Michael DeNicola



On the first day of Christmas my Flyers gave to me....the question "can we play with a damn leeeead???"


If I told you yesterday before the game that our #1 Flyers - 2nd in Goals For - would end the 60-minute tilt without a single goal against the Florida Panthers AND got shut out by Tomas Vokoun you'd probably ask me where I score my weed.

Well I aint smokin' nothin' because that's exactly what happened.


Am I mad? I can't say that I'm mad. Look where we're ranked in the Power Rankings. Look where we sit in the standings. Look at the prior five incredible contests we put out.

All of that has lead to where we are today. Our boys were on a 5-game winning streak and haven't lost in regulation since December 1st (oddly enough, we were also shutout that night too)

So "mad" is not the right adjective. Embarrassed? Absolutely.


There's no question the Florida Panthers are a lesser group of on-ice warriors than the Flyers. In fact, on any given day I'd say the Bullies would wipe their asses with the Cats however in last night's case Florida came out on top and took advantage of every Philadelphia mistake.

I give them their props. I mean, they blanked the Capitals back on the 9th and despite Washington's latest slump....that's still pretty damn difficult to do considering the firepower !


But enough of Florida.

When the Flyers have been shutout this season (Montreal 16-Nov, Boston 1-Dec, and Florida 20-Dec) they've typically out shot their opponent dramatically.

Against Montreal, the orange crew fired 41-shots on Carey Price to their 28-shots. Against Boston, Tim Thomas managed to stop 41 of our frozen biscuits while his offensive support answered with only 32.

Sixteen hours ago? The Flyers were out shot 34-to-26!

Yea, 26-shots. THAT'S IT!

So it's not like Vokoun stood on his head and made saves that would make Jesus Christ blink. Our offense didn't show up. No one showed up. Even the little Russian bullet, Sergei Bobrovsky, had an off-night stopping 18 of 22-shots before he was yanked and Boucher sent in three-quarters of the way through the 2nd period.

Bob's fourth goal allowed came after Sean O'Donnell lost his footing in our corner boards and left a wide open Steve Bernier to recover and dish a pass to a crashing Mike Santorelli for the open net slap shot.

That pass slid by our back-skating defenceman, Oskars Bartulis, making him look foolish and inexperienced.

The only Flyers skaters who ended the night without a negative +/- rating were Kimmo Timonen and Nikolay Zherdev. Both sat at 0 (zero).


You want the silver lining? Brian Boucher stopped 11 of 12-shots and once again gave him a 0.900+ save percentage at 0.917!!!

I know. You just read that stat and said, "Get serious, shithead."


Typically we'd be complaining about our lack of success on the power play, but the Flyers never went on the man advantage until 5-minutes into the 3rd when Dmitry Kulikov was called for a holding penalty.

You don't need to be a Mensa member to know how that turned out.


*  *  *


So let's recap; two teams hit the ice last night. One did very well. The other sucked a length of the Alaskan Pipeline.

Both played extremely opposite of what they've usually displayed in earlier tilts. Florida looked like a solid contender, and Philly seemed to have trouble even putting on their pads.

It was an evening of Jekyll & Hyde for both clubs.

What chaps my ass the most about this loss is that it comes right before the Holiday freeze in our schedule. We're gameless the next 8-days and then we take to the West to play clubs like Vancouver, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Detroit. That's one tough chunk of schedule.

With our points in the standings frozen at 49 for a little over a week, the Penguins have a 2-game opportunity to take back that #1 spot before we even hit the ice again.

But this is hockey. This is why we watch. Why we sweat liquid vulcanized rubber, wear our favorite player's sweater, tune in every game night and read funny statistics everyday in the hockey news.

It's frustrating circumstances like this that keep us wanting that Cup in Philadelphia even more. And when we don't get it one year, we expect it the next.

Was last night's display a horrendous sack of crap that we all had to forcefully shove down our throats? Better bet your ass it was. But it just got more interesting.


And guess what? We're still numero uno.