Flyers Withstand Late Rally by Washington in 6-4 Win

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Claude Giroux scored two goals with one assist in win over Washington. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Claude Giroux scored two goals with one assist in win over Washington. Photo by Webster Riddick.

—In Wednesday’s win over the Washington Capitals, the Flyers jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first two periods and appeared to be cruising to an easy win.  They came into the third period with a three-goal lead.

But then the Capitals woke up early in the third period and made things interesting by cutting the lead to one thanks to goals by right winger Alex Ovetchkin and Troy Brouwer. Jakub Voracek’s goal pushed the Flyers back to lead to 5-3 with a little over eight minutes left.

Just when the Flyers thought they had some breathing room, the Capitals closed the gap to within one with six minutes left on a power-play goal by center Brooks Laich who tipped in a shot by defenseman Mike Green.

Somehow by the skin of their collective teeth the Flyers withstood the furious Washington charge and came away with a 6-4 win in front of 19,919 fans at the Wells Fargo Center.

“We were playing well in the first two periods,” said Claude Giroux, who scored two goals and assisted on another score. “In that third period, they became aggressive and we sat back a little bit. We have to make sure that when we get a lead like that we have to keep it.

Steve Downie’s empty-net goal sealed the deal for the Flyers, who improved their record to 33-25-6, in what was the final regular season game between the two bitter rivals.

Head coach Craig Berube didn’t like the way his team took the pedal off the gas after jumping out to a 4-0 lead, especially the penalties they took in the third period.

“I think we have to get better at playing full games on a more consistent basis,” Berube said. “We’re talking about being a more consistent hockey team, not getting too high, not getting too low. Just come out and play our game for 60 minutes.”

In that third period, Washington was 2-for-2 on the power-play and kept the pressure on the Flyers.  Berube said because the Flyers weren’t on the attack in the third, they became susceptible to penalties.

“In this game in the third period, we didn’t have the puck enough,” Berube said. “We compete in the offensive zone with the puck and we have to keep the puck. We try to wear teams down that way.”

Early in the game, it looked like the Flyers were ready to end the competitive portion of this game in the first two periods.  In the first period, they got goals from Giroux and Voracek, who also finished game with two goals, take an early 2-0 lead.

In the second, Giroux scored on an unassisted goal four minutes into the period. Mike Raffl’s goal gave the Flyers what appeared to be an insurmountable lead with 8:08 left in the second. The Capitals pulled goalie Braden Holtby for Phillip Grubauer.

Washington scored its first goal of the game on a goal by right winger Joel Ward with 6:54 left in the second and it appeared to be window dressing in what was looking to be a rout by the Flyers.

But then Ovechkin and the Capitals made things interesting and took advantage of the Flyers lackadaisical play to make things close.

“For two periods, we played an extremely good hockey game and you can’t let your foot off the gas in this league because teams are going to take advantage of it,” said goalie Steve Mason.

Flyers Bounce Back From Bad Loss to Upend the Rangers

 

By  Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

PHILADELPHIA—After getting blasted by the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, the Flyers had a good start, a shaky middle, and a strong finish to upend the New York Rangers 4-2 Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.

Wayne Simmonds scored a goal and assisted on another score in the Flyers 4-2 win over the New York Rangers.

Wayne Simmonds scored a goal and assisted on another score in the Flyers 4-2 win over the New York Rangers.

“I think our guys have good character,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. “There’s three or four games like (the San Jose game) this year and we came back and had a real good game.  I was pretty confident that we would come out and play hard.”

Luke Schenn and Wayne Simmonds scored the game’s final two goals to break open a 2-2 tie to put the Flyers (31-24-6) to within a point of the Rangers (33-25-3) in the Metropolitan Division standings. It was Simmonds goal with 6:43 left in the second that put the Flyers on top for good. Schenn’s third-period score sealed it for the Flyers.

For the first five minutes, it looked like the Flyers were headed to a continuation of Thursday’s loss to the Sharks.  Flyers left winger Scott Hartnell committed a pair of penalties and gave a Rangers squad that knows how to score on the power-play two opportunities to put them in an early hole.

But on the both occasions, the Flyers killed the Rangers early power-play chances thanks to their defense and the goaltending of Steve Mason, who came up with some saves.

“It’s not the way you want to start a game because we’re setting ourselves back, but when you’re able to kill penalties against an extremely talented power-play in the first couple of minutes of the games, it was a good feeling moving forward,” said Mason, who finished the game with 33 saves.

Despite being outshot early in the game, the penalty kills fired up the Flyers offense midway through the opening period. First, Vincent Lecavalier scored a goal following up a shot at the point by Simmonds with 13:04 left in the period.

