You can make the case that tonight's game shouldn't have even happened, what with the rough conditions out there in the greater Delaware Valley area. And you could tell that it was a struggle to get there for the fans who made it out there, with an announced attendance of 12,531 and an actual attendance that looked like ... less than that.
And it took the Flyers a bit of time to get those fans their money's worth. A sloppy first period saw the Flyers down 1-0 and failing to execute all over the place, generally looking sloppy with the puck and sometimes without it.
But with every game becoming more and more important, the Flyers managed to start picking it up midway through the second period. And that all paid off in the third period, as the Flyers finally pushed through for two goals in under two minutes of ice time and would make it stand up for a 3-1 victory.
Often this year, in the Flyers' wins against good teams, we've seen them squeak out one more goal than the other squad and hang on for dear life late in the game. Tonight, we were fortunate enough to see the opposite of that. While hardly ever looking like a truly dominant squad, they looked like they matched up pretty well with a really, really good St. Louis team. And they managed to pull off a third-period comeback against a team that had only one regulation loss this season when leading after two periods, which is quite the feat.
While the Flyers were led by one or two guys, I'd say that no one forward line was really a weak link tonight, and being able to say that is so key to this team's success -- especially at home, where the Flyers can control matchups. The only way this Flyers squad is going to come close to staying in the playoff hunt is if it's getting good performances from all of its forwards.
Every forward other than Zac Rinaldo played more than 12 but less than 19 minutes. To get a win against a team as good as St. Louis without having to lean too much on your big guns is a really solid sign. These are the kind of wins this team needs to put together.
* Since the attendance tonight was quite limited due to the snowy conditions out there, it was pretty cool of the Flyers to give out free sandwiches for everyone who attended tonight's game.
* Star of the game tonight is probably Matt Read, who played what was quite possibly his best game of the season. The Read-Couturier-Voracek unit got some pressure early on and couldn't cash in, but he came through big-time in the third period. He won the board battle that led to Michael Del Zotto's game-tying goal, and he was the one carrying the puck up-ice and waiting to find Mark Streit cutting into the offensive zone on the game-winner (more on Streit in a second). We've said this a few times this year only to see him fall right back off, but we think we mean it this time: it looks like Matt Read is back to being Matt Read. Great sign for this team moving forward.
* Very much an up-and-down game for Mark Streit. Clearly undeterred by having his initial application rejected on Monday, Streit made a solid bid early on in the game for the still-vacated scapegoat position. The Blues' lone goal of the night was pretty much all on him, as he sent a cross-ice pass right onto the stick of Vladimir Tarasenko and then let Jaden Schwartz basically skate right through him en route to the net. But it was his slick stickwork in the offensive zone that helped him create room to get the puck to the net, where Wayne Simmonds would tip home the game-winner. So we'll take the bad with the good here.
* R.J. Umberger why are you like this.
* On that note, though (since he set up that Umberger chance), Ryan White continued his really strong play in a Flyers uniform tonight, directly setting up a couple of chances and just missing out on a goal at the doorstep in the second period off a feed from Brayden Schenn. Never expected him to be much more than a fourth-liner but he's been a legitimately good third-liner in his time with Schenn and Umberger.
* As for the other guys on that line, though, can't help but notice that Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Chris VandeVelde (who both were all over the place tonight, and both came up huge in particular right before Michael Raffl's game-sealing empty-net goal) both got more ice time than Schenn and Umberger. Second time in three games where that's happened. The line between the "third" and "fourth" lines is getting a little blurry. (That said: Like I mentioned above, I didn't think any of the team's four lines looked "bad" tonight, per se.)
* Steve Mason bounced back from an iffy-ish performance on Tuesday, and while he didn't have to make a ton of ten-bell stops, he buckled down in the third period after the Flyers took the lead and predictably started sitting back. It seems clear that the team is going to ride him as long as it realistically considers itself to be in the playoff race. A bit of a risky proposition, given his injury troubles this year, but for now he seems up to the task.
* Michael Del Zotto is the Flyers' No. 1 defenseman right now, and it's not really up for debate. What a weird world we live in.
* Courtesy of our own Andrew D., here's your image of the night:
A lesson in "Stink Eye" from your Philadelphia Flyers. pic.twitter.com/G1xnh89qyj— Andrew D (@Drewski89) March 6, 2015
* Lastly, unrelated to anything else, but the Phantoms announced that Shayne Gostisbehere will not play in a game the rest of this season as he continues to recover from a torn ACL. A bit sad, but probably for the best. (UPDATE: When asked about it after the game, Hextall denied that Ghost has been shut down. Feel free to draw your own conclusions.)
Flyers sit four points back of the Boston Bruins for that eighth spot. You'll never guess where they'll be on Saturday afternoon! Big weekend comin'. Go Flyers.