Knee Jerk Reactions: Flyers Opener
By Andrew Porter
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news. The good news…Flyers hockey is back. The bad news…Flyers hockey is back. It’s a bleak time in Philadelphia sports, and if we ever needed a Flyers win it was last night. Unfortunately, we didn’t get it, as the Flyers dropped their season opener to the Toronto Maple Leafs, 3-1.
- The Flyers dominated the first period, out shooting the Leafs 15-9.
- The Leafs were coming off a draining 4-3 win in Montreal on Tuesday night, and looked visibly tired.
- But the Flyers only scored once in the first period, which turned out to be their only goal of the game.
- The first period was even more lopsided than indicated by the shot discrepancy, as the Flyers missed the net a ton.
- I feel like this is a problem for the Flyers every year, no?
- In fact, for the game, the Flyers hit the net on only 32 of 73 shots (43.8%).
- In comparison, the Leafs hit the net on 25 of 42 shots (59.5%).
- The Flyers lone goal came from Brayden Schenn, who capitalized on one of the three first period Flyers’ 5-on-4 advantages, on a beautiful set-up from new Flyer, Vincent Lecavalier. (Watch play here)
- Lecavalier was the Flyers best player last night.
- Schenn, who played on the first line with captain Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell, got the crowd going early as he dropped the gloves with former Flyer, Joffrey Lupul about half way into the first period.
- As for the powerplay, the Flyers had seven opportunities, only capitalizing once.
- That’s a success rate of 14% for those counting at home.
- The Flyers did manage to stay out of the box for the most part, giving the Leafs only two powerplay opportunities of their own.
- However, the Leafs scored on one of their two powerplay chances.
- That’s a 50% success rate for those counting at home.
- The Flyers were outscored 2-0 in 5-on-5 action.
- Oh, and Wayne Simmonds failed on frankly, a poor penalty shot attempt late in the second period (Watch play here).
- Simmonds was skating down the right wing towards the net with the puck, had about half a step on defenseman Paul Ranger, was taken down and awarded a penalty shot with 3.1 seconds left in the second period.
- The correct call was a simple minor tripping penalty, but the official decided to award Simmons a penalty shot.
- In actuality, if able to chose, Laviolette and the Flyers would probably have preferred the powerplay on clean ice to begin the third period in a 1-1 game, rather than the Simmonds breakaway opportunity.
- By the way, Simmonds played with Bernier in Los Angeles for two seasons.
- That call, and play, changed the dynamic of the game.
- Dave Bolland scored 2:30 (watch play) into the third period to give the Leafs a 2-1 lead, and then again with less than one minute remaining to seal the deal (watch play).
- None of the three Leafs goals were really Steve Mason’s fault, who played well for the Flyers, stopping 22 of 25 Maple Leafs shots.
- Mason appeared very comfortable handling the puck, which helped the Flyers move out of their own zone at times, something we weren’t accustom to seeing the past two seasons with the goalie who-shall-not-be-named.
- The Maple Leafs, who have a similar goal-tender situation as the Flyers (James Reimer started and got the win for the Leafs in Montreal on Tuesday night), gave Jonathan Bernier the start last night and he dazzled.
- Bernier was terrific, keeping the Leafs in the game all night, stopping 31 of 32 shots.
- Doesn’t it always feel like the Flyers run into the “hot-goaltender”?
- Giroux looked like he was trying to do a little too much at times, similar to what we saw last year, trying to force the extra-perfect pass, over skating pucks, etc.
- Not sure what Luke Schenn was doing on Toronto’s go-ahead goal (Watch play).
- Zac Rinaldo only played 9:33, but was his usual spark-plug self.
- Rinaldo had three hits in the game, plus a spectacular shift in the second period where he almost drew a penalty.
- By the way, what does Max Talbot do?
- My biggest fear with the Flyers is they are exactly who we think they are…average. I expected the Flyers to be an inconsistent, plain, semi-boring, but decent hockey team with not much upside and a chance to sneak into the playoffs, and although it’s only one game, that’s what they were last night. Not enough offensive fire-power, nothing intimidating at the blue line, and average between the pipes.
- For my own well-being, I hope I am wrong, but it doesn’t seem like there is anything exciting about this hockey team.
Andrew Porter is the Audio Roadshow Coordinator for SportsRadio WIP, editor and writer for The School Philly, and a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly. You can follow him on Twitter @And_Porter.