Michael DeNicola

01/17/10

 

I don't know what I'd be more surprised with; If I woke up one morning and discovered a tail grew out of my ass during the night, or that the Flyers actually played with a lead and for a full 60-minutes instead of sitting on their heels and allowing the flat Rangers to almost make a 3rd period comeback.

 

Going into the second intermission, the Philadelphia Flyers were ontop 3 - 0.

Goals came from Jeff Carter, Ville Leino, and an outstanding short-handed bucket from Flyers captain Mike Richards.

Usually when a team has as much depth as the Flyers have, a 3-goal lead heading into the 3rd period would ensure any fan that this game's virtually in the bag.

But if there's anything the Flyers have taught us this season....it's they've had difficulty keeping their foot on the gas and the knife on the opponent's throat when leading on the scoreboard.

I don't know what it is. All of a sudden they allow the offensive rush to penetrate our zone time and time again keeping constant pressure on our net tender and his crease. It's like our boys collectively fall apart and lose all chances of finishing the game strong.

This sort of thing hasn't happened every game with every lead, but it's happened often enough to keep me on my toes with any leading margin smaller than 5-goals! It's like I don't ever feel comfortable through a minute of the game. I'm always wondering if or when the team's going to lose its discipline and handle on the game strategy.

Could the momentum have changed when Sean Avery decided to represent his scumbag reputation by pummelling a defenseless, turtling Matt Carle halfway through the 2nd? Maybe. But I choose to believe that these players of ours have no problem swallowing a few thrown fists and not permit them to discontinue any forward progression!

"We came here for two points. I'm sure Matt [Carle] would take a couple of punches to get an important win," said Mike Richards.

Perhaps Matt Carle didn't mind being Avery's personal throw rug, but Flyers fans sure as hell mind when their team's about to blow a 3 - 0 lead, all within 11:00 left in the game!

 

However, the fact is we came out of last night with a win. And a win is a win is a win. We're a point behind the Vancouver Canucks in the league standings. We're #1 in the conference still and rolling on a 7 - 3 performance in our last 10 matches.

Up until Rangers forward, Wojtek Wolski, slipped an absolutely embarrassing puck past Boucher early in the 3rd to get the Rangers on the board 3 - 1, Brian was playing fantastic in net for the Flyers. Though I could have settled for less rebounds he gave up, Boosh still kept a timid home crowd in silence with every New York shot he denied.

I had to watch through my fingers and palms after rookie forward Derek Stepan took a pass deep in our slot and sent it streaming in net like a lightning bolt, slimming our advantage to 1-goal.

With a little over 8-minutes remaining in the game and at the rate we were letting the momentum turn belly up like a mobster in the Hudson, I was feeling anything but confident in this team.

Clutching to a couch cushion and chewing the nails off my finger like a beaver on an oak log, I watched Boucher battle to keep that 'W' a sure thing. And that he did.

He wound up with a 0.944 SV%, stopping 34 of 36 Ranger attempts. Those numbers are astounding considering the hellfire and brimstone he faced throughout the 3rd period.

Granted that first goal he let by was a fluke and should have been part of 35-saves, Boucher won that whole game with his performance between the pipes in the final period. Like I said before, our boys sat on their heels and allowed some pretty weak chances to stir up in our zone.

 

*  *  *

 

This morning I was discussing the Flyers with a coworker. I mentioned how I feel about this team not playing a full 60-minutes and allowing comebacks like this much too often for comfort.

But then I went ahead and looked at it from THIS angle; with a hockey Hall of Famer like Chris Pronger sitting out with an injury, we still manage to win games and look great doing so. Losing Pronger would prove detrimental to any other squad but this Flyers roster is so deep that we can afford to make sure he rests and gets 100% healthy.

And even though we have issues playing with the lead, inconsistent Power Plays, etc etc etc....the seat at the top of the Eastern Conference standings remains to be painted orange and black. That's sayin' something.

 

Tune in tomorrow on CSN at 7:00pm. The Washington Capitals make their way north to Philadelphia and try to dig themselves out of this pathetic 2010-11 season of theirs.

 

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