The Flyers put on quite the performance tonight, capping their efforts with an overtime goal to seal a win against the Los Angeles Kings.
I'm going to be completely honest with you -- I never expected the Flyers to put up even a fraction of what they did tonight. They were a, well, not so great team going up against one of the best in the league (and one that was coming off a six game winning streak).
But as the Flyers are wont to do, they honestly surprised me. They were utterly amazing in the first period, with Michael Raffl and Chris VandeVelde giving them a 2-1 lead to enter the second. More on that later, but given their opponent, that may have been one of the best periods the Flyers have played all season.
Sure, they definitely took the foot off the gas in the second and third, but that was to be expected to a certain extent. They were able to hold the Kings scoreless in the second, but L.A. finally broke through with the game-tying goal midway through the third.
And while the Flyers didn't score in regulation after the first period, they were still generating quality chances and a hell of a lot of shots. All told, they threw 41 pucks on net in 60 minutes -- an impressive feat for any team.
And all that hard work payed off when Brayden Schenn barreled down the ice on a breakaway to score the overtime winner. That goal was initially waved off for...some reason. No matter, though, because the referees overturned it with relatively no fuss. Flyers win, baby!
- For what seems like the first time in forever, the Flyers started this game off on the right foot. They controlled possession, got a good number of quality chances on net, and were indisputably the better looking team. That certainly was a comforting thing to see, especially given how they played last Saturday against Detroit. Maybe, just maybe they won't be the "come from behind" team that we had gotten used to last season.
- Jake Voracek is just the freaking best, and he is an absolute beast at setting up plays from behind the net. Both first period goals started with him throwing a pass into the slot with such expert precision that even latex magnate Chris VandeVelde was able to notch his first goal of the season. Jake seems like he's dominant in almost every aspect of the game, and it is ever so much fun to watch him progress with every shift.
- Can we talk about Michael Raffl? Ever since he was bumped up to the top line, those guys have looked absolutely dominant. Tonight he was able to chip in a goal that, while a little odd, was the result of all three top line guys working together. Oh, and Raffl is now tied for the team lead in goals (most of which have come at even strength) with some guy named Wayne Simmonds, who is rather good. All hail Raffl.
- Poor Jason Akeson. In the middle of the first, he took advantage of Drew Doughty (haha!) fumbling a pass at the blue line and took off like a beast to force an odd man rush. He then shot the puck, watched it bounce onto the top of the net, then witness it fall right in front of Jonathan Quick. It bounced around for a while, but never made its way to the back of the net. I kind of have a thing for Akeson, and converting on that play could have perhaps helped him convince Craig Berube that he's worthwhile roster player.
- The first period, for all of its glory, was not completely devoid of mistakes by the Flyers. The Kings were able to notch a short-handed goal after Tyler Toffoli took advantage of a bouncing puck that got past Michael Del Zotto. Maybe that's not entirely Del Zotto's fault there, but perhaps he could have done a bit more to try and prevent the puck from getting past him. For as well as the Flyers were playing, that really sucked to see.
- I feel like I would be remiss if I didn't say something about Shayne Gostisbehere. He looked…fine tonight. He had a pretty decent scoring chance early on, and wasn't afraid to make risky plays (which luckily didn't end up biting him in the ass). Overall nothing too exciting, but certainly nothing terrible. Given the composition of this defense, "nothing terrible" is something I'm more than happy to take.
- As for the other team's defense -- Drew Doughty got pantsed a few times tonight and that was really funny/awesome to see.
- Ray Emery was pretty damn good tonight, particularly in the second period when he blanked the Kings despite facing a good number of shots. He ended the night with a .950 save percentage against one of the better teams in the NHL, which is at the very least impressive. I don't necessarily think that this means anything for the status of Steve Mason, but Emery's play tonight certainly made it seem like he's the starter, at least for the time being.
- Mike Richards got his first goal of the season. Against the Flyers. In Philadelphia. Brace yourselves -- some annoying as hell headlines are going to be written about that. Hopefully no one will be so reactionary as to claim that the Kings won that tra-- Well, shit:
Oh, captain, my former captain! Mike Richards helps the Kings get the better of that trade and tie it against the Flyers 2-2.— Dan Gelston (@APgelston) October 29, 2014
- One of the big narratives of the evening was whether or not Sean Couturier and company would be able to stymie the dominant play of (ugh) "That 70s Line." So how did that work out? Well, while Couturier's line was able to keep them pointless at even strength, they were by no means completely shutting them down. That line may have a dumb as hell name, but they are pretty damn impressive.
- Zac Rinaldo returned to action and did nothing of note. That's either really good or kind of disappointing depending on who you ask.