After holding the lead at two different times, 2-0 and 3-2, the Flyers fell to the visiting Devils 4-3, in the shootout. The stellar play of sophomore netminder Sergei Bobrovsky was the only reason the Flyers even had a chance at the win, as bad passes and turnover marred their play throughout the contest.
The first period was a slow one that saw chippy play on both sides. The scoring didn’t get started until the second period, off of shots by fourth liner Zac Rinaldo, set up by 18-year-old Sean Couturier and another by Claude Giroux set up perfectly by Jaromir Jagr.
Rinaldo’s goal was his first in the NHL, and came when Couturier stripped a Devil defenseman of the puck behind Devils’ netminder Johan Hedberg, and found the young pest in front. Giroux’s goal was on a beautiful play by Jagr, as he skated behind the Devils’ net and took all eyes with him to feed an easy goal to Giroux hiding at the far post all alone.
The lead wouldn’t hold up, however, as the defense was in disarray without team captain Chris Pronger, who’s still out with an eye injury. The team fell victim to bad passing and turnovers, mainly from defenseman.
Veteran defenseman Matt Carle, a victim of untimely turnovers, said, “I feel like I let my team down.”
The goaltender Bobrovsky tried to take responsibility for the goals, but all three came off of turnovers in the Flyers’ zone, and looked very much the responsibility of poor team defense and bad passing decisions.
Carle went on to commend Bobrovsky for making saves that should have probably gone in.
Bobrovsky, in his fourth start of the season, bounced back from a disappointing 9-8 loss to the Jets, that saw him pulled after allowing three-goals in the first period. The Russian netminder stood on his head in this one, stopping point blank shots from all angles, including a breakaway opportunity by All Star winger Ilya Kovulchuk.
At the end of two periods, the Flyers had been outshot 30-14, and looked like they were on their heels. Bobrovsky gave them a chance to win, and was responsible for them coming away with a single point in the game. After the final buzzer, he’d stopped 36-of-39 New Jersey shots on goal. Even though he didn’t receive a star on the night, he was the best Flyer in the match.
Since Pronger went down with and eye injury, their team defense has been a mess of turnovers and bad breakout passes. Notable offenders have been Andreas Lilja, Andrej Meszaros and Matt Carle. In Thursday’s outing, even Braydon Coburn, who’s been having a strong season so far, made simple mistakes and gave up pucks. The problem appears to be in their own zone, where they’re attempting dangerous passes, and not making sure their breakouts are executed properly.
They Flyers had 18 giveaways on the night, and three of them came back to burn them. It’s tough, as Pronger isn’t sure when he’ll be back with the team. The word is he’ll practice on the ice on Friday and see how he feels, so hopefully his return will be soon. The team could use the steady blueliner to settle things down.
The Flyers are back at it this Saturday, when the Columbus Blue Jackets, without Jeff Carter will be at the Wells Fargo Center. Ilya Bryzgalov will likely be back in net, and hopefully some of the injured players will be back in the lineup.