By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
PHILADELPHIA—There was an old coach who once said defense with no offense is like working all day and not making any money.
In their season-opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Flyers worked their butts offs and did everything they could to put the puck into the net. They outshot the Maple Leafs 32-25 and stayed on the attack for the most of the game. They had several chances to score, but just could not finish it off.
“When you’re up 30 shots on net, usually you get two or three goals,” said Flyers center Vincent LeCavalier. “We just couldn’t capitalize.”
But in the end, your hard work has to pay off with goals and the Flyers didn’t have enough of them as Toronto came away with a 3-1 win in front of a sellout crowd of 19,872 fans at the Wells Fargo Center.
“Offensively, that’s the best we’ve looked, but at the end of the day, we’ve got to put more goals in than one,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “Like I said there were lots of pucks, they blocked a lot of shots. I thought we missed the net a lot tonight. It seemed like we had some zone time.
“Give Toronto credit. I thought that they played hard through the second and third and they made it difficult to find better chances or better scoring areas we had to work for those spots. They played pretty good defensively tonight.”
If anything else, the effort was there for the Flyers, but the execution was flawed as they were constantly attacking Toronto goaltender Jonathan Bernier with shots and did not score enough goals to win. The Maple Leafs goalie had 31 saves.
Even when the Flyers had the man-advantage on the Maple Leafs, the didn’t do much with it and were just one of six on the power-play. Claude Giroux said the Flyers inability to take advantage of those power-play opportunities were a boost in momentum for the Maple Leafs.
“When you kill a penalty, you get momentum,” Giroux said. “We had our chances and it’s frustrating, but we have to stay positive. It’s one game. We have 81 more.”
The Flyers dominated the first period and spent most of the first 20 minutes attacking Bernier. The Flyers broke through for what turned out to be their only goal of the game on the power play when Brayden Schenn took a pass from LeCavalier and shot it past Bernier to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead.
Toronto evened the game in the second period on a goal center Phil Kessell with a little over three minutes left.
Perhaps the biggest momentum killer for the Flyers and the biggest boost for the Maple Leafs was the missed penalty shot by right winger Wayne Simmonds, who got to go one-on-one with Bernier when he was tripped on a break away by Toronto’s Paul Ranger.
Bernier stuffed Simmonds shot and that was emblematic of the Flyers first evening of the 2013-2014 season.
“I missed it. It would have been the difference in the game, I think,” Simmonds said. “When you get to a penalty shot situation, obviously it’s one-on-one, he got the better of me that time.”
Toronto would go ahead for good early in the third period on a goal by center Dave Bolland. He would add a power-play goal late in the game to close out the scoring for the Maple Leafs.
Despite giving up the last two goals of the game, goaltender Steve Mason was solid in goal with 22 saves. Laviolette said he was satisfied with his performance.
“I thought Mason was good,” Laviolette said. “He made a couple of big saves in the second period. A couple of point-blank chances that they had.”