If you really take a look at it, it's crazy how the game can change in the span of one sixteen minute intermission. The Flyers, coming off of one of their best road wins of the season, started the game with what might have been one of their best periods of neutral zone play in a long time.
Aside from a couple of spotted chances early on, Montreal could barely test Ray Emery, let alone gain the zone with possession. Claude Giroux attacked open space well. The defense closed gaps and exploited the open space between Montreal's forwards and defensive corps. It's was night and day since the two teams last faced each other in Montreal back in November.
Matt Read was finally able to break his 25 game goal drought with an early wrister from the left circle that seemed to handcuff Carey Price. We all know about the injury (and we've heard about it a million times) that brought about Read's share of ciriicism this season. Some of it was deserved, yes, but most of it was unwarranted. You had to feel a goal like this was going to come, as he's had a very, very noticeable past two weeks (in a good way).
And then, I don't know -- somebody hit a 'destruct' button and the Flyers just went into a 40 minute shell. It wasn't really one of those score effects, system-adjusted shells that you see all of the time, but more like a not-as-good, slower-than-the-other-team kind of shells. The team was hemmed in the defensive zone for long periods of play. That's really surprising, as Montreal's not really known for being one of the stronger even-strength teams in the league.
But then again, neither are the Flyers...
Two periods of that, and any team would be hard-pressed to come away with two points. It all comes down to what I touched on in Sunday's recap: results over process. The penalty kill was strong, unlike the unit's last peformance in Montreal, and Ray Emery was pretty dang good -- but it wasn't enough.
You throw enough rocks at the dam, and it's bound to break. It's really hard to continue to take away small positives from a game in which the team gets one point, because, at this point, isn't one point pretty much a loss?
But, without further ado, here's some more observations:
- Can't say enough good things about the way the penalty kill has looked over the past couple of weeks. The main reason for its success? Regression of both goaltenders' shorthanded save percentage. The team has always been above average at shot suppression, but that abysmal save percentage was what skewed everybody's opinion. Despite the loss, that unit kept them in this game.
- Game to game momentum doesn't exist, let alone period to period. I thought the Flyers would be able to expand on one of their best road wins of the season (Sunday in Washington), and, for a moment, it looked that way; the team played a similar type of game in the first period. It all seemed to fall apart after the first twenty. It's really a shame, as the Canadiens aren't known for controlling play at even-strength. They're the type of team the Flyers should be able keep up with.
- Ray Emery had one of his better outings of the season, erasing a pretty ugly Bell Centre performance from last November. You can never really be upset when your goaltender posts a .958.
- Somehow, Coburn was blamed for all of this. I don't know, guys. Whatever.
- The Flyers now have points in seven straight, but that doesn't seem as satisfactory as it should. Six of those seven are one-goal games. At what point does this team become sellers?
The Flyers continue their four-game road trip in Columbus on Friday night. Scott Hartnell and RJ Umberger and Sergei Bobrovsky narratives and that stupid cannon abound. You might need lots of whiskey. Go Flyers.