The Philadelphia Flyers finally got the monkey off their back.
After losing 3 straight games to start the season, the Flyers became a desperate hockey team. Playing without their leading goal scorer from last season, Scott Hartnell (foot), assistant captain Danny Briere (wrist), and second-year center Brayden Schenn (suspension), the Flyers still dominated from start to finish Thursday night.
The win came against the New York Rangers, a team that has owned Philadelphia for the past 2 years, beating them in 8 straight. Instead of being brought down by that history, a 3-game losing streak, or the loss of 3 star players, the Flyers stepped up and took down their biggest nemesis of the last two years.
The 2-1 victory ultimately restored their season, and the Flyers will look to use that newfound momentum this week.
How it all started
- After the lockout finally came to a solution, the Flyers opened their shortened, 48-game season Jan. 19 against their cross-state rival Pittsburgh Penguins. After allowing 2 goals in Period 1, the Flyers played comeback for the rest of the game; however, the Penguins hung on to win the season opener 3-1.
- Less than 24 hours later, the Flyers were in Buffalo to take on the Sabres. Playing its first game of the season, Buffalo was fresh, while the Flyers appeared sluggish towards the end. The game was tied at 2 with 6 minutes left in the 3rd period, but then the Flyers got into penalty trouble and Buffalo made them pay, taking the game by a final score of 5-2.
- After regrouping following the back to back losses, the Flyers shuffled their lines in hopes to spark something against the Eastern Conference Champion New Jersey Devils. Unfortunately the Devils had other plans. Martin Brodeur was at his best again, as he helped New Jersey shutout the Flyers 3-0.
- Philadelphia entered Thursday night's game 0-3. It was only the third time in franchise history that the Flyers started the season with 3 straight losses, and first time since 1994 (also a shortened season). The Flyers have never dropped 4 straight to start any season, and by the end of the night, that stat would remain intact.
Philadelphia dominated the New York Rangers all night; however, the victory still didn't come easily. While the Flyers were hanging on to a 1-goal lead in the 3rd period, the Rangers were given a full, 2-minute, 2-man advantage in the middle of a 4-minute double minor. But instead of caving, Ilya Bryzgalov and the Flyers stood tall and preserved the lead. The Flyers notched their first victory of the season 2-1 over the Rangers.
Week 1 Record: 1-3
- The obvious 1-3 record. The Flyers didn't start the season the way they wanted; however, getting their first victory under their belt will help.
- The defense has appeared sluggish at times and just completely out of position other times. They have 3 new defenseman (Luke Schenn, Kurtis Foster, and Bruno Gervais), and most times it takes a few games to iron out the kinks and gain some chemistry while understanding the system. That's usually what preseason is for. But because of the lockout, there weren't any preseason games, leading to some confusion on the back end.
- Special Teams play has been a big issue for the Flyers in their first week of the season. They have allowed a Power Play goal in each of their first 4 games and have allowed 7 goals on 20 attempts. Meanwhile their own Power Play hasn't been very powerful. They are currently 2 for 18 on the season.
- Injuries have hampered the team and continue to pile up. The Flyers have already been without Danny Briere for the first 4 games and now they will be without thir leading scorer from last season, Scott Hartnell (foot) and Top 4 defenseman Andrej Meszaros (shoulder) for an extended period of time. (See Injury Report Below for more...)
- Despite the 1-3 record, Ilya Bryzgalov has played fairly well. Bryzgalov has allowed 10 goals in 4 games; however, 6 of them were Power Play goals, 1 was a penalty shot, and 2 others were complete defensive breakdowns. Bryzgalov shone versus the Rangers Thursday night and kept them alive during the 2-man advantage.
- Defeating the Rangers is a huge confidence-booster. Beating the team that has owned the Flyers for 2 years will definitely help their confidence moving forward.