A little over a minute later, Sean Couturier scored the Flyers second goal on a breakaway after he took a pass from Matt Read at center ice to put his team up 2-0.  Simmonds said stopping the Rangers on the power-play got the Flyers offense going.

“We know that they have a great power-play, but our penalty kill has been great all year long,” said Simmonds, who had a goal and an assist in the game. “We take too many penalties as a team as it is and our penalty kill goes out there time after time and bails out of the situation. After that, we just want to get our legs going…we start rolling four lines and everything started clicking after that.”

In the second period, the Flyers experience a lull that enabled the Rangers to get back in the game.  The Rangers got on the board on a goal by left winger Chris Kreider. New York tied the game on a power-play goal by right winger Derick Brassard off a pass from center Brad Richards with 7:18 left in the period.

Even though the second stanza was dominated by the Rangers, the Flyers jumped back into the lead with 6: 43 left in the period on a power-play goal by Simmonds who took a pass from Brayden Schenn at left wing circle and hit a slap-shot past Rangers goalie Henrik Lundquist, who played the Flyers tough in recent years.

“I was looking for (Jakub Voracek) back door, but no one even came to me so I thought I was just shoot it as hard as I can and if worse comes to worse there’s a rebound off to (Voracek), but luckily it went in,” Simmonds said.

 

 

Flyer Can’t Overcome Slow Start in Loss to Carolina

 

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Claude Giroux scored the Flyers first goal in the loss to Carolina Photo by Webster Riddick.

Claude Giroux scored the Flyers first goal in the loss to Carolina Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—For the first 39 ½ minutes in their game against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Flyers looked like a team that didn’t get enough sleep the previous night. The team hadn’t skated in two days thanks to Tuesday’s snowstorm. They were down 2-0 until they got a goal from Claude Giroux with 25 seconds left in the second period.

Three minutes into the third period, a goal by Scott Hartnell evened the game and it looked like the Flyers had found their energy.

Unfortunately, the Flyers once again found out that you can’t fall behind a team and expect to win.   Carolina came with a 3-2 win over the Flyers in front of a sell-out crowd at the Wells Fargo Center Wednesday night.

 Jiri Tlusty’s goal with 6:10 remaining in the third period was the game-winner for the Hurricanes (21-19-9).  

“We didn’t play very good and we ended up losing the game,” said Flyer head coach Craig Berube. “The whole game we weren’t very good. You’ve got to have a lot more energy than that.”

In the first period, the Flyers (25-20-6) couldn’t get anything going on the offensive end and managed to get off just three shots.

“We can’t be shooting ourselves in the foot like this we need to have better starts,” Giroux said. “I think first period was the way we wanted to play. I know we didn’t skate for two days, but that’s not good enough.”

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes Alexander Semin provided the only scoring of the period when he took a pass from center Eric Staal near the right-wing circle and shot it past Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros and goalie Steve Mason for a 1-0 lead.

“It was just a heck of a shot,” Mason said. “He got a really good shot through (Meszaros) body a little bit. It was just a nice shot.”

The Hurricanes upped the margin to 2-0 on a break-away goal by center Nathan Gerbe, who  took control of the puck that went through the leg of defenseman Luke Schenn, who was standing at the top of the blue near the right wing circle.

Late in the second period, the Flyers got into the scoring column a goal by Giroux, who rebounded a shot by Jakub Voracek that bounced off the pad of goalie Anton Khudobin. Giroux, who was to the left of Khudobin, somehow got the puck behind the Carolina goalkeeper and into the net.

“When (Giroux) scored late that was a big goal for us to give us some momentum,” said Flyers left winger Scott Hartnell.

The Flyers would even things three minutes into the third period on a power-play goal by Hartnell, who shot the puck into the net on a rebound off a shot from Wayne Simmonds that was blocked by Khudobin.

After Hartnell’s goal, the Flyers simply could not sustain the momentum and they looked like a team struggling to find some energy on the offensive end. On defense, they allowed Tlusty’s goal because Voracek broke his stick and didn’t have enough time to get a new one from the bench.  

For the last two games going back to Monday’s overtime shoot-out loss to the New York Islander, the Flyers have been lulled into thinking they can just turn it and off even if they fall behind as they did in Wednesday’s game.

“We just sat back and thought that we were going to wait until overtime and maybe win it in a shootout,” Hartnell said. “That’s not the way to play. It hasn’t been our ‘MO’ when we’ve been successful, but we’ll change that.”

Flyers Rebound from Loss in Chicago

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Claude Giroux had a goal and assist in the win over Montreal. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Claude Giroux had a goal and assist in the win over Montreal. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—Thursday Night’s game at the Wells Fargo was a homecoming in more ways than one for the Flyers.

