ice all afternoon -- skating hard in the defensive zone, circling like a hawk in the offensive zone, jumping all over loose pucks and creating a number of scoring chances. He and linemates Jakub Voracek and Matt Read combined for 10 shots on the afternoon, leading the Flyers offensive charge.
It was really a four-line effort though. Harry Zolnierczyk worked hard to get Zac Rinaldo a goal in the third period, and he was one of just three Flyers forwards -- Max Talbot and Sean Couturier the others -- who didn't have a shot on goal in the game. Danny Briere scored two goals, the penalty kill was perfect in five opportunities (including a two-minute-long 5-on-3 in the first period when the game was still in question) and the power play went two for four.
Just a great all around game for the Flyers. They even shut down John Tavares and the Islanders top line all afternoon -- they were completely invisible.
Of course, the Islanders contributed to the Flyers success as well. Evgeni Nabokov was all over the place on a number of Philly goals, their defensive coverage was sloppy at best and they basically beat themselves on that 5-on-3 chance. It was a game to forget for New York, but the Flyers deserve all the credit in the world for taking advantage of the opportunity.
Ilya Bryzgalov was great in his 400th career game, grabbing his 30th career shutout. All in all, just a really solid win for the team. We've said this with every good win so far this season (...the handful of them...) but let's hope they can use it to propel themselves forward with a big game looming in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
Comment of the Day
I want DiPietro.
>> mtitanic, simply because nobody has ever said this sentence before