Photo by Amy Irvin/38 Photography
I warned you guys earlier today. If you chose to ignore my warning and watched the Flyers lose 4-1 to the Devils tonight, please do not come crying to me. The Devils have really had the Flyers’ number over the past few seasons, and tonight was no different. The Flyers struggled right from the gate to establish any offensive pressure, eventually succumbing to a New Jersey early on in the third. Despite a short-lived lead in the second period, the Devils were the better team for the majority of the evening and the final score of 4-1 reflected that.
There was really only one positive for the Flyers during the first: Steve Mason. The Flyers netminder was able to turn away 14 shots in order to keep the game scoreless behind a stagnant Flyers offense. The two Devils shots that found pipe also helped. The Flyers allowed the Devils to have their way offensively while being dominated by neutral zone pressure and only registering 4 shots on goal at even strength.
The early second period was mostly a back and forth battle of offensive ineptitude. The Flyers did a much better job of playing neutral zone defense while still mostly struggling to establish any consistent offensive zone time. Given the way these Flyers/Devils contests have gone in recent years, it was fitting that the first goal of the game came on a fluky deflected shot off the stick of Luke Schenn. Minutes later, Travis Zajac would capitalize on a beautiful power play setup in front from Kyle Palmieri. Scott Laughton gave the Devils the power play after a shaky offensive zone play led to a 3 on 2 rush the other way.
The first two minutes of the third period were basically a disaster and for the most part sealed the Flyers’ fate. Opening the period with 1:13 of power play time remaining, the Flyers were stifled completely with the man advantage and surrendered the go-ahead goal to Kyle Palmieri just seconds after it ended. A minute later when Travis Zajac added a power play goal that was very similar to his first one, all hope was more or less gone. New Jersey plays probably the soundest shutdown hockey in the NHL, and the Flyers struggled through the rest of the period to generate any offense whatsoever.
- I’ll be curious to see zone entry numbers from this game. From up in the press box, it certainly seemed like the Flyers were playing far too much dump and chase hockey throughout the entire night. Great neutral zone pressure from the Devils surely contributed to that.
- Obligatory point about how Nick Schultz didn’t play well again tonight.
- Matt Read played a fair amount of time up on the first line during the second half of the game tonight when Michael Raffl missed a couple shifts. It’ll be interesting to see if it continues. For what it’s worth, they were able to put some decent shifts together with Read up there in the third.
- Jakub Voracek just has to start scoring soon. He continues to do just about everything well. He carried the puck through all three zones beautifully tonight, creating several chances that he just couldn’t finish. I’m still not even remotely worried, and you shouldn’t be either.
- Next Flyers/Devils game I am having everyone over to my apartment to watch Season 3 of The O.C. on DVD. You are all welcome to join.
- While it’s still early in the season ,tomorrow night is a pretty big test for Dave Hakstol and the Flyers. For the first time this season, they’ve put a couple pretty rough games back to back. It would be nice to see them bounce back strong tomorrow night in Buffalo.