For starters, the Flyers were trying to put an end to a three-game losing streak while getting over the shellacking they took at the hands of the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Black Hawks on Wednesday night to cap a long six-game road trip.

It was also the return of former Flyers and now Montreal Canadiens center Danny Briere, who got a video tribute and a standing ovation from the Flyers fans filled with memories of his 30-point performance during the team’s run to the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals.

“We all loved Danny,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. “We loved his time here. He’s a great guy and a very good hockey player. There’s a lot of respect from us and his teammates. He got a great welcome from the fans.”

Showing no signs of having played 24 hours earlier, the Flyers gave the 19,748 home fans something to cheer about with a 2-1 win over the Canadians. It was the Flyers sixth straight win on their home ice.

“After our performance in Chicago … we did a good job of five-on-five today,” Jakub Voracek, who had two assists. “Actually, we weren’t thinking about last night when we got our ass kicked. Every game is zero-zero and we knew it, I think we played very well tonight. It was a huge two points to bounce back after a disappointing loss in Chicago.”

Berube said he was happy with the energy and heart his team showed in their first night at home after a long road trip that ended with a horrific loss.

“I think there’s a lot of character in the room,” Berube said. “They certainly weren’t happy about that loss in Chicago because they wanted to show that they could compete with that team. It didn’t work out they wanted it to, but it was a lot of character and it was a good win tonight. They played a good team game tonight.”

After giving up seven goals against Chicago the previous night, the Flyers clamped down on defense and kept the Canadian from getting any good shots on goalie Steve Mason, who had 20 saves against 21 shots. Montreal didn’t score until there was 56 seconds left in the game.

“It was a great overall effort,” Mason said. “Guys were really hard not to give them too many opportunities to have any rushes because they’re a fast team.”

Claude Giroux, who scored what turned about the game-winning goal in the second period, said the Flyers defensive effort also got the offense going.

“I think we really did a good job,” Giroux said. “Most of our chances offensively is because we played good defensively. When we understand that we’ll have more chances.”

The Flyers also stayed away from the penalty box. The Canadians had just one just one power-play opportunity, but did not score.

With 6:03 left in the first period, Flyers left winger Michael Rafl scored the game’s first goal on a pass from Voracek who was positioned behind the net to the left of Montreal goalie Carey Price. It was Rafl’s second goal of the season. It was really special because his dad was in the building for the Flyers Father-Son Night.

“It was just great, amazing,” Rafl said. “He never saw an NHL game live and all this stuff was just awesome.”

The Flyers took a 2-0 lead midway through the second period on a goal by Giroux, who got the puck on a cross pass from Voracek, who got his second assist of the game.

The Canadians got their only goal late in the game from center Alex  Galchenyuk.

Third Line Leads Flyers to Win over Buffalo

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Matt Read scored two goals in win over Buffalo.

Matt Read scored two goals in win over Buffalo.

PHILADELPHIA—Coming into Thursday night’s game, the Flyers (9-10-2) had lost all seven games in which their opponent scored the game’s first goal.

During a lackluster first period for the home team, Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers, in a scrum near the Flyers net, somehow got a shot past goalie Ray Emery to give his team a 1-0 lead. A few weeks ago that goal would have been the kiss of death for a Flyers team that was struggling to score.

But the early Buffalo goal only served to wake the Flyers up as they did all the scoring the rest of the way in a 4-1 win over the Sabres in front of a sell-out crowd at the Wells Fargo Center.  The Flyers are 5-0-1 in their last six games and have outscored their opponents 22-8.

“After that (first period) we kept at it and kept it at and we finally got a couple in the second,” Emery said.

After struggling in the first period, the Flyers seized control of the game in the second period thanks to their No. 3 scoring line which consisted of right winger Matt Read, who scored the team’s first two goals, Steve Downie and center Sean Couturier, who got assists on those two scores.

“The third line played great,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. “It’s nice to get balanced scoring for sure. When you can have everybody chipping in, it goes a long way.”

Read scored the Flyers first goal with 6:53 left in the second period on a pass from Downie. A little over a minute later, Couturier stole the puck from Sabres defenseman Henrik Tallinder and passed it to Downie who circled around the net and found Read in front of the net who shot the puck past goalie Ryan Miller.

“As a line, we played pretty good,” Couturier said. “We kept it simple, put puck deeps and won some battles. Read finished two nice plays there.”

Read said he, Downie and Couturier often meet about getting deep in the scoring zone and getting the puck to the net and they’re doing a good job of developing chemistry with each other.

