Last night's match up began sloppier than a Three Stooges' pie fight. If you're anything like me, the slim win left you feeling even worse.
Allow me to explain.
It's no news the Flyers have reached their injury bugged, poor performance slump. But unlike other squads in their slumps....we still manage to come out on top here and there.
Although we remain the top contending beast of the east, this heartless stride of cruise control has forced me to question just how deep this team's going to go in the playoffs.
I am perfectly aware of how capable they are. Hell, if this roster exploded on all cylinders every 60-minutes we'd be well and gone over 100 points in the standings. But that's just not how sports work. Teams breakdown. You go into skids. Ya get sick or injured. It happens.
When the puck dropped in the beginning of the 1st at the BankAtlantic Center, the next three or so minutes had me shaking me head in disgust as if I was witnessing a hanging.
Our boys couldn't clear a puck from the zone to save their lives. Boucher's head spun back and forth like he was watching a tennis match. Our defense was more out of place than Gene Shalit in a swimsuit competition (try and get that image out of your head now).
Yet Mike Richards and Scott Hartnell still managed to net the game's first puck less than 5-minutes into the 1st period. Richie gathered the rubber adjacent to the net while Scotty stormed the crease. Florida's goalie, Thomas Vokoun, was tummy sliding on the ice which left the twine virtually open. Richards then snuck a pass through lower Floridian defense and from one knee Hartnell sent it back net.
That's when a ball of crap hit the fan.
Moments later, Stephen Weiss dug in to our zone with some pretty nifty dekes, and wristed his goal higher than mommy keeps the lighter fluid. minutes prior to the first intermission, Dmitry Kulikov slapped the puck from the mid-point harder than I'd like to kick Justin Bieber in the face and lit Florida's lamp a second time putting them up 2 - 1. A goal, mind you, that came off a Flyers failure to clear the zone. Not exactly the performance Flyers fans were looking for after such a miserable outcome with the Thrashers three days earlier.
Nevertheless, our very own Dan Carcillo dropped the gloves with Florida Panther, Mike Duco, in the third minute of the 2nd period. Something needed to be done to begin a rally 'cause (as you can see from the latest posted photo) fans would rather read Where The Red Fern Grows than watch a hockey game.
It was a good tilt. As the color analysts said, Duco's a tough match up. But so are the swinging fists of Daniel Carcillo.
Moments into the fight, Duco got a snuck punch which made him lose his helmet. From there he became vulnerable and tried his best to gain some sort of angle on Silly.
Carcillo immediately took advantage which brought Duco to his knees and left Danny with no choice but to surrender a final blow to Duco's head in honor of the unwritten hockey-fight code.
Minutes later Jeff Carter answered Carcillo's call.
As the Panthers were trying to clear their zone of the puck, it somehow got stuck in the slot. Luckily for us, Carter's placement allowed him to quickly turn and fire a game tying shot past Vokoun, assited by Claude Giroux.
With three minutes remaining in the 2nd, Jeff Carter came answering again. this time it was a 2-on-1 breakaway partnered with Daniel Briere.
Ol' Danny Boy gained control of the play at center ice and raced down the boards. Carter tagged along and between the two there was nothing Steve Bernier could do. Jeff took Briere's pass off the back of his stick blade and buried it in net.
Carter's second of the night wound up being the game winning goal, and ultimately branded him First Star status of the tilt.
The 3rd period came and went scoreless, but not without a fight from both sides. It was a physical 20-minutes that could have been played better by the Orange & Black. Naturally they skated on the backs of their blades and, once again, my fingers became a victim of perpetual nail biting.
You could say, "Sure. They won. A win's a win and we got the two points". But like the Flyers page states, this was a Florida roster built from 10 AHL'ers. How in the hell is a #1 team in the standings supposed to swallow a difficult win like that?
Again, I realize every team has its hellish streak in the schedule, but this is ridiculous. If the Flyers cannot cut the heads off and bury an opponent like the Panthers once they've gotten the lead then you can't help but question what this team's really going to do in the post season.