Flyers Backcheck: A Beautiful New Jersey Beatdown

Remember that 6-4 loss at the hands of the New Jersey Devils back on Oct. 9th? Yeah, that wasn’t going to fly this time. It was a New Jersey beatdown on Thursday night as the Flyers breezed past the Devils for a 4-1 win. The Flyers snapped a four-game losing streak to the Devils, pulling them to within two points of that ugly team from Newark. But there’s more to be excited about.

Hello, Mr. Read

Entering Thursday’s contest against New Jersey, Matt Read carried a burdensome eight-game scoreless streak. The 28-year-old forward last found his name in the scoring summary on Nov. 22nd with an assist in Philly’s 4-2 win over Columbus. When it came to denting the twine, however, Read’s drought was at 10 games.

Those streaks are now history after Read turned in his first multi-point effort of the season after eating a pre-game cheeseburger.

“(Wayne) Gretzky used to say, ‘Go out and have a cheeseburger before the game to make yourself play a little guilty,'” said Read before Thursday’s game. “I’ll keep eating healthy because my body’s feeling good, but I might have to go have a cheeseburger.”

The Flyers’ third line was dominant against New Jersey, accounting for the team’s/game’s first two goals. After Jakub Voracek was sent to the penalty box early in the first period for hooking, Read turned a block shot into a New Jersey delayed tripping penalty, but quickly returned to his feet to finish off an odd-man rush that resulted in Sean Couturier scoring Philly’s first shorthanded goal of the season.

“They played great tonight, along with Umby,” said forward Wayne Simmonds. “I think their line sparked us right off the jump. We just followed their line and kept taking it to them.”

Later in the period, the roles were reversed as Couturier threw a centering pass that ticked off of Read’s stick and past a defenseless Cory Schneider. The Flyers as a whole unloaded on Schneider, outshooting the Devils 10-5 after one, and 36-18 when the game went final. But after Martin Havlat’s second period tip-in, it appeared as though the Flyers would watch another lead evaporate.

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That wasn’t the case after Simmonds gave the Flyers their first successful power play in the third, which came on their fifth try on the man advantage. And with two and a half minutes left in the game, Jakub Voracek slammed home his 10th goal of the season into an empty New Jersey net.

“It’s huge, especially if we want to stay in the playoff race,” said Couturier afterward.

With a victory in the first of a four-game homestand, the Flyers have now collected points in four straight games. And with their second win in three games, the men in the dressing room know just how valuable these points are.

Birthday Celebration

On his 37th birthday, defenseman Mark Streit turned in an effort worth celebrating. The second-year Flyer led all of his teammates in time on ice with a healthy total of 23:33. The nine-year veteran was active in every facet of the game, adding two assists to go along with his pair of blocked shots. Streit’s blocks were part of Philadelphia’s 21 total blocked shots, which made life easier on Ray Emery, who earned his fifth victory of the season.

Mark Streit is a player known for his offensive contributions, but he was a standout in the defensive zone tonight. He almost singlehandedly neutralized a three-on-one in the second period, and stopped a sure goal late in the third when the Devils could have cut the lead to 3-2. Streit struggled a bit around the Thanksgiving holiday, but it seems like he’s back in solid form. — Charlie O’Connor, Broad Street Hockey

Streit’s assists on Thursday gives the former Islanders captain a four-game point streak, and his third multi-point game of the season. As he turns a year older, the veteran defenseman has been leaned on heavily, turning in 20:00 or more of ice time in 26 of Philadelphia’s 28 games. The Flyers are now 8-6-1 when their alternate captain on the blue line collects at least one point.

But even those facts don’t illustrate Streit’s importance to the Flyers. Streit’s 18 points are not only 10 points higher than any other defensemen on the team, they also tie him for 11th in points among NHL defensemen. With his two points against New Jersey, the Swiss defenseman is now tied with the likes of Dennis Wideman, Duncan Keith, and Kris Letang.

Tidbits from a New Jersey Beatdown

Home Ice Swing

Thursday’s win not only snapped a four-game losing streak to the Devils at home, but a six-game streak of the road team winning between these two divisional foes. The New Jersey beatdown was the first on home ice since Mar. 15th, 2013, and just the second in their last eight meetings at the Wells Fargo Center.

Jake Voracek Watch

With his third period empty-netter, Jake Voracek has yet to be held scoreless in consecutive games. Voracek’s 10th goal of the season gives him one more than Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, who Voracek is now tied with (35 points) for second among the league’s top point scorers. The 25-year-old winger snapped a four-game goalless stretch after notching two goals in three games back at the end of November.

Jaromir Jagr Robbed

Former Flyer Jaromir Jagr faced the team he spent a single season with just one assist shy of Steve Yzerman’s 1,063 assists. Jagr appeared to have tied Yzerman in assists for seventh all-time when Martin Havlat cut the Flyers’ lead to one in the second period. The assist would later be rescinded, however, as the helper was credited to Damon Severson. It was probably easy for Jagr to shake off, though, since he earlier joked about playing into his 50’s.

A Salute to Zac Rinaldo

If you can’t have fun at your own expense, then life is awfully miserable. Zac Rinaldo should enjoy his second period shot attempt with plenty of laughs. Especially since the Flyers ended up winning the game. The fourth liner led a three-on-two rush into the New Jersey zone before abruptly slamming on the breaks to go for glory. As you can see, his attempt was just off the mark. It’s a shame too since Rinaldo was one of just two Flyers to be held without an official shot on net. Who’s keeping these stats? It’s a conspiracy!

More Home Cooking

The Flyers will continue their homestand on Saturday as they host the 8-17-3 Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina’s 19 points are tied with Edmonton for the league’s lowest point total as the Canes have now lost four straight. And for all the negativity surrounding the Flyers’ road play, Carolina has been slightly worse. Their 3-10-2 road mark gives them just eight points while playing away from home.

The Flyers aren’t good enough to take a team like Carolina lightly, though. The Hurricanes have downed formidable opponents this season such as, Calgary, Pittsburgh and Nashville. And even if they hadn’t, the Flyers know they’re the last team that should be looking past anyone. Oh great – now I’m scared.