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Flyers 1, Rangers 0: Anthony Stolarz, welcome to the resistance

Just as we predicted they would, the Flyers have won five games in a row.

Philadelphia Flyers v New York Rangers Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Well, the Flyers are good again, just like we all expected.

I do not claim to understand this team. I will be the first to admit that. When they’re good, I’m happy, because they are winning and I love to see them win, and they all look so happy on the ice, and give each other hugs. I believe we all deserve to witness a little more love and joy in this current social and political climate. That’s corny, but it’s true. If you don’t feel a lightness in your step upon seeing the boys happy, I can’t relate. I care about them, on a personal level, deeply.

When they’re bad, however, I oscillate between two extremes: unending, violent rage, or a cavernous void of apathy. I prefer the anger, as it reminds me how much I love them and love the sport. The apathy is worse, I think; it’s an abyss I stare into, and feel it stare back at me. It’s an entity, but it’s also nothingness. It’s deeper than unhappiness or disappointment. It’s both empty and tangible. I fear it.

The point I am slowly meandering towards here is that this team has made me feel all three of these things at different points of this season. That’s a lot of emotions to cycle through in a short amount of time. It’s completely exhausting and draining. I don’t know how I’m meant to survive like this.

Anyway, the Flyers won tonight, and I’m so happy! Sports are good and fun and they do not dictate my life in any significant way, because I’m a rational, well-adjusted human being who deals with things quite well.

Anthony Stolarz was the difference-maker tonight, folks, and it wasn’t even remotely close. He did everything except for score the one (1) goal the Flyers had all night, and spiritually he may as well have (sorry, Lindblom). This was another case of the forwards and defensemen leaving their goaltender out to dry, but it turns out when you have good goaltending, that can kind of work out, anyway. Who knew that’s what it was like?

In a move that was entirely precedented and unsurprising, the Flyers didn’t take long at all to get on the scoreboard. Oskar Lindblom took advantage of a wildly confusing mess of bodies in front of the Rangers net and got one in on [googles furiously] Alexandar Georgiev, whose name I know I just spelled right. Only 1:40 into the first, and the Flyers have a lead. Hockey is good.

Although that would be the only real highlight of the period, it does not matter, because the rest of the first would be the Anthony Stolarz Show, which is either a sitcom with a hysterical laugh track or an edgy HBO drama. Either way, the point is that he was goddamn sharp, and he needed to be. The boys playing in front of him were definitely not going to make it easy on him, for nebulous reasons I cannot quantify, and he bailed them out again and again (and again).

A delayed penalty was called on Travis Sanheim for tripping at 8:27, and with great pleasure, I got to see our wonderful penalty kill do its business.

Perhaps, in some way, it sounds like I am making a joke. Being facetious. Playing a little word prank on you guys. I know it is so like me to do those things, and you would not be wrong to assume it. However, I am pleased to say that I’m not joking. I get a little thrill whenever the penalty kill is on the ice. It’s just not bad anymore, guys. Open your heart up to it. It’s not bad anymore. Repeat it to yourself, until you can carry it with you in your soul. The penalty kill is simply not bad anymore.

Illustrating this perfectly, the Rangers didn’t manage to get a single shot on goal during their power play. I am smiling serenely and enjoying myself, as you should also be.

The five-on-five stuff... well, it could be better. By that, I mean that the Flyers were held to zero shots over a course of nine entire minutes. Incredible. And they’re winning? My God.

AFTER ONE: 1-0 Flyers, shots 13-12 Rangers; Flyers goal scored by Oskar Lindblom (1:40)

It is beyond past my bedtime right now.

This section will be short; that is, short for me, as I am historically known for my inability to be succinct. It’s just that not a whole lot happened in this period.

The Flyers were painfully outshot throughout the entire second period, held to three shots as compared to New York’s twelve. It is beyond a miracle to me that the Flyers are winning this game, though perhaps not quite a miracle, and simply something more tangible than that: goaltending.

Say these words out loud: “The Flyers have a competent goaltending tandem.” Isn’t there just something about the way those words feel in your mouth? My God. It only took them an entire lifetime.

The Flyers were given their first power play off an interference call on Marc Staal at 4:30, and I was beside myself with glee at the chance to see the five-forward power play once again. Unfortunately, as is often the case with this exceptionally weird experiment, they did not score, and could not manage a shot on goal. They also gave up a shorthanded opportunity. Par for the course these days, it seems.

Christian Folin, doing some hockey or whatever, was sent to the box for tripping at 12:06. Despite a valiant effort by the Rangers to tie the game here, Stolarz said no, absolutely not, get goddamn wrecked idiot, I’ll see you in hell. It was positively thrilling. I don’t know what I did to deserve this, but I do know that it’s about time.

Nothing else happened in this period. I could’ve easily just written “Anthony Stolarz was very good and no one scored” and it would’ve been a perfectly good description of what happened.

AFTER TWO: 1-0 Flyers, shots 25-15 Rangers

Although I was not confident in the Flyers and their ability to win this game (or any game, unfortunately), I probably should have known better than to doubt Stolarz, who is made completely out of cement blocks, it seems? The rest of this article could just be me saying “Stolarz made a great save” ad nauseam and it would be an effective recap.

The Rangers would take offense early on when Folin took down Brady Skjei with an absolute monster of a hit. It was clean and legal, but the Rangers were still mad about it, because testosterone or something, and they did not hesitate to make this known.

A mess of sweater-grabbing and near-fights would end rather clumsily with a penalty on Boo Nieves for roughing at 3:01. I must admit, I’d completely forgotten about the guy named Boo Nieves, and now I am shaking with mirth. His name is Boo Nieves. My God, that’s his name.

The Flyers went back to the power play, and wow, they didn’t get a shot off here, either. I don’t know what I’m expecting at any point anymore. Are they good? Are they bad? Are they floating somewhere in a limbo between the two? Am I dead, are we all dead?

At 10:02 p.m., I began to think it about how goddamn funny it would be if they actually could pull this win off.

With just under two minutes left in the third, the Rangers pulled their goalie, and my anxiety began to spike. Often, I find myself watching games and thinking, “Well, anything can happen, and that is fine.” This all goes out the window when there are only a handful of seconds left in the third period with a one-goal lead. At that point, it becomes imperative that they win. The most important thing in the world to me is a win. I will do anything to see it. The pressure gets to me, I suppose.

Anyway, Stolarz said no. He’s kind of good at that.

That was hockey, or something close to it.

AFTER THREE: 1-0 Flyers, shots 38-19 Rangers (lol)