Well, today has certainly been an interesting one for the Flyers.
Earlier today, Samuel Morin was called up from the Phantoms to make his NHL debut tonight, and we got confirmation that the recently-signed Mike Veccihone would also make his NHL debut tonight. Cue the collective tears of joy, offerings to the hockey gods, and shaking of knees from Flyers fans.
Finally! We were set to see one of our top defensive prospects (one who will kill you if you stare into his eyes for too long) and our Hobey Baker finalist from the Flyers’ Junior team (known as Union College) play top-level hockey.
For many fans, seeing Morin’s progression from the Flyers’ top pick in the 2013 draft to a player that looks like a raw Chris Pronger has been an interesting journey. He was the first of the prospect revolution the year before Hextall took over GM duties, and he is the one that might exemplify ‘Flyers hockey’ the most. Expect to see him kill a person on the ice tonight.
Mike Vecchione, on the other hand, is someone that many fans are not familiar with. In his final season with Union College, he recorded 29 goals and 34 assists for 63 points in just 38 games played. That was good for 1.66 points per game. In total, he finished his college career at 1.18 points per game. Thank the Lord Hexy that our amateur scout Shayne Gositsbehere is liked by his old Union teammates!
Oh, and did I mention that Chris VandeVelde was scratched? No? Because it was true, then it wasn’t true. Originally, VV was scratched, but Jordan Weal became sick, so he was put back in just an hour before game time. I think we should recite a verse from the ‘Hexy Bible’: "And the Lord Hexy said, 'Let us be ridden of the man they call VV, a man thrown into the fire from duke Hakstol for an ice hockey team, the Flyers. Oh wait, hold the phone, Wealser is sick, Y’all can suck it.'" - Vandevelde 7:6.
Anyways, the Flyers rode into Newark, NJ with playoffs not being a factor anymore. Still, there is a sense of pride in finishing well, and with the debut of two new prospects, this was set to be an extremely fun and exciting game. Also, they beat the Devils 3-0 last week, so that was cool.
Oh, and no:
The game started off with a penalty called on Travis Konecny. The Flyers did a good job with the ensuing penalty kill, and no goals were scored. That’s good. Early on, you could see a 6’7” mammoth of a man playing with Ghost, and he got a lot of ice time early.
Nine minutes in, the best 2-on-1 personnel the Flyers could have possibly had were out on the ice: Chris VandeVelde and Pierre-Edouard Bellemere. VV was the one carrying the puck, and you know how this ended.
Right before CSN showed their newly-created video explaining how to stream Flyers games live (as opposed to JJ and Clement showing us on a camera that looked like a poor late-night paid-program), Claude Giroux was cross-checked by Ben Lovejoy, leading to a Philadelphia power play. On the PP, there was an opportunity for the Flyers, but Keith Kinkaid was able to kick aside a shot from the point that changed direction on the way in. Wayne Simmonds, while attempting to stop Kyle Palmieri, got his stick in the hands of the Devil, leading to a slashing call that Bill Clement hated.
I just want to take a moment to say that slashing a player’s hand, even just a little bit, can mess up how they are handle the puck and can be dangerous. With Marc Methot and Johnny Gaudreau, we saw the extremes that slashing the hands can provide. While not all slashes to the hands should be called, they need to set a precedent to protect the players on the ice. I’m not quite sure of a solution at this time, and while that may sound like I’m complaining without a solution, I just wanted to start a conversation.
By the way, why does it seem like the Prudential Center is so, um, boring? It just feels quiet. I can’t quite say why; it could be the fanbase or the architecture of the building. When Ben Thompson ran into Wayne Simmonds while also knocking the ref down, you didn’t even hear anything.
With five minutes left in the first period, Colin McDonald received a pass while racing towards the net. Holding on to the puck, he skated to an impossible angle near the goal-line for a shot-attempt. Kinkead was already down on the ice, and McDonald just needed to slide it in the net. The puck, however, caught the outside of the iron. The New Jersey Devils seem to have defensive posts as well. How do they do that? Thankfully, I found out:
- Take a hair sample from Scott Stevens.
- Inject it into their Martin Brodeur fine, but overrated, wine.
- Pour the wine into a freezing tray that is outlined in the logo of the Kansas City Scouts and the Colorado Rockies.
