BOSTON -- As Claude Giroux (and his line) go, the Flyers go. That was the deal a year ago, and that was the deal again tonight in the season opener. The captain was utterly invisible as an offensive player tonight, and his line was completely dominated by the Bruins top unit, led by Patrice Bergeron, in what turned out to be a 2-1 Flyers loss.
Reilly Smith and Chris Kelly scored for the Bruins. Kelly's goal came at the 18:09 mark of the third period, and it was just a damn heartbreaker after the Flyers had held in there behind Steve Mason and even controlled play for long stretches early in the second and third periods. Sean Couturier made it 1-1 midway through the third at the end of one of those nice stretches, but the Flyers couldn't hang on during a huge Boston push in the final 7 minutes or so.
The top line was outclassed tonight by Boston's best, but this was a winnable game with some definite positives. Let's get into some of those positives -- and, of course, the negatives -- below.
- I thought Steve Mason had a wonderful game, especially in the first period when the Bruins really controlled the flow of the game. He kept the Flyers in it, and seemed to track the puck extremely well even when the Bruins successfully set up shop in front of the crease. He didn't have to make many (any?) big stops, but he was a calm force in the nets tonight. Encouraging signs in Game 1.
- On the other end of the ice, Tuukka Rask gave up several juicy rebounds and the Flyers just couldn't find them. Rask had a good game tonight, but was beatable much more frequently than the Flyers actually beat him.
- Mason made the initial save on the game-winning goal, but we're not really sure what Michael Del Zotto was doing in front. It was a weird goal that popped up in the air after the first save, and we'd like another look at it, but it's hard to figure how that thing wound up in the net.
- Faceoffs were not the best, and played a large part in why the Giroux line lost the battle against Boston's line with defensive stud Patrice Bergeron. Giroux won just 19 percent of his faceoffs while Bergeron won 78 percent. That's not good when half the purpose of this game is to control the puck.
- Other than the Giroux line, the rest of the forwards acquitted themselves pretty nicely in the possession battle. The second line of Matt Read, Sean Couturier and Wayne Simmonds won their possession battle, while the third line and fourth lines about broke even. Bergeron is a great defensive forward and he and his line beat the Flyers tonight. Sucks, but there were good things seen with the rest of the lineup.
- Jake Voracek made Sean Couturier's third period game-tying goal happen. He picked the puck up behind the net and beat a defender, circling in front and throwing it on net. It deflected off the Bruin, and then apparently off Couturier, to beat Rask. Garbage goal, but earned by Jake.
- The Flyers also need to shoot the dang puck more. I'm looking at you, Jake, in the third period with the puck on your stick near the net.
- The passing needs work, both on the shipping and the receiving end. Sloppy passes all night long in all three zones, from honestly just about every line, every pairing and every special teams unit. It's the first game of the season so this stuff is going to happen, but it's definitely something to work on.
- Of course Zac Rinaldo had the first game of the season, and of course it cost the Flyers a goal against. The penalty killers weren't perfect, and three of them got pulled into the corner with the puck carrier. But the Rinaldo penalty, in which he got his stick up on Torey Krug, was to blame. We want to believe Zac can be a changed hockey player like he's said he will be for years, but he's gotta show it with discipline, especially since the penalty was taken in the offensive zone.
- Bobby Robins, who might as well be 40 years old and hasn't played a game in the NHL before tonight, laid a crappy hit on Rinaldo in the second period. See it here. We don't care so much about that, considering that half of Rinaldo's job is to piss off the other team and make them make stupid mistakes. He's effective when he has guys like Robins, who can't play the game, out there taking runs. We do care that the penalties somehow evened up after this. NHL officials are in midseason form.
- The Bruins gave us a schedule magnet. Taking suggestions on what to do with it.
- Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was absolutely everywhere tonight. The guy is fast, he has hands, he can gain the zone in some nifty ways, and it literally felt like he was making something happen every time he hit the ice. It's nice having that kind of skill on the fourth line, even though Berube still used that fourth line sparingly tonight.
Comment of the Night
You’re an adult who calls himself Dougie. Take a seat, you fucking child.