“Couturier, Downie and I are having fun out there,” Read said. “We’re doing the simple things and not turning pucks over, just making things happen. The key to our line is to get pucks deep and go to work. Things just went our way tonight, but we have three or four solid lines. Any given night, any line can score. It’s fun to play when all four lines are cooking like that.”

After the second period, the Flyers kept the pressure on the Sabres in the third period. With 10:02 left in the game, Vincent LeCavalier’s goal upped the margin to 3-1. Scott Hartnell added another on an empty-netter with 11 seconds left in the game. For the game, the Flyers outshot the Sabres (5-18-1) 46 to 30.

Meanwhile, Emery had a solid night in goal for the Flyers. He had 29 saves while upping his record to 3-3 on the season. That was something that was not lost on Berube.

“Ray was solid again. He’s done a really good job. He’s a very good goalie,” Berube said. “He wins a lot of games. He goes in there and wins games. Like I say again, he was solid.”

Flyers Score Three in the Third Period to Sink Ottawa

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Claude Giroux got the Flyers going with a power- play goal in the first period in the Flyers win over Ottawa Photo by Webster Riddick.

Claude Giroux got the Flyers going with a power- play goal in the first period in the Flyers win over Ottawa Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—Earlier in the season, the Flyers had a penchant for taking one or two goal leads only to have the other team come back and win the game.

When Ottawa Senators center Kyle Turris scored the game-tying goal with 16:48, it was looking like one of those bad nights for the Flyers, who had jumped out to a 2-0 early in the second period.

But the Flyers (8-10-2) refused to fold and exploded for three goals in the third period for a 5-2 win over the Senators Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers have won four out of their last five games and are 5-1-2 since a fight-marred shutout loss to the Washington Capitals.

“It was a very good response by our team,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. “I thought the whole third period we played to win that game. It’s encouraging, it’s good to see. … You’re looking for your team to play and skate for 60 minutes. Sometimes, you’re going to do that and not get a break and lose, but if you do it on a consistent basis, you’re going to win more than you’re going to lose.”

Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen had a big night for his team with a goal and two assists. It was his goal past Senators goalie Robin Lehner with 8:30 left that put the Flyers on top for good. Twenty-three seconds later, Wayne Simmonds added an insurance goal to make 4-2. Adam Hall’s empty-netter in the final seconds capped an impressive third period.

“The way earlier in year has been going for us it’s been a lot of bad losses or tight losses, but when we’re able to turn these games into two points for us in the third period, that’s a good sign,” Timonen said. “The team looks good right now. They’re skating, we’re working and doing the system pretty well. The boys are playing unbelievable. It’s a lot of good things going for our team. Hopefully, we can keep doing it.”

It also helped that the Flyers got a little bit of luck. With 10:30 left, Turris pushed in a shot that was headed for the back of the Flyers net. But the puck hit the left skate and bounced the right skate of defenseman Nicklas Grossmann. The official behind the net ruled that it was no goal.

“I tried to get some guys out of the crease and I felt the puck coming off my left foot and after that, I just hit it with my reflexes,” Grossmann said. “I didn’t see the puck coming in, just reflex and a lot of luck.”

The play was reviewed by the replay officials and the call was upheld. Photographic evidence suggests that the puck might have snuck past the goal line, but it wasn’t conclusive enough to overturn the call.

With the ruling in their favor, the rejuvenated Flyers began their push to win game thanks to the scoring of both Timonen and Simmonds.

“We said no matter what happens if it’s a goal we were going to stay with our structure,” Simmonds said. “We were going to get opportunities all game. We’re confident in ourselves. We know what we have to do. Today was great because everybody did their job and we came up with the win.”

Meanwhile, Flyers goalie Steve Mason had another outstanding performance with 32 saves including a huge save on a penalty shot by Turris late in the third period.

“He played well,” Berube said. “He’s been playing well all year. A big save on that penalty shot. That was a huge timely save.”

The Flyers started the scoring with 3:16 left in the first period on a power-play goal by center Claude Giroux who got a pass from Timonen to the right of the Senator’s goal. In the second period, the Flyer upped the lead to 2-0 on a by center Sean Couturier who was set up on a pass by Timonen.

Later in the second period, Ottawa got its first goal of the game on a goal by left winger Clark MacArthur before Turris tied it in third period.

Flyers, Giroux End Scoring Woes in Win over Edmonton

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Claude Giroux celebrates his first goal of the season in the third period of the Flyers win over the Edmonton Oilers. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Claude Giroux celebrates his first goal of the season in the third period of the Flyers win over the Edmonton Oilers. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—There are several ways you can look at the Flyers 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on a Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.

