On a night where you would think the Flyers would look a little tired and sluggish after playing their greatest rival the Pittsburgh Penguins on the road last night, the Flyers were anything but. It was another Thrilla in Philla. It was another fight night. They came out firing right away on offense against the New York Islanders. The game turned into an absolute blowout and it didn’t take long to get that way. It was also by far the most chippy game the Flyers have played this season, with 120 PIM. If there has been a chippier game since the 2004 brawl with Ottawa, I can’t remember. There were some questionable calls and hits that will be looked into after the game as well. All an all, a very intense night for the 2nd night of a home-and-home and the “Flyer Dads” meetup.
Kimmo Timonen got the Flyers off on the right foot tonight by scoring the first goal by a Flyers defenseman this year after a couple chances and a scramble in front. The Carter-Giroux line then continued their strong play, with 6 points between that line tonight, including two goals for Carter. Peter Laviolette seems to have a good pulse on this team now because that tweak in the lines really seems to be helping Jeff Carter out the most over anyone on the team. I asked Peter Laviolette after the game if the suddenly wide awake Flyers have embarked upon this run of consistent play due to the changes he has made in the lines a few games ago, mainly pairing Giroux on a line with Jeff Carter. “The one thing we were set on coming in was the Briere line. We were going to let them sort themselves out,” Laviolette said. “You have new pieces in place and you’re trying to figure everything out. We feel comfortable with the lines the way they sit now.” Laviolette praised the effort of all three top lines as being effective tonight and also praised James van Riemsdyk and Andreas Nodl’s play specifically.
The bad news from tonight’s effort is that there were a couple unfortunate plays that may cause some guys to miss time. Andrej Meszaros and Andreas Nodl both left the game early with “upper body injuries.” They are going to be re-evaluated tomorrow. The Flyers said there would be no further update on the players tonight. However, a couple sources tell me that both guys “should be OK.” Even though it was a shoulder to shoulder hit if you watch the replay, Trent Hunter’s 5 minute boarding major on Andrej Meszaros may be considered “blindside.” Hunter was given a 5 minute major as well as a game misconduct. You be the judge on the hit:
Trent Hunter’s hit on Andrej Meszaros
Hunter was not alone. There were also some questionable penalties and hits later in a game that looked like it would be innocent heading into it. One day away from Halloween, maybe it was a full moon who knows. Briere also had a cross check later in the game that looked pretty bad on Nielsen. Briere was given a 5 minute major as well as a game misconduct for the play. Nielsen had scored earlier in the game on a penalty shot on what I felt was a very weak call by the referee. The rule states there needs to be a clear path to the goal and I felt they were side-by-side pretty much the whole way. Tonight’s officials were Dean Morton and Don van Massenhoven.
The game got out of control in the 3rd period, with Carcillo again fighting Konopka (they fought twice tonight), and at the end of the game DiPietro left his crease to attempt to take on one of the Flyers. Chris Pronger grabbed DiPietro and pinned him against the boards. A couple writers agreed that we felt we saw Pronger lip “Go Ahead” and then DiPietro left to get in the face of Dan Carcillo. I asked Pronger about this after the game if he could tell us what was said and Pronger replied, “No, I’ll let him tell you.” When DiPietro was asked by a reporter after the game if he was looking for a fight it sounds like he definitely was. “I didn’t care who I fought, just not [Pronger].” A reporter brought the situation up to Carcillo after the game. “He’s a big guy,” the reporter said about DiPietro. Carcillo had a witty response. “He is? Would’ve been nice to fight him.”
Other Game Notes/Observations:
-Nikolay Zherdev was a healthy scratch from the Flyers lineup for the second straight game. It looks like one can officially assume he is in the “doghouse” now. When asked if Zherdev would get back into the lineup if any forwards were to miss time in the next game, coach Peter Laviolette was not committing either way, “I’m sure [Zherdev] would like to get back in there.”
-Sergei Bobrovsky got his third straight start in net tonight and that is the longest “streak” for any goalie during the regular season so far on the Flyers. Just a bit surprised it was on back to back nights after a road game against your division rival. I asked Bobrovsky after the game if he feels like he’s finally in more of a rhthym with playing in 3 consecutive starts. Bobrovsky once again not taking any personal credit, replied through his translator, “I’m very happy that we continue to win. It’s great and we have to keep it up.”
-Kimmo Timonen scored the first goal among the Flyers defensemen for the season, but it wouldn’t last long as the lone goal as Pronger also netted two tonight.
-Dan Carcillo and Zenon Konopka fought each other twice tonight. The first fight was a real beauty in the 1st and the 2nd one was more of just Konopka being frustrated. Getting 2 for roughing, 5 for fighting and a game misconduct.
The Flyers will now need to come down from this emotional high and get ready to play the Carolina Hurricanes at home on Monday night at 7 p.m.