Even though Sean Couturier is dead, the show must go on, or so they say. Claude Giroux was moved back to the center and didn’t look to have a lick of rust, Anthony Stolarz played his heart out once more, and a fairly exciting game (at both ends of the ice) would work out in the end for the Flyers as they scored six (6) unanswered goals for a 6-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres.
Two strong periods of play would make up for a could’ve-been-better performance in the first; an explosive third period was the major difference-maker in a game that easily could’ve gone either way from the beginning.
Oh, and Claude Giroux isn’t done. I don’t know if you remember that.
The first period spared nothing on dramatics. As an extremely over-the-top person myself, I can only respect the move. Neither team played well defensively, leaving the ice wide open for scoring opportunities at either end. The difference-maker would undoubtedly be Anthony Stolarz, showing once again that he’s got the chops to be a starting goaltender. Who knew!
The “key of the game” was allegedly to “keep Jack Eichel off the scoreboard.” Right from the start, the Flyers could not do that. Eichel is a dangerous player when left uncovered, and he often was here, if only because players like Radko Gudas simply can’t keep up with his speed. The perfect example of this led to the first goal of the game at 4:04. So much for keeping that guy off the scoreboard, fellas. 1-0 Sabres.
Jack Eichel is pretty good at the whole hockey thing. pic.twitter.com/5Ux4myPCr0— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 8, 2018
In many stretches in the first, the Sabres just looked plainly like the better team. It’s the same story we’re all used to. However, that’s not to say the Flyers didn’t get chances; Travis Sanheim very nearly got the tying goal as it snuck past Linus Ullmark and just barely caught iron, and a few key plays looked promising in the offensive zone. What I’m trying to say here is: not all bad. Not all bad.
Conor Sheary would take a hooking penalty at 9:02, and the ensuing power play actually wasn’t entirely awful. You’re reading this skeptically, and you’re asking yourself (and me) an important question: but did they score? Well, no. They didn’t do that. But! There was a flurry of activity right at the net, and it looked close! It wasn’t as lackluster of an effort as I’ve seen from the Flyers many, many, many times this season, and whether that is due to the Sabres’ defense slacking or whatever, I felt not-awful about that power play. Even if they did not score. They had the competency, they just lacked some finish. Moving on.
Clearly the Flyers did not listen to the whole “don’t let Eichel score” thing, because they let him score another one at 12:02, this time off the deflection. “But Emily, was anyone covering him at the net?” Come on, you know the answer to that, pal.
Not to be completely outdone this period, the Flyers would finally get one back, this time right off a faceoff win by Claude Giroux. James van Riemsdyk, looking a little bit more like himself, netted one past Ullmark at 12:52. Definitely a blink-and-you-miss-it type of goal. Welcome back, buddy.
Van Riemsdyk off Giroux's faceoff win! pic.twitter.com/6g2Ox82caZ— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 8, 2018
The period did little to wind down after that goal; both teams traded scoring chances at either end, forcing Stolarz and Ullmark to come up with ridiculous sprawling saves. Stolarz continued to look solid in net, and it was mostly thanks to him that the Flyers didn’t manage to end up down by more by the time the horn sounded. Not a sign of rust on this guy.
AFTER ONE: 2-1 Sabres, shots 17-15 Sabres
Whether this is a good or bad thing, the second period would look like much of the same stuff from the first. Neither team tightened up significantly on defense, and it was another back-and-forth period of play. Stolarz had the first notable play of the period with a stellar stop on Eichel up close, then another on Kyle Okposo off the rebound. Same story from the first: both goalies were forced to bail the defense out.
The Flyers would get their second power play of the game on an interference call on Rasmus Dahlin at 7:49. He took Wayne Simmonds down in the Sabres zone, and my man was not happy about it. Back to the man advantage we go.
Yeah, I’ll get this out of the way—they didn’t score on the power play. The first half of the power play did look promising though, if you believe in that kind of stuff anymore. Jake Voracek very nearly tied the game here, but was thwarted by an insane robbery of a save by Ullmark. That’s a “play of the game” moment if I’ve ever seen one. Anyway, I hated it.
Linus Ullmark straight up robs Jake Voracek. pic.twitter.com/6pY1tq24jy— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 8, 2018
The second half told a different story. The Flyers gave up a couple shorthanded chances here, you know, the usual stuff. I don’t want to talk about this power play anymore.
