Michael DeNicola

12/20/10

 

Ol' Saint Nick keeps blessing Philadelphia's Holiday wishes with each passing contest.

Since the Flyers victory over the Penguins last Tuesday, they've taken on and defeated the Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers. The fortunate thing is the final buzzer sounded twice and twice the boys in Orange lifted their sticks and tapped hats with Sergei Bobrovsky and Brian Boucher in winning fashion.

The unfortunate news is we lost future hall of famer Chris Pronger for 4 - 6 weeks due to a broken bone in his foot he suffered from blocking a slap shot in Wednesday's pay dirt versus the Habs.

But our dear fallen soldier didn't slow us down one mile an hour. Although the lamps stayed unlit throughout the 1st period, Philadelphia came storming out onto the ice in the 2nd and 3rd in front of a hometown crowd and sent the Rangers home Saturday with their tails between their legs, losing 4 - 1.

 

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Let's talk chemistry;

Since the dawn of this season, Flyers players such as Nikolay Zherdev and James van Riemsdyk and their lack luster on-ice performances have been blanketed by heavy scrutiny. It hasn't been until recently that Zherdev's really stepped out of his skin and played well. JVR took some time to grab the warmth of the lime light, but he also has been turning opinions upside down as of late.

Together they are centered by newly resigned Jeff Carter and that line has paid dividends.

In the match against Montreal alone, that line scored 4-goals and left the ice with 7 collected points. Pucks buried by each linemate, and two from JVR.

N. Zherdev

J. Carter

JVR (Goal 1, Goal 2)

 

You think they stopped there?

Saturday when they took the ice against the original six dressed in blue, the same line capped the 'W' with 2-goals and 3-points.

What we have here is......favor....to communicate.

 

I actually attended the game on Saturday. I had tickets in the nose bleeds and was accompanied by three Ranger buddies of mine.

Given Philadelphia's history of less than warm welcomes towards our rival fans and the literal atmosphere of our seats, I thought I was going to have to fend off Philly boos and thrown beer at my friends.

To my surprise I was surrounded by the exact opposite. Blue and white sweaters EVERYWHERE. Behind me, in front of me, to the sides of me....I even checked the rafters above me to make sure I didn't have one of these bastards hanging from a catwalk.

Is it true? Am I in enemy territory in my own barn?

Looks to be.

But it never stopped me from taunting and gloating with each passing rubber Henrik Lundqvist allowed. Of course I wasn't being an unbelievable prick about it. I shared laughs and a few high fives with rival fans in my proximity.

So when I say taunting and gloating, I mean them with the best definition of good, old fashioned sportsmanship as possible.

In hindsight, though, perhaps standing up after Ville Leino potted the third Flyer goal and dancing back and forth in my aisle like Leslie Nielson from the first Naked Gun film wasn't exactly what falls under "sportsmanship"...?

Regardless, it was quite glorious walking out of that building and witnessing a few hundred New Yorkers exit mumbling curses under their breath like Joe Pesci from the Home Alone movies.

 

*  *  *

 

We've got the depth in our forward lines, the rest of our defencemen have stepped up to fill the abyssal void Pronger's injury has left in its wake, and Boucher and Bobrovsky have proven to be a more than reliable tender tandem (although that's looking to become the next big drama)

We're still sitting pretty with at the #1 position in the Eastern Conference and the entire league. We're 7-points ahead of the Caps, 9 in front of Montreal, and 5 ahead of Pittsburgh.

Granted, those are pretty sizable margins and certainly enough to make us all exhale with relief, but now's not the time to get comfortable.

When you've got the bull by the horns it's the perfect time to break its neck. The Flyers have a chance to take such an unbelievable lead in the standings, but the question surfaces;

Does this team know how to play with a lead?

They without question proved they could rise and comeback with last season's roller coaster ride. But we're in unmarked territory here, relatively speaking.

And according to Tyler's brilliant number crunching and knack for detail, the Flyers are on pace to tie a franchise record for points in a season.
So yea, this chain of events isn't usually carrying an orange and black flame.

 

Philadelphia looks to continue the winning streak to 6-games this evening when they welcome the Florida Panthers to town at 7:00pm.

Good night. Good hockey.