After nine seasons photographing for Inside Hockey from rink side, I decided to broaden my coverage to include my observations from the press box as a columnist. In the end, the Flyers’ 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils looked the same no matter where you sat.
The evening began with the Flyers’ pregame video show of past victories while the Black Eyed Peas played “I gotta feeling that tonight’s gonna be a good night.” As the old joke goes, I can’t say that Flyers had a good night, but I can say they had an awful evening.
Here are my observations of the game from the six snapshots I would have taken if I were down by the ice.
Snapshots 1 and 2
Five minutes into the game, New Jersey’s Anton Volchenkov crushes the Flyers’ Brayden Schenn behind the net. The Flyers respond two minutes later when Zac Rinaldo and Sean Couturier simultaneously crush Volchenkov, leaving him lying on the ice for several minutes. Interesting to note that Rinaldo ended the first period with five hits, leading all players. I always assumed that it was like the NFL, and Rinaldo would have only been credited with ½ a sack.
Seven minutes into the first, Flyers Maxime Talbot and Brayden Schenn crash the crease and Talbot ends up with the first goal of the game. Talbot was the lone star for the Flyers. Not only did he score their only goal, but he led all players with four shots. Of course, all of the shots came in the first and second periods. Even the Flyers’ lone star did not shine in the third period.
Twelve and a half to go in the first period, goalie Ilya Bryzgalov (uncontested) tries to clear the puck, but charging David Clarkson “blocks the punt” for the unassisted score. For my second football analogy of the column, the punter never wants to hear two thuds. Clarkson’s goal proved to be the game winner.
Let’s fast forward to the final two and a half of the second – yes, the rest of the second period was that bad. Flyers Eric Wellwood and Sean Couturier have quality shots on the Martin Broudeur, and Bryzgalov stops a strong Zach Parise shot. Clearly the best two and a half minutes of hockey so far of the game for the Flyers. If you examined the snapshots, you’d guess the Flyers had the momentum going into the third to overcome the one goal deficit.
The last snapshot was ugly in many ways. Five minutes into the third, Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk holds Patrik Elias for a two-minute minor. It looked like he wanted to take Elias down by the neck. On the ensuring power play, Ilya Kovalchuk scores the insurance goal. The Flyers were not going to catch up.
Hard to say whether Claude Giroux’s suspension made a difference. The Flyers were flat. Even the Chicago Bulls were able to fend off elimination without their star player.
The Philadelphia Flyers, Sixers and Phillies all lost last night. Man, tough sports night in Philly. I just hope Eagles number one draft pick Fletcher Cox is ok.