As the Flyers looked to finish the week strong with a win, they took on the Pacific Division leading Dallas Stars, in a very underrated matchup that didn’t get much hype since the two teams do not see each other that often. Kari Lehtonen has struggled in his career against the Flyers and had yet to win a game. He hoped to get his first win against the Flyers tonight, but the Flyers had other plans. Brian Boucher was called on by Peter Laviolette tonight after a string of consecutive starts by Sergei Bobrovsky, and helped the Flyers to a 3-1 victory Saturday evening.
The Flyers came out to start the game with a much better effort than they have been getting at the beginning of games of late. Andrej Meszaros, who seems to be the king of wrist shots on the Flyers lately, tallied to make it 1-0 on another wrist shot. It was a great pass by Ville Leino to set up the play. Meszaros has been doing it all year on both ends of the ice and his offensive efforts have really increased of late. Kudos once again to Paul Holmgren. It seemed like a risky move at first to pick up Andrej’s contract, but it’s paying off nice. Meszaros deflected credit when talking to the media about the goal. “It was a nice play by Ville to pass it to me and I was just trying to find a shooting lane,” Meszaros said after the game.
In the second period, the Flyers tapped in to one of the areas they’ve been most successful in the past few season and that is the penalty kill coming up with some huge shorthanded goals. Darroll Powe did that tonight off a feed from Blair Betts to put the Flyers up 2-0. It was a really pretty goal over Lehtonen’s left shoulder with pinpoint accuracy in the corner. Powe had a more simple explanation for it when he talked about it after the game. “I saw him dropping down and I just tried to get the puck over him and into the net and it found a way in,” Powe said. “Our line has been playing really well the last few games and it was nice to get rewarded.”
The Flyers played a sub par second period, but bounced back strongly in the third with an insurance goal from Jeff Carter that squeaked through with just more than 9 minutes left in regulation. The Flyers defense locked the game down from there and they held on for the victory. Ville Leino had yet another strong game tonight adding an assist with a +1 rating and he has been rewarded with increasing ice time, averaging up there with the top forwards of late. Also, other than a really lazy penalty by Nik Zherdev in the first period, the Flyers were really disciplined tonight. Disciplined hockey is Peter Laviolette’s stamp on this team. When they are putting all of the above together, they’re tough to beat.
In tonight’s victory, Brian Boucher came up big again as he has so many times during the course of this season. It has really given Peter Laviolette a very solid 1-2 duo to go with and everyone in the locker room believes they can win no matter who is in there. While on the subject of goaltending, we had a source tonight who confirmed the Flyers had no interest in Ray Emery for the Flyers, and while I didn’t want to even mention it because it was an absurd rumor, I should do my duty and do so, and also state that it was never going to happen, at least with this club right now. Maybe with the Phantoms if he can’t get an NHL team to take a chance? Maybe. But not way can the Flyers bring him aboard with the way their two guys have played. As far as the Bobrovsky/Boucher tandem goes, Laviolette seemed to become visibly annoyed when couple reporters asked him at his press conference about choosing a number one goalie for down the stretch. “We don’t make those decisions this far in advance,” Laviolette said. “There’s not only a lot of confidence from me, but confidence from the whole team in front of both goaltenders.”
In the roller coaster that is the NHL’s schedule, the Flyers will now not play again until February 10th at home against the Carolina Hurricanes. Amazing how you can have 3 games in 4 nights and then 5 days off between home games. The Flyers will look to keep the momentum against Carolina, something they have struggled with after long layoffs between games. Hopefully that trend does not affect the effort in the upcoming game.
Other Game Notes/Observations:
* With tonight’s loss, Kari Lehtonen is now 0-10-1 lifetime in his career against the Flyers.
* The Dallas Stars have not won a game in Philadelphia since December 1, 2007.
* On a minor (extremely minor) note, Adam Burish did not play in what some called a “rematch” with Chris Pronger tonight, due to an injury he sustained Thursday.
* Claude Giroux became the first Flyer to 50 points tonight with his assist on Jeff Carter’s goal.
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