After a tough five game road trip, the Flyers began their four game home stand on a high note earning a hard fought win against the Devils 4-1. The Flyers had lost 7 of their last 8 games coming into tonight and although they looked shaky at times, the team did enough to outplay their division rival to earn the much needed victory.
The Flyers came out strong early in the first period with a shorthanded goal by Sean Couturier and a beautiful assist by Matt Read. Oddly enough, this was the first shorthanded goal all season for the Flyers. They entered tonight’s game as one of five teams in the NHL that had not yet recorded a shorthanded goal.
Later on in the first, Couturier returned the favor to Read by setting him up in front of the net for his 3rd goal of the season and giving the Flyers a 2-0 lead heading into intermission. This marked the first time since Nov. 6 (15 games) the Flyers have held a 2-0 lead in the first period.
Read spoke after the game about his team’s strong play in the first period:
“I thought we came out in the first period just working hard and skating a lot better than we have been,” Read said. “It’s just about getting pucks in the right areas, and working hard for your teammates and just moving your feet and things went our way tonight.”
Devil’s right winger Martin Havlat cut the Flyers’ lead in half with his 3rd goal of the season heading into the second intermission, but late third period goals by Wayne Simmonds and Jake Voracek iced the victory for the Flyers.
After the game, Simmonds was asked about the importance of that third goal late in the third period:
“It was nice,” Simmonds said. “Obviously you got that insurance goal, you don’t want to go down right to the last two minutes only up one goal there. I thought we did a good job tonight. We were getting shots in on the power play and I thought it was only a matter of time before we put one in.”
The Flyers outperformed New Jersey in just about every major statistical category including out-shooting New Jersey 36 to 18. It’s the fewest shots the Flyers have allowed in a game since Dec. 28, 2013, when they held Edmonton to 16 shots in a 4-3 shootout win.
Flyers’ goalie Ray Emery started in net tonight against the Devils and with good reason. Emery loves playing New Jersey as he improved his career record against them to 8-4-0-2 with a 1.78 GAA.
Although it’s always nice to get a win over a division rival, the Flyers beating the Devils tonight is only temporary gratification to an overall disappointing start to their season. Even after tonight’s win, Philadelphia still holds the 6th seed in the Metropolitan Division and are two points behind New Jersey for the 5th seed.
Reports started surfacing a few weeks ago that Flyers’ coach Craig Berube was on the hot seat due to the team’s slow start. For a couple of games, the Flyers admitted effort was a problem. Now the team says they need to continue to consistently implement what they do in practice for their games. Flyers fans, as well as the team’s front office, are notorious for lacking patience when it comes to players and coaches.
The Flyers next play another winnable game against the Carolina Hurricanes before taking on much tougher opponents such as the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers. Hopefully tonight’s win was the first in a successful home stand for the Flyers. Over these next few games, it’ll be interesting to see which direction the Flyers head in. A lot is on the line including the head coach’s job and potentially some player’s futures with the team. The Flyers look to start another winning streak as the Carolina Hurricanes make the trip the Philadelphia for a 1pm start time Saturday afternoon.