Coming into tonight's game, one had to figure that the Maple Leafs were going to approach this game with some sense of desperation. Six losses in a row would do that to any team. The city of Toronto's on the verge of crumbling to the ground. Their coaches and media float hilarious adages and quotes, and nobody, especially Randy Carlyle, seems to want to address the real issues plaguing this team.
And yet the hilarious Toronto collapse continues, as the Flyers handed the Maple Leafs their seventh straight loss in a little over two weeks through crazily efficient special-teams play and just enough effort to get by at even-strength.
The Flyers, thanks to a couple of penalties in a span of 30 seconds, got things started off in the first period with a heck of a shot off the wall by Vinny Lecavalier just three seconds into the ensuing 5-on-3. Aside from a couple of chances for the Leafs in the final 10 minutes of the first period, there never really was the sense that the Flyers were in trouble. Some mentioned that the Flyers 'dominated' most of the first period, but I just didn't see it.
The rest of the game? On a surprising note, even-strength play was pretty even. I know, right? That's kind of the way things have gone between Philadelphia and Toronto this season. I've seen the games between Toronto and absolutely everybody else in the league and just laugh. But facing Philadelphia? They don't look like -quite- the train-wreck we've come to know and love. Whatever, a win is a win.
The Flyers have now won 6 of 8 through this dreaded 10-game gauntlet of playoff teams (well Toronto used to be one at the start of this run.) The Maple Leafs have lost 7 straight, and they've got the Red Wings in the second game of a back-to-back tomorrow night. *Gulp*
So, hey, watch out for Riddick, Randy. He can't be too happy.
See you in the parking lot Randy...— Riddick Bowe (@riddickbowe) March 29, 2014
*After going 0-for in their previous two games, the Flyers potted two power-play goals in a combined span of ~8 seconds. 8 freakin' seconds. It took 3 seconds for Lecavalier to launch a rocket after a clean face-off win on the first period 5-on-3, and Scott Hartnell deflected a Kimmo wrister 5 seconds into a second period power play. The team is 2nd in PP% since January 1st, and that first unit is really, really, really clicking.
*Zac Rinaldo had himself a decent game, and that's saying something. He drew two penalties, one of which eventually led to the Flyers' 5-on-3 goal, and assisted on Simmonds' goal in the third period. As far as Rinaldo goes, that's the best you're going to get from him. He finished with a little less than 12 minutes TOI; if Berube's got fourth-line players over 10 minutes TOI, then something's going right.
*Jake Voracek was the Flyers' best forward at even-strength, and it wasn't even close. The Czech looked dangerous every single time he had the puck and kept the Flyers afloat through a sluggish final 10 minutes of the first period and entire second period. The line of Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell and Jake Voracek had 19 attempts on net tonight and only 11 against. 'Tis good.
*Jonathan Bernier finished the night with a .862 save percentage, but don't get it wrong, it was totally Reimer's fault.
*The Flyers are 1-0-0 on nights that I've recapped, so, there's that... Eat your heart out, Albert.
The Flyers welcome Boston to the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday afternoon. If the game is similar in any fashion to the last time the Bruins played in Philadelphia, then the Flyers are in trouble. Let's hope things are different. Go Flyers.