Tuesday night's last second victory over the New York Islanders could have been described in quite a number of ways. "Boring" was not one such term.
On the other hand, tonight's marquee matchup against the Carolina Hurricanes could not be called anything else.
The Hurricanes have given the Flyers fits all year. They combine very good special teams with a willingness to line match throughout the entirety of a game, and from a possession standpoint, they have been playing great hockey in the second half of the season. As a result, the 3-1 defeat that the Flyers suffered tonight was far from a surprise.
Through the game's first two periods, the Flyers were only able to muster 14 shots on goal, and the only line that was providing any sustained zone time was the new Sean Couturier line. Unfortunately for Jakub Voracek's Art Ross Trophy hopes, the first unit was largely silent.
In fact, the only thing mildly interesting about the first two periods was Vincent Lecavalier's random desire to pummel Kevin Lowe's son at every opportunity. After losing a fight to Keegan in the first period, Vinny instigated a fight with him in the second, and took out five months worth of frustration on the first-time NHLer.
Aside from Lecavalier's temporary transformation into Jay Rosehill, the tempo of the game stayed calm until the end of the third period, when the Flyers made a late push to tie the score. Sean Couturier deflected a Mark Streit shot past Cam Ward with a little under three minutes to go, but Carolina quickly responded with an empty netter to end it.
With one game remaining, the Flyers' draft position is about the only uncertainty left. A loss on Saturday against the Ottawa Senators would lock them in at the seventh overall pick and begin an offseason of prospect speculation. Only sixty minutes of hockey left until then.
A few more observations on the game:
- Sean Couturier really was the standout performer tonight, even before he scored late. He was carrying the puck with confidence all night, and set up his teammates with golden scoring chances at least three times by my count. With his goal tonight, he's now only three points off his career high from last year.
- Pretty sure tonight's goose egg ends any realistic chance that Jakub Voracek had at the Art Ross. Oh well. Still a fantastic season for Jake, and he only needs one point on Saturday to finish on a PPG pace.
- After beating up Lowe in the second fight, Lecavalier was given 17 minutes worth of penalties and apparently suffered an "upper body injury." Hope it was worth it, Vinny.
- In what very well may be his last game as a Philadelphia Flyer, Ray Emery had a decent performance. His overall statistics for the night don't look terrible, but it seemed to me that he was struggling with his positioning all night long. A better shooting team could have had a few more goals and put this game away by the end of the second period.
- Claude Giroux could have tied it up with a one-timer late in the third period, but knowing that an extra point would only hurt the Flyers' draft position, he expertly ripped it right off the post and back into Cam Ward. Now that's leadership.