There's some irony, I guess, in today's 4-2 Flyers win over the Arizona Coyotes.
On one hand, the two points are crucial and the Flyers have -- at least until later tonight -- leap frogged the Devils and Hurricanes, and are just one point behind the Penguins for the final playoff spot in the East. (They are in action now against the Winnipeg Jets.) That's really excellent and really awesome and exactly what we want to see.
On the other hand, when defensemen Mark Streit has three points in the first period, and forward Sam Gagner plays like his hair is on fire against the team that traded him this summer, that's also good news. But we're cheering for those players in particular because by scoring and playing well today, they are showcasing their trade value to teams who might acquire them on Monday at the trade deadline.
Because the Flyers are both right outside the playoff picture, and yet at the same time they are likely going to sell off pieces like Streit and Gagner -- if not those men, specifically -- in the next 48 hours. I suppose these things are not mutually exclusive, selling at the deadline and also hoping for the playoffs. Because we sure are rooting for both things right now as Flyers fans.
All told, this was an up-and-down win today. The first period was played about even, but we were reminded of the power of Claude Giroux with the man advantage, as he lasered his 500th point to give the Flyers the lead. Scott Laughton and Gagner added tallies as well, giving the Flyers a big 3-1 edge after 20 minutes.
The Coyotes really came on in the second and third periods, though they didn't score again until the third. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who might be one of the most underrated defensemen in the NHL purely because of where he plays, made the third period interesting with a goal at the 6:33 mark. But Michal Neuvirth really was the story again for this team in the later stages. He wound up with 29 saves, and the defense in front of him laid down in front of another 31 shots.
So with the win and with the Flyers just one point out, we'll see if that impacts decisions on Monday or not.
Questions with Answers
- Giroux probably back in, Voracek out. How does the forward corps fare while shorthanded yet again? The top two lines played decently enough, particularly Schenn, Simmonds and Giroux. But it wasn't really an impressive performance by any means.
- A big part of the Flyers' improved play of late has involved better play from its bottom-6. How do they do today against a not-overly-impressive Arizona lineup? Bellemare and Gagner were able to score, but overall a bad team largely controlled possession for two periods today over the Flyers. That's not ideal, but Neuvy and the defense did what they had to do to survive it.
- Crazy week for Flyers goaltending. How do they follow it up today? Neuvirth was excellent.
- Can the Flyers' keep Arizona's exciting rookie forwards quiet? Anthony Duclair, in particular, seemed to be everywhere by my eye. Stats agree: he was a 64% Corsi player today.
- Does anyone get traded mid-game? You did. Sorry.
LET’S GO JETS>> goldomatic, suddenly from Winnipeg like all of us