Tyler J. Altemose
The Flyers came into St. Louis last night hoping to spoil yet another home opener and start off their season 2-0-0.
They were lucky to have stolen a point.
For the first two (and arguably the third) periods, the Flyers were beat up and down the ice by a young Blues squad. The Blues, the youngest team in the NHL, proved last night that it doesn’t matter what teams look like on paper. If you’re not going to give it your all on the ice you’re going to lose.
The Flyers lineup remained the same as it was for the game against the Penguins with Pronger, Walker, and Nodl being the healthy scratches. The lines remained the same, save Boosh getting the start:
Carcillo / Carter / Richards
Hartnell / Briere / Leino
JVR / Giroux / Zherdev
Powe / Betts / Shelley
Coburn / Timonen
Meszaros / Carle
O’Donnell / Bartulis
The first period saw a lot of back and forth action, but one thing that stood out to me was the abundance of odd man rushes in favor of the Blues. If not for the Blues overplaying the puck in the offensive zone the score may have been much different. The Flyers battled transition issues seemingly the entire period. That was an issue I saw last season and was hoping would be worked on. Well, if it is it sure didn’t show last night.
Matt Carle was a standout on defense, stopping one particular defensive breakdown and giving Boosh some much-needed relief. The defense as a whole wasn’t particularly bad this period, but again that may have been relieved by the Blues overplaying the puck in the offensive zone.
The fourth line seemed most impressive to me, bringing the forecheck, playing gritty hockey in the offensive zone, and matching the energy level of the Blues.
The Flyers had two golden opportunities presented to them in the first; a 4-on-3 which then turned into a 5-on-3. The Flyers took their time on the PP setting up and executing their plays. In their first game against the Penguins you could clearly tell that they seemed rushed. However, when they didn’t take advantage of those opportunities they clearly got frustrated. This led to a Giroux crosscheck and Coburn tripping penalty, and an opportunity for the Blues which they didn’t fail to take advantage of.
Brad Boyes scored on the PP for the Blues at the 15:48 mark, giving the Blues the 1-0 lead at the end of the first.
The second period was even worse for the Flyers. It was sloppy. The Flyers were weak in the defensive zone. They seemed tired and struggled to clear the puck. And when they did clear the zone, the Blues were able to beat the Flyers to the puck.
Three Flyers that stood out to me this period were Matt Carle (again), Oscars Bartulis (let me explain), and, most impressively, Braydon Coburn.
Carle kept up his impressive first period performance. He was the only Flyer who seemed to match the energy of the Blues throughout the entire game. Coburn was most impressive, however. He was strong on the transition and was using his size throughout the period to stop opponents. If you recall from the first game against the Penguins, Coburn used his size against the much-hated Sidney Crosby and essentially clotheslined him to the ice during one particular incident, much to the joy of Flyers Nation. It seems as if Coburn is getting back into form. His greatest asset to this defensive corps is his size. If he can keep this up he is going to have a great season.
Oscars Bartulis stood out to me during one particular incident. At the 15:56 mark, Brad Winchester and Cam Janssen charged Barts in the Flyers defensive zone. Instead of getting sandwiched (and likely injured), Bartlis simply moved Janssen into Winchester’s line of fire. Janssen took the hit by his own player and left the ice injured. He was still given a charging penalty which was served by teammate Matt D’Agostini.
Winchester and Hartnell then got into a fight. After the melee ceased, Harts was charged with 19 PIM. They are as follows: unsportsmanlike conduct (2), instigating (2), fighting (5), and a game misconduct (10).
There was no scoring in the second period, and the Blues entered the final twenty with a 1-0 lead.
If the Flyers picked up their game at all it was in the third period. Two minutes into the period there was a scrum in front of St. Louis netminder Jaroslav Halak. Danny Briere cleaned up the mess by netting his second goal in two games and tying this one at 1-1. Carle and Leino were credited with an assist.
Harts began the third period in the penalty box. This loss turned out to be JVR’s gain. He was utilized on both the first and second lines. He held his own quite impressively. With a team which seems to have some chemistry issues on offense already this season, we could see JVR get some playing time with either Richie or Briere.
Later in the period during a scramble around the Blues goal, Blues defensemen Erik Johnson shoved Briere into the Blues goal, knocking it off its moorings. The problem wasn’t necessarily that this happened but that it happened off the play―the puck had already been cleared into the neutral zone. No penalty was called as the refs weren’t watching. Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette seemed visibly upset behind the bench, giving the refs a piece of his mind. Let me just say that it’s nice having a coach behind the bench who shows emotion other than a little fist pump after winning Game 7 in OT against the Capitals.
If anyone stood out in this period it was Boosh. He put forth a great effort keeping the Flyers in this game. Considering how this team scores for him like the Phillies score for Cole Hamels, Boosh should really be the one credited with the fact that this team stole a point from the Blues.
It seems as if a large majority of the fans in Philadelphia came into this season doubting Boosh, and once again he answered the call by putting up a strong performance. Boosh has carried this team for a month before. He can do it again. But if he’s going to do it this team needs to play a lot better in front of him.
The third period ended in a 1-1 tie. Unfortunately for the Flyers, Carlo Colaiacovo scored about two minutes into overtime, giving the Blues the 2-1 OT win.
The Flyers head back to Philadelphia with a 1-0-1 record and 3 points.
Looking back at the stat sheet it is evident that our old nemesis is back again: penalties. The Flyers were given 41 PIM to St. Louis’s 23, giving the Blues 18 minutes of ice time with an extra man. For a team already playing sloppy hockey, that is a recipe for disaster. Here’s a breakdown of our penalty situation from last night:
Timonen – Holding (2)
Coburn – Hooking (2), Tripping (2)
Giroux – Crosschecking (2), Tripping (2)
O’Donnell – Tripping (2)
Bartulis – Delay of game (2)
Hartnell – Unsportsmanlike conduct (2), Instigating (2), Fighting (5), Game misconduct (10), Shashing (2)
Zherdev – Tripping (2)
Briere – Roughing (2)
Leino – Holding (2)
There is no excuse for this. Chris Pronger being out is not an excuse for this. Playing a team that is younger and more energetic than you is not an excuse for this. Refereeing is not an excuse for this.Nothing―and I mean nothing―can excuse this kind of performance. Furthermore, the Flyers were out hit 29-22 and were beat on the FO 22-13. When you commit this many penalties and fail to control the puck off of the FO you’re going to lose. It’s as simple as that. And that’s frankly all I have to say on that matter.
For each game either myself, Mike, or both of us will be choosing three Flyers “Stars of the Game.” Here are my picks from last night:
1. Matt Carle
2. Brian Boucher
3. Danny Briere
What’s your take?
That’s all for now Flyers faithful. Until next time…GO FLYERS!