- Freeze until frozen. You will know it is frozen when the end-result is as frozen as the Devils’ defensive system.
- Bend it by melting it with the blood of Eric Lindros (we will never forgive Scott Stevens).
- Put twine on it. Repeat for 2nd goal.
To be honest, the biggest highlight of the 1st period was a shot of Flyers superstar Dale Weise and Brayden Schenn vehemently discussing something. I don’t know what it was about, but it looked interesting.
Sticking with the pattern of this game, the Flyers took a penalty in the first minute of the 2nd with Brayden Schenn being called for the hook. Nothing happened on the Devils power play, and Brayden Schenn was happy.
Steve Mason was playing extremely well tonight, showing us all that he is worthy of staying a Flyer next year (different story, different day). With Coots being tripped by Palmieri, the Flyers would be going to the powerplay once again. As per usual in Jersey, they didn’t score. Coming into this game, their goal differential in games in New Jersey was 10-2 in favor of the bad guys.
This game was a bit boring. Just a bit. They got another power play with 6 minutes left in the 2nd. The Flyers didn’t score on this power play. The Devils got another power play. They didn’t score on this power play. C’est la vie.
Sam Morin made a fantastic play in the 2nd period when Taylor Hall was on a breakaway. Using his speed and reach, Morin raced back and made Hall look like a peewee player in NHL Slapshot (great game, by the way).
So, Sam Morin might be good. pic.twitter.com/3afNzEA0vR— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) April 5, 2017
Halfway through the 3rd period, Valterri Filppula did a fantastic job of blowing by Ben Lovejoy, and when Kinkead poked the puck off his stick, Simmonds had an opportunity to open up the scoring late in this game. However, his shot was sticked away by Andy Greene and went wide. Lovejoy actually knocked down his own net, which led to some complaints from Simmonds.
With six minutes to go, Michael Del Zotto got called for a penalty, and he was mad. And rightly so, though it appeared that there was some major embellishment going on on the part of Ben Thompson. Bill Clement, after telling us to buy some Flyers gear, was not happy with the call either. It’s a common occurrence in Flyers - Devils games to embellish if you are a Devil, it seems.
With three minutes left, the Devils committed a penalty, giving the Flyers an opportunity to be a man up in the dying moments of the game. With no goals and many power plays throughout the game, there was no reason to expect the Flyers to score. So I didn’t. They didn’t score. However, the Devils almost did when Mike Cammalleri had a chance directly in the slot, but Mason spread his pads out to force Cammalleri wide.
With no goals scored, the game headed to overtime. The Flyers came into the extra period 7-4 in games decided in OT, and the Devils came in 6-11.
John Moore, on a 2-on-1, took a pass from Taylor Hall to beat Mason under a minute into overtime. Voracek and Giroux were caught behind the net in the Devils end, and they were absolutely furious as Jake Voracek was clearly tripped by Palmieri behind the net, but no call was made, and the Devils won 1-0.
Sean Couturier, lately, has played with an offensive edge that is very exciting to see. At one point in the 1st, he took a slapshot from the boards near the blue-line. Usually, with the old Coots, he would look to move deeper into the zone and pass it. One really can hope that he will continue his late-season play into next year.
Mason also played stellar. The defense left him out to dry multiple times tonight, but he still stood tall. If this is his final week as a Flyer, he has certainly made the most of it.
Morin and Vecchione played well tonight. It is very hard to say just how well Vecchione played or could’ve played when he is on the 4th line in a game against the Devils, but he looked confident and promising. Morin, however, looked as advertised: a strong, fast-skating, towering defenseman. His play to stop Taylor Hall’s breakaway during the 2nd is a view of things to come with him in Philadelphia.
There are only two games remaining in the Flyers season, and they are both on the weekend. Columbus on Saturday, Carolina on Sunday. I don’t know if they should be bringing anymore Phantoms players up, however; they still need to clinch playoffs themselves (a win on Wednesday against Hershey would put them two points away from clinching), and I think that the experience of battling for a playoff spot would be invaluable for their development. No matter what, I will be excited if they are brought up, because it would be so much fun to see.
It’s the final week, Flyers fans. Let’s enjoy it.