Brayden Schenn was on fire last night, racking up a goal and two assists, and had another goal waved off.
Pretty big numbers, and what most have come to expect from the kid once declared “the best player not in the NHL” when he arrived in Philadelphia a couple of seasons ago. Schenn has been having a decent season, and now has 24 points in 40 games. Setting the bar for above average players in today’s NHL, 60-70 points is pretty good, and Schenn is definitely on track for this. It would appear that the 2nd line which features Brayden, Scott Hartnell, and Wayne Simmonds is paying off serious dividends with three net crashers playing off of each other making life difficult for opposing defenses.
Enough gushing about Schenn’s NHL level improvements, we’ve got a game to discuss.
It’s no secret that since Jay Feaster was unceremoniously sent packing, the Flames sough to repair the damage he had wrought upon the franchise. One of Feaster’s biggest mistakes was virtually handing away former team captain and heart and soul of the Calgary franchise, Jarome Iginla, for basically peanuts and some used equipment. At least that’s how it must have felt to the Calgary fanbase, making Feaster’s departure all but assured.
In comes Brian Burke.
Originally coming in as an “advisor” or sorts, which is a nice way of saying “the man waiting to take your job”, Burke’s first priorities were to increase the size on the roster. Burke has never met a big man he doesn’t like, feeling that it is easier to negate speed than it is to work around slabs of beef at the net.
Last night’s game displayed two teams in different directions. One team trying to mesh the players it feels possess playoff potential, the other finding pieces to get back above .500, and it showed.
The first man up was Mark Streit. A high priced defender and considered a catch as the best puck moving defenseman in the offseason, Streit has struggled to find his identity on this roster, but the last few games have been a different story. He made a deft move to draw the shot blocker to his knees and out of position after receiving a pass at the point from Schenn to move in and work a smooth wrist shot high glove side past Flames goalie Reto Berra in the first, and that’s how the score would stay through the first period. These are the kind of moves Flyers fans are expecting of Streit, and it’s been happening more frequently, a great sign that helps to justify that hefty contract number a little more than it originally did.
In the second period the Flyers almost pushed the lead to 2-0, but the referee waived off Brayden Schenn’s first goal attempt after they determined that Hartnell, who created the scoring chance bumped Berra, putting him out of position and unable to try for a save on the shot. The entire sequence made no sense, seeing as an interference call normally accompanies the no goal, and to be honest, it really looked like Berra overplayed Hartnell’s shot attempt in the crease, placing himself out of position with practically no contact from Hartnell save a quick rebound attempt stick tap.
The game would proceed with the 1-0 lead until Flames youngster Sean Monahan tied things up for the Flames. As Philly is accustomed to these days, the Flyers responded a few minutes later when Schenn’s second attempt at landing a goal counted, and once again proved this club has turned a corner, refusing to deflate when surrendering a goal.
The third period featured a bit of back and forth with neither club until that second line tallied another goal, this time it was Hartnell slipping one past Berra after a sweet feed from Schenn to put the Flyers up 3-1, and at that point they never looked back. The Flames had an opportunity to try and get back into it, but it was too little, too late, and with Bob Hartley pulling Berra in place of a sixth man on a Flames power play, Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn flipped the puck the length of the ice and into the net for the 4-1 lead, and that’s how things would stay for the rest of the game.
This win now marks the Flyers third win in as many games on the road, and they are having much better success on this six game trip than they did the last one. They will play the Colorado Avalanche next on Thursday, and with the Avalanche having injury issues and unable to match the Flyers depth at wing, this may equate into yet another road win.
*Photo courtesy of NHL.com