In a battle to defend the Atlantic Division top spot, the Flyers managed to hold off their division rivals, the New York Rangers, by a score of 4-1. In the process, they extended their current winning streak to five straight games, in a hard-checking defensive match up.
The first period set the tone for the entire game. It was an intense battle with little room in the middle of the ice. There were a total of 17 hits, 9 for the Rangers and 8 for the Flyers. The shot total, 8-2, favored the orange and black, and no goals were scored.
The second period saw things open up, as both teams established their powerplays. Jeff Carter seemed to be re-acquainting himself with the center position and took two minor penalties on the night. Brandon Dubinsky scored the Rangers only goal during the first of the two penalties.
After the Dubinsky goal, all of the offense belonged to the Flyers, and the few shots the Rangers fired on the oppositions net, Sergei Bobrovsky handled without trouble. He’s backstopped all five games in the Flyers current winning streak with a 2.23 goals against average and a .921 save percentage.
Each game the rookie netminder plays, he looks more and more confident. He’s making saves moving from east-to-west, off of rebounds, and in traffic. The only issue left for Jeff Reese, Flyers goalie coach, to work on with Bobrovsky seems to be stopping shots from all angles. At the end of the game, both teams had registered 21 shots on goal, and Bobrovsky had out-dueled Henrik Lundqvist.
“He’s been pleasantly consistent from the time he got here,” Flyers Coach Peter Laviolette said. “I think he gets more and more comfortable with the speed of the game, the rinks, just about everything about the NHL.
“It’s all new to him. It’s not easy getting dropped into a market like Philadelphia when you come over and don’t speak the language. He looked comfortable out there to me.”
Another player proving he’s got the goods is Claude Giroux. He had two assists on the night taking him to 14 points in 13 games, and he leads the league with three short-handed goals.
“I don’t try to score goals while shorthanded,” Giroux said. “I just try and be strong defensively and when you’re good defensively, the chances that something will happen are pretty good. When you play with a guy like Mike Richards (on the penalty-kill), it’s a lot easier. He’s got so many shorthanded goals (20) … he’s so good at jumping in the play it makes it really fun playing with him.”
By the end of physical game, the hit counter reached a total of 36 between both teams, but one hit by Dan Carcillo stuck out in particular. In the third period, he left his feet hitting Ruslan Fedotenko up high and caused him to crumple to the ice. Everyone in the Wells Fargo Center saw the incident but the referees. Although no penalty was called on the play, it’s possible the league could still take disciplinary action.
Adding to the rough stuff, former Ranger, Jody Shelley met up with his replacement, Derek Boogaard, at 3:16 of the first period. The two have met several times before and after last night’s loss, Shelley’s record is a dismal 0-6-1 against Boogaard. It may be time for the 34-year-old heavyweight to call it a career and let someone younger handle things.
The Flyers next play Saturday on Long Island against an Islanders team that is enduring a six game losing streak and desperate to get back on track.