First a shootout win, and now an overtime win? All of a sudden, this Philadelphia Flyers team is becoming a little more fun to watch.
Jakub Voracek's power play goal in OT gave the Flyers the win tonight over the Washington Capitals, and it was far from a fluke result. Against a Washington squad 7-1-2 in their last ten games, the Flyers actually carried the play at even strength for the most part. Only a Alexander Ovechkin power play snipe and a fluky third period flutter shot kept this game from being decided in regulation in Philadelphia's favor.
The Flyers weren't just effective tonight - they put on an entertaining show. Especially in the first two periods, Philadelphia was executing a transition game to perfection, generating speed through the neutral zone and tons of controlled offensive zone entries. Tonight, in a game against a solid opponent, the Flyers truly looked the part of an above-average team.
Even more impressive is the fact that the Flyers played with only five defensemen for the final two periods and overtime, due to a Nicklas Grossmann injury. While the case can be made that the team is actually better off without Grossmann, the defense could have easily worn down due to the extra minutes. Instead, they stood tall.
After that disastrous conclusion to the road trip, it looked like this team was dead in the water, and fans were already beginning to dive head first into mock drafts and prospect watching. But the season isn't over yet, and unlikely as a playoff run may seem, at least the players still seem to believe.
A few more observations on the game tonight:
- Tonight's game marked the halfway point of the season for the Flyers. I'm hesitant to call the first half a disappointment, despite the poor record, simply due to the team's obvious roster flaws. Some players have exceeded expectations (Voracek, Del Zotto, Mason), others have been disappointments (Read, Umberger, Grossmann) and others have basically provided their usual production (Giroux, Coburn, Simmonds, B. Schenn, Streit).
- Speaking of Voracek, his game winner gives him 49 points on the season, and put him on pace for 98 points. Logic leads one to believe he won't quite keep up this level of pace, but 82 points in 82 games seems easily doable, at least.
- Nicklas Grossmann went down late in the first period with what looked like a shoulder injury after taking a check from Tom Wilson. While my article today wasn't exactly complimentary of the defenseman, no one wants to see the guy get hurt. Still, the hard truth is, the defense will probably be more effective if he misses some time. We'll have to wait and see.
- Michael Del Zotto showcased some great defensive instincts at the tail end of a Flyers power play, hanging back with time running out to break up a potential stretch pass to a Capital coming out of the box. Hopefully that (and his usual offensive contributions) are enough to keep him away from the press box for a while.
- In the big shock of the night, R.J. Umberger not only scored an important goal, but was legitimately one of the better players on the ice all game long. He finished with a 62% Corsi For, helped generate quite a few scoring chances, and even had a leaping bat down of a puck that earned him cheers from the crowd. Of course, he then immediately turned the puck over, but we are still talking about Umberger here.
- Sean Couturier was maybe the best player on the ice for Philadelphia. Not only did he score a goal and lead the team with a +10 Corsi, he did it while primarily matched up against the Ovechkin line at 5v5. Couturier commented after the game that the biggest reason for his line's success was that they looked to generate offense against the Ovechkin line rather than just sitting back and trying to contain him. Imagine that.