- The full 2-minute, 2-man advantage penalty kill versus the Rangers didn't only give them confidence to finish that game, but it will give them something to build on in the upcoming games. And going back to Tuesday night's game versus the Devils, the Flyers have killed 9 of their last 10 penalties.
- Goal Shortage. Yes this should probably be in the negatives, but let me explain. The Flyers have only scored 5 goals in 4 games. The good news is that in all 4 games the Flyers faced not only all-star but all-world goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury, Ryan Miller, Martin Brodeur, and Henrik Lundqvist. It's not hard to imagine why the Flyers struggled to put the puck in back of the net.
- The Flyers' schedule does get a little easier. 6 of the next 10 games are against teams that missed the playoffs last season. And those teams have only combined for 17 wins in 40 games.
- The Flyers will get clutch scorer Danny Briere back at some point this week; Tuesday at the latest. (see Injury Report Below).
- Scott Hartnell had successful surgery today to repair a broken first metatarsal in his left foot (the bone that connects the foot to the big toe). He sustained the fracture when a Kimmo Timonen shot went off his foot in the Devils game. Hartnell's recovery is expected to take 4-6 weeks.
- Danny Briere (wrist) took some more tests on Thursday and is improving day by day. GM Paul Holmgren said Briere is 50/50 for the weekend, but is more realistically looking for a Tuesday return.
- Andrej Meszaros injured his shoulder Thursday night when he was checked awkwardly in the 2nd period versus the Rangers. Meszaros left the game and was seen wearing a shoulder harness afterwards. On Friday afternoon, Holmgren announced that Meszaros will miss at least 4 weeks.
- Zac Rinaldo suffered a deep skate blade cut during Sunday's game. The laceration took 20 stitches to patch up. Rinaldo will be out at least a week.
- Thursday night, the Philadelphia Flyers signed forward Mike Knuble, 40. Knuble had played 4 seasons with the Flyers from 2005-2009, scoring 114 goals and 221 points in 310 games. He will bring some much needed veteran leadership to a very young team.
- The Flyers have recalled defenseman Andreas Lilja to be their 7th defenseman due to Andrej Meszaros' injury. Bruno Gervais and Kurtis Foster will play as the 5th and 6th defensemen.
- The Flyers also recalled forward Tye McGinn earlier in the week due to all the injures. In 2 games, McGinn, 6'2" 207, has averaged 11:42 minutes, registered 2 shots and a fight (in which he won unanimously).
Saturday, Jan. 26 @ Florida Panthers (1-3) @ 7:30 p.m.
After winning their first game of the season, the Florida Panthers have lost 3 in a row. Last year the Panthers won their division, led by Tomas Fleischmann (27 goals, 61 points) and ex-Flyer Kris Versteeg (23 goals, 54 points). New additions Alex Kovalev and rookie Jonathan Huberdeau will also bring more depth to their lineup.
Sunday, Jan. 27 @ Tampa Bay Lightning (2-1) @ 6 p.m.
Tampa Bay has won 3 of its first 4 games, led by superstar Steven Stamkos and veterans Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier. The Lightning have scored an incredible 19 goals in their first 4 games, and lead the Eastern Conference in Goals For. Stamkos, St. Louis and Lecavalier have combined for 20 points in 4 games, while the entire Flyers roster has combined for 15 total points in 4 games.
Tuesday, Jan. 29 @ New York Rangers (1-3) @ 7 p.m.
The Flyers and Rangers will play against each other in the second of 5 meetings this season. Both teams are currently 1-3, as the Flyers gained their first victory against New York, 2-1 on Thursday night. The first rematch will take place in New York. After two games against each other in less than a week, the clubs won't see each other again until March 5.
Friday, Feb. 1 @ Washington Capitals (0-3) @ 7 p.m.
The Flyers will end their 4-game road trip in Washington, who has also struggled to start the season. Winless in their first 4 games, the Capitals have given up 17 goals, while only scoring 8. Superstar Alex Ovechkin has been shut down so far this season, only registering 1 assist in 4 games.
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