Photo by Amy Irvin/38 Photography
As time wound down in the second period at TD Garden tonight, the Flyers seemed destined for another difficult and frustrating loss. A top 6 forward was out of the lineup. The resulting 5 minute power play had resulted in 0 shots on goal and a goal against, and they were trailing the Boston Bruins by 2 goals. 23 minutes of hockey later, the Flyers were celebrating their most important win of the young season. Persistence paid off from the team’s most important offensive players, as the captain quickly went from goat to hero late in the game.
The Flyers most definitely got the better of the opening period, controlling play and ultimately cashing in on a Pierre-Edouard Bellemare goal midway through the stanza. The Bruins quickly answered back after Brett Connolly capitalized on a rough defensive zone turnover by Claude Giroux. The Flyers grabbed the lead right back on snipe by Sam Gagner, but it would be short lived once again. After a Giroux double minor penalty, new father Patrice Bergeron notched a fluky power play goal to even things up with a couple minutes left in the period.
The biggest story of the first period, however, came as time wound down before intermission. After Sean Couturier had played a puck along the boards, former Flyer and eternal scumbag Zac Rinaldo charged and launched himself into Couturier. The Flyers second line center would not return to the game. Rinaldo would not return either, as he was dealt a 5 minute major and a game misconduct on the play.
The Flyers answered the hit with one of the most pitiful power play efforts you’ll ever see from this unit. During 5 minutes of power play time, the Flyers had difficulty establishing possession, registered zero shots on goal, and conceded a goal roughly 3 minutes in. When Jimmy Hayes put the Bruins up by two minutes later on a soft goal given up by Steve Mason, you started to get the feeling that this game was basically over.
Philadelphia had other ideas. Claude Giroux got the comeback effort started after a nice effort by Jakub Voracek to dig a puck free behind the net. Wayne Simmonds knotted things at two with a beautifully placed shot in the top corner. The Flyers sustained most of the pressure as the period ended, carrying all the momentum into overtime.
Roughly two minutes into the extra period, Michael Del Zotto drew a hooking penalty and gave the Flyers a 4 on 3 advantage. A Mark Streit cross-ice pass landed on the stick of Claude Giroux, who delivered a nasty one timer into the net behind Rask. A seemingly hopeless game turned into the biggest win of the season thus far, as the Flyers emerged victorious in Boston. Let’s take a look at some more observations from a game that was both incredibly frustrating and incredibly fun.
- -Let’s just get this one over with right away: Zac Rinaldo does not belong in this sports league. We knew it while he was here and it still holds true with him in Boston. Rinaldo delivered a needless and dangerous hit to Sean Couturier, knocking him out of the game. The guy has been given chance after chance to be a viable NHL player. Every time, he has done more than enough to prove that he isn’t. Rinaldo could easily be suspended for this hit. When he comes back, the Bruins need to ask themselves why they are continuing to ice a player who has proven time and time again to be a useless liability while he is on the ice.
- -It was nice to see the 4th line get on the board in the first period. For a line that seemed like an above average fourth line, they’ve been struggling pretty heavily at even strength so far this season. I don’t expect a ton of goals, but it was nice to see them not getting routinely pinned in their own zone tonight.
- -Man alive was that 5 minute power play terrible. The Bruins did a fantastic job at disrupting zone entries throughout, but it’s simply unacceptable for such a talented unit to lay that kind of an egg during such a golden opportunity. I will gladly live with last night’s power play struggles. The Flyers created chances all night long against Dallas but just couldn’t finish. Tonight’s struggles are the kind that you don’t want to see.
- -Matt Read appears to once again be the Matt Read of 2010-14. Fantastic news for a Flyers team that cannot afford to have him playing at a limited capacity again this season.
- -During the second period when most of the team was not looking great, RJ Umberger stood out as one of the best skaters for Philadelphia. Coming off of a minor injury, Umberger really came to play tonight, generating chances and playing a solid two way game. He picked up his third assist of the young season on the game tying goal by Simmonds in the third.
- -It was great to see the offensive powerhouses get on the scoresheet tonight. Claude Giroux notched 2 goals, Jakub Voracek notched two assists, Wayne Simmonds grabbed his first goal of the season and Mark Streit had 3 late assists. This team is just not going to win too many games without those guys contributing offensively.
- -Radko Gudas continues to be horribly inconsistent with the puck on his stick. A turnover nearly led to a goal early in the first period. He made several other very questionable plays throughout the night. He’s been better than he was during the preseason, but I’m still not impressed.