POST GAME 10-3-09: FLYERS 5, DEVILS 2
O.K.... onto the game.
The Flyers came into a New Jersey arena and looked composed, poised, confident, you pick the adjective. It was evident early on that this wasn't going to be your typical Flyers-Devils game up here.
While the 9-35-9 record in New Jersey the past 19 years is a bit daunting, this group of Flyers was hell bent on slapping history in the face.
From the opening draw to the final horn, the Flyers were the better team. They won more puck battles, they controlled possession, they pressured the Devils defense and they did something they almost never do - they wore out Marty Brodeur.
My three stars were:
1. Ray Emery - He was superb in the first two periods, stifling the Devils and allowing his team to build a four-goal lead.
2. Matt Carle - He's so much more active n the offense now that he's paired with Chris Pronger. I really expect a big season from him.
3. Laperriere - The guy just exudes character and grit. He will be a fan favorite in no time - great personality too.
DID YOU SEE:
- Laperriere actually got things rolling early in the first period with a great play in the corner that led to a hooking penalty on Johnny Oduya. The Flyers didn't score on the ensuing power play, but the hard work certainly set a tempo in the game.
- Kimmo Timonen made a nice sliding stop to break up a 3-on-2 early in the game with the score still tied. It's one of those little things that get overlooked in a game with seven goals, but it kept momentum from swinging right away.
- The Flyers penalty kill held the Devils to just one shot on goal during a full 2-minute 5-on-3. Chris Pronger spearheaded the effort with great work down low while Blair Betts and MIke Richards were pests at the top of the triangle.
- Credit Paul Martin with a great defensive play to thwart Claude Giroux's breakaway chance in the closing seconds of the first period.
- Ray Emery got a delay of game penalty for playing the puck outside of the trapezoid. That's one of those weird sounding penalties that makes me chuckle a little bit. Anyway, Emery didn't have to deal with that rule in Russia last season, wonder if he had a small brain cramp there.
- Laperriere almost scored a second goal in the second period on a redirection. Only thing is he tipped it wide of the net.
- Early in the third period, with New Jersey really pressing, both Danny Syvret and James van Riemsdyk turned the puck over at the point to the Devils. Van Riemsdyk addressed that afterward. "I made a couple bonehead plays that I need to eliminate, but I felt more comfortable out there tonight," he said. The second bonehead play as coming off the bench too quickly to play the puck leading to a bench minor for too many men on the ice and the subsequent Devils' first goal.
- It took the Flyers 82 games to allow a shorthanded goal in 2008-09, but just two games befoe they allowed one in 2009-10.
- Pronger, Matt Carle, van Riemsdyk, and Claude Giroux were each plus-3. Oduya was a game-worst minus-3.
- The Flyers really rolled their four lines. The fewest minutes of any player was Daniel Carcillo who logged 11:06. That's good balance and fine coaching on Stevens' part to make it work out so evenly.
O.K.... now for Laperriere. Combined with Pronger, the Flyers added two of the best interviews in the NHL. Here are some snippets from Lappy:
Q: Are you supposed to score goals:
IL: Once in a while I guess. It always feels good to help the team that way.
Q: It was a tough angle, no?
IL: If I don't know where it's going, then I don't think Marty does either. I just tried to put it on net and hope good things happen.
Q: You ever scored on Marty before?
IL: I did, yeah. I've been playing a long time. I'm not a goal scorer, but the odds are firmly in my favor. It's not really my job to score but if I can chip in once in a while, then it's good.
Q: Talk about Emery keeping the Devils off the scoreboard when it was 1-0 or 2-0.
IL: Yeah, he made a sick save there when it was 2-0. It was the play of the game. When you see a goalie making saves like that you get momentum and everybody has a little boost on the bench.
Q: Looking forward to the day off tomorrow after winning the first two games?
IL: I don;t know. Is that what they do? I don't know. I'm the new guy so I'm just going to go with the flow and see what goes on tomorrow.
Q: You hear a lot about being the team to beat. What does it mean to start the season 2-0?
IL: It's a long season. Hockey News came out with that a lot of people came out with that, but it's a marathon. We have to take it game-by-game and stretch by stretch. We'll have some ups and we'll have some downs, we just have to come out on top at the end of the season.
Q: Do you like getting an identity as a tenacious penalty killer?
IL: I made a career doing that. (Blair) Betts made a career doing that. They didn't bring us here to score goals obviously. We welcome the challenge.
Q: Does it take a while to learn the rivalries after being used to the ones out West?
IL: I don't know. I'm not mad at anybody yet. Give me a couple games and I'll get mad at someone. Out west I had my rivals. All these guys are new to me. I need to look at the stats sheets and see who they are. I am sure they are doing the same thing for me. When you play against these guys a couple times and you get a couple cheap shots here and there you remember them. It's only Game 2. Trust me, I'll find my rivals.
Q: In time for the playoffs?
IL: Maybe a little earlier.
Q: Van Riemsdyk said the goal was all you despite his pass.
IL: I don't know. This kid is sick. You don't get drafted second overall for no reason. I didn't know who he was, but he's doing things veterans would do out there. It's nice to see a kid with that much poise, especially on your team.
Hey, somehow there are still 500 tickets remaining for Tuesday's opener. Come on people, you have to get there to see this team. Besides, they're playing Washington. Alex Ovechkin is worth the price of admission alone and you get to welcome back Mike Knuble to boot.
Off day for the Flyers tomorrow, so it'll be an off day for the blog too.. but look for much more come Monday, especially on the early success of the fourth line and a preview into the Caps and Pens coming up this week.