Good to see the Flyers aren’t dwelling on that beating.
Utilizing a couple of slightly revamped lines, the Philadelphia Flyers kept the visiting Montreal Canadiens in check through out the course of 60 minutes, and held on to win 2-1. The game wasn’t without some chippiness, as the Canadiens somehow forgot the fundamentals of checking without keeping their elbows down, and it cost them one player, forward Alexei Emelin, for half of the game after a vicious elbow to Steve Downie’s head that sent him to the trainers momentarily. This action might cost Emelin more than those 30 minutes however, as the play will be sent to the NHL offices for disciplinary review.
Head Coach Craig Berube’s best play was shifting Scott Hartnell off the first line, and inserting rookie Michael Raffl. Raffl would go on to give the Flyers a first period lead on a slick goal that was generated by solid passing from new linemates Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek. Berube did keep his third line intact thankfully, but while the woes on the first line seemed to vanish if only for a game, the second line is now a jumble with three players who possess similar styles, and it doesn’t involve creating plays. In a way this new second line could backfire, as it has the feel of an ultra talented checking line, and lacks the solid shooter required to generate second chance goals that Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and Scott Hartnell make a living scoring from.
The Flyers still controlling the Habs, added to their lead with another smooth goal from Giroux, the recipient of a great forward pass from Voracek who caught Claude as he was streaking down the ice. Giroux closed in on Canadiens All Star caliber goalie Carey Price and whipped a nasty wrister to put the Flyers up 2-0. From that point on, the Flyers never really looked back, and the Canadiens did them a favor by playing out of sorts the rest of the way.
The third period featured a little fireworks when Montreal Captain Brian Gionta attempted to shovel in a goal with his glove, and brought about a brief dispute. Fortunately a referee was there to see it happen from about five feet away, and Steve Mason’s shutout remained intact. He was close to pulling it off as well until promising young star Alex Galchenyuk snuck one by Mason with less than a minute in the game. The Flyers had an opportunity to grab an empty netter but missed a couple of decent chances, and it didn’t seem to matter anyway since the Canadiens couldn’t get their 6 man advantage really going.
For such a low scoring affair, the Canadiens treated things as if they were getting blown out, and Gionta really upped the stakes by playing Mason very hard with seconds left on the clock. With the puck nowhere near him, he took it upon himself to body up Mason, and then stick tie him repeatedly. This raised the ire of Mason who shoved Gionta, and then crosschecked him onto the ice. This prompted Habs player Brendan Gallagher to pounce on top of Mason and begin to try and assault him. Matt Read in turn skated over quickly, dropped his gloves and began to scrap with Gallagher behind the net. Thankfully cooler heads prevailed despite players from both clubs swarming and buzzing about on the ice, chirping in each other’s direction.
There was a bit of an olive branch in the beginning, when the Flyers rolled out a nice video tribute to former Flyer and current Canadien Danny Briere. He received multiple ovations from the crowd and each teams benches, and it was well deserved. Briere was a quality player for a good while with Philadelphia and his biggest influence was on the Flyers young players, most of all Flyers Captain Giroux. It was nice to see him respected in his first return home, and he even said before the game he still calls Philadelphia his home, and will do so even after he is done skating. A class reception for a class act.
The Flyers will now get a much much needed two day rest, and then its a back to backer with the Washington Capitals, who will now have the hot hands of Alexander Ovechkin in the lineup this time around.
*Photo courtesy of NHL.com