At first, I wasn’t so sure how the game was going to go. As I sat in the Wells Fargo Center listening to the scratches for Detroit, I was wondering “Who the hell am I about to watch the Flyers play?” Then the announcement of Meszaros being a healthy scratch again drove me nuts. Downie was the only change. Even as the game started I noticed that Berube had the same defensive lines and I thought again, “Did he not learn from the blowout loss against Boston?”
Well, sometimes writers and fans think they make the best coaches and last night proved to be why we’re not. Berube who kept the faith in his troops and his lines, sent out virtually the same players from the Boston game, but you certainly wouldn’t recognize it. During the first five minutes it had seemed like it was the same Flyers with most of the play in their own zone and a few quick defensive turnovers. But that all quickly changed and the Flyers began their best complete game effort of the season scoring a goal on the power play.
Hartnell opened up the night with a powerplay goal, a deflection from a Kimmo Timonen shot. He would score his second goal in the 2nd period on a nice pass from Claude Giroux. It appeared the Detroit defense was fooled by the play and covered Jakub Voracek. Instead, Hartnell was the intended recipient and he rifled a wrist shot for his 14th of the season.
For a brief moment there was a chance to see a natural hattrick and Hartnell’s first trick since January of 2012. Instead, the natural hattrick idea was killed when Adam Hall scored a nice backhander. Suddenly the Flyers looked like a playoff team again. They were scoring goals, creating chances, their defense was playing solid and for the first time since signing a contract extension, goalie Steve Mason was playing “lights out.”
If not for the Flyers offense taking the spotlight, Mason’s play was highlight for sure. He had several quality saves. During the 2nd period, Mason made an incredible save and fell backwards leaving the net wide open. Detroit’s Kyle Quincey took the rebounded puck and shot it at the empty. Mason’s quick reflexes saw him lift his stick and he got a piece of it, deflecting it into the safety netting. Quicney was so sure he has a goal he actually lifted his arms and began to celebrate. The Wells Fargo Center erupted at the not only the play of Mason, but the effort that the Flyers were putting out.
The Flyers came out and played a very solid 3rd period adding a goal, playing well defensively and Mason standing on his head to preserve his second shutout of the season.
As for Hartnell, he finished with 2 goals and 1 assist for a 3 point night. Hartnell now has 21 points in his last 21 games. Raffl who had been struggling had an assist, Giroux finished with 3 points and the defense played like a real defensive. The only black cloud would be the fact that Timonen blocked a shot and left the game. GM Paul Holmgren stated that Timonen would be re-evaluated Monday and Head Coach Craig Berube stated that he was fine with nothing to worry about. Hmm, sounds a little fishy.
Never-the-less the Flyers next will visit the NHL’s best team and that would be the Anaheim Ducks. (I still call them the Mighty Ducks.) That will be the true test of what the Flyers are. The Flyers have only 8 wins against playoff teams this season. (Yikes) The Ducks were my pick in the beginning of the year to win the Cup. (Against the Sens, I don’t think that opponent is happening.) If the Flyers can play a good solid game against the Ducks like they did against the Redwings, then perhaps the Flyers aren’t far off. Even if the Flyers lose, a good solid game against the Ducks would be a positive sign. I still think the Flyers need a #1 defenseman.
Speaking of a #1 defenseman, rumors have it that Nashville may be listening to offers for Shea Weber. Weber, who is on a 68 million dollar contract (Thanks to Homer) is as initially thought, a financial disaster for the franchise. The Preds have loaded up on defenseman and have a good future #1 in the making with Seth Jones. Weber could be made available at the draft, of course for a steep price. This idea isn’t too farfetched. Who would you give up for Weber? I don’t think the Flyers are going to make a good deal by the deadline. The Flyers don’t need a rental defenseman, they need something long term.
The final few games before the Olympic break are crucial. The Metropolitan Division is jammed packed with points as well as the rest of the crowded Eastern Conference. Hopefully the Flyers can ride this win all the way into California and get the Duck’s 2nd home loss all year. Here is to hoping! Let’s go Flyers!
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