Here’s what I do want to talk about: Ivan Provorov. Yes, that’s right, our prodigal son has returned from the depths of mediocrity to give us the tie goal at 10:10! What a handsome boy. What a lovely, good boy, who I love and have missed deeply. I genuinely hope that goal boosts Provorov’s confidence and sparks his game. He deserves it, and also I deserve it too, most importantly.
Provorov ties the game! pic.twitter.com/uczAIHkQEm— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 8, 2018
The first few minutes following the tie goal would look pretty dangerous for the Sabres, as the Flyers constructed a lovely vacation home in the offensive period, throwing everything they had onto Ullmark. Unfortunately for the Flyers, though, he looked up to the challenge. The Sabres struggled here to clear the puck, and the Flyers were able to keep control. They looked fairly close to the go-ahead goal here, but it was just not meant to be.
Almost immediately, the game would shift to the other side of the ice, in favor of the Sabres. They kept significant pressure on the Flyers here, but lacked completion here. Stolarz once again came up big.
Because I am obligated to do this by my own conscience, I have to say that Michael Raffl’s performance in the second period was one of the standouts of the game. His strong effort to keep control of the puck led to Provorov’s tie goal, and multiple times throughout the game he made plays to keep the puck alive that looked truly special. I have never in my life said a word against Raffl, and you better believe that.
AFTER TWO: 2-2, shots 29-26 Flyers
I got donuts during intermission.
We have to go through some of the not-fun stuff to get to the actually-fun stuff, so the Flyers would teach us this lesson by taking a penalty at 2:15. Sanheim would go to the box for holding, and wow, remember how much this penalty kill has sucked? Remember how we actually hate it, and it’s bad, and we are bad?
Well, think of that no longer, countrymen. Lend me your ears. Claude Giroux scored a shorthanded goal at 2:49.
Giroux strikes shorthanded!— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 8, 2018
What a shot. pic.twitter.com/WnkQK2E4Bp
Yeah, that’s right, baby. Not only did we not give up a goal, but we got one of our own. If you wouldn’t lay your life down for Claude Giroux, I don’t know you, nor do I want to know you. Thank you for understanding. Goodbye forever.
Well, the goals start coming, and they don’t stop coming, and they don’t stop coming, and they don’t stop coming, and they don’t stop coming. A huge effort by Shayne Gostisbehere to keep the puck in at the line led to a goal by Simmonds (mostly accidental, but hey) at 8:10.
Just as Simmonds planned. pic.twitter.com/em5GArr2Eb— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 8, 2018
And they don’t stop coming, and they don’t stop coming, and they don’t stop coming. Remember earlier when I talked about how Raffl has had a great game? Yet another strong effort by him set Dale Weise up for a goal. Yeah, that’s noted offensive powerhouse Dale Weise, scoring another goal, like we all suspect each and every night. 5-2 Flyers with 10 minutes left in the third.
Raffl finds Weise, 5-2 Flyers! pic.twitter.com/s1hXuLHpZu— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 8, 2018
AND THEY DON’T STOP COMING, AND THEY DON’T STOP COMING. Travis Konecny got us one more at 11:00. What a deflection by Konecny, but the goal can mostly be credited to Giroux, who set him up in the perfect slot. That is four entire points for Giroux today.
Oh baby what a goal. pic.twitter.com/LtCjXyGpI7— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) December 8, 2018
The rest of the game was fairly uneventful. The crowd in Buffalo started to empty out, and the final nine minutes of the game was simply to protect the lead. An inconsequential fight between Gudas and Nathan Beaulieu would end in a power play handed out to the Flyers, almost as a spicy little surprise. This would close the final 30 seconds of the game. All the exciting stuff already happened, dummy.
But hey, one last thing. Let’s play a fun game.
- Twitter search “giroux is done.”
- Scroll past all the highly sarcastic and facetious tweets we were making last year, mostly the ones I made.
- Scroll until you reach 2014-2017 tweets.
- Hit that “retweet” button as many times as you like. Smile serenely to yourself. Enjoy the moment.
AFTER THREE: 6-2 Flyers, shots 41-30 Flyers