One way is to say it was inspiration from the players-only meeting after Thursday’s embarrassing shutout loss to the New Jersey Devils. They played 60-minutes of solid hockey, especially in the third period when they scored two goals. They outshot the Oilers 34-26.

“I think some choice words were said in that meeting and we all gotta be accountable,” said Flyers right-winger Wayne Simmonds. “I thought we came today and played a much-better game for 60 minutes. We stuck with our structure and we got two more goals in the third period which is always nice.”

Or you can be a cynic who sees the glass as half empty and say the Flyers were playing a last-place (Pacific Division) Oilers squad (4-12-2) that gives up 3.8 goals per game. This is a team the Flyers should beat. The only problem with that logic is that the Flyers (5-10-1) are at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division standings.

Given the way the Flyers have struggled to score, the team is simply happy with the win and is hoping that it will give them a boost of momentum for their three-game road trip that will take them to Ottawa (Nov. 12), Pittsburgh (Nov.13) and Winnipeg (Nov15).

“I thought that we played a real good third period tonight,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. “I thought that we kept playing and doing the right things. I like the way we got the puck deep and forechecked tonight. I like getting 30-plus shots a game and putting pucks on net.”

Another bright spot for the Flyers is that team captain Claude Giroux finally ended his scoring slump and smacked a slap-shot past Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk to give his team a 3-1 lead 8:34 left in the third period. It was his first goal of the season.

“It was big,” said Flyers left winger Jay Rosehill. “The bench was really happy and all pumped up. (Giroux) had a big smile on his face. A guy like him isn’t going to go scoreless very often. To get a nice goal like that we needed was big, so I expect him to start rolling now.”

It was especially huge for a visibly frustrated Giroux who had two excellent scoring chances for goals in the second period, but just could not find the net before getting that third period goal. After that second point-blank miss, he shattered his stick in frustration on the Flyers bench.

“Jake (Voracek) and (Scott Hartnell) did a good job of finding me,” Giroux said. “I think we were real aggressive today-the whole team.  The (Oilers) are really talented offensively and we had to make sure that we had a good effort.”

When Edmonton left winger Taylor Hall pushed a shot past goalie Steve Mason to cut the Flyers 3-2 with 6:35 left in the game, fans might have been wondering how the Flyers were going to blow this game given some recent history.

Vincent LeCavalier put that notion and the Oilers to rest with 5:27 left in the third when he took a pass from Braden Schenn and slid it past Dubnyk to put the game away for the Flyers.

Oddly enough, it was Rosehill, known more for his toughness, who got things going for the Flyers in the first period when he took a pass from Mark Streit about four yards in front of the Oilers goal and smacked it past Dubnyk.  He also got the best of Luke Gazdic in a fight that put him in the penalty box for five minutes.

“Rosey did a great job,” Berube said. “He scored a goal and had a big fight. Rosey has done everything we’ve asked of him.”

Later in the first period, Streit assisted on another goal when found a streaking Scott Hartnell who put the puck in the net to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead. Edmonton cut the lead to 2-1 in the second period on a goal by left winger David Perron.

Flyers goalie Steve Mason finally had a solid game with support from the offense. He finished the game with 24 saves.

Flyers Scoring Slump Continues in Loss to New Jersey

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday

Wayne Simmonds said Flyers are thinking too much during scoring slump.

Wayne Simmonds said Flyers are thinking too much during scoring slump.

PHILADELPHIA—Statistics that say that you have a probability to lose under certain circumstances are only true when your team finds itself in said situation and makes that stat true.

Coming into Thursday’s game against the New Jersey Devils, the Flyers were 0-6 when the other team scores first. Given the Flyers inability to put the puck in the net on a regular basis, there is always a high probability that they would be finding themselves on the losing end of the score again.

Now make it 0-7.

Just one-minute and 57 seconds into the game, New Jersey got on the board first when Adam Henrique deflected a shot from teammate Eric Gelinas that got past Flyers goaltender Ray Emery.  That gave the Devils what could construed as an “insurmountable” 1-0 lead given the Flyers lack of scoring punch.

New Jersey got two more goals in the third period from Cam Janssen and a late empty-netter by Jaromir Jagr to complete a 3-0 shutout of a Flyers squad that couldn’t seem to find a way to score against an aging Martin Brodeur (22 saves). The 19,604 fans gathered at the Wells Fargo Center voiced their frustration by serenading their team with boos as they walked off the ice.

“It just means we’re not doing our jobs,” said Flyers right winger Wayne Simmonds. “The fans react to what they see and it’s not good enough.”

It marked the second straight home game in which the Flyers did not score a goal. They haven’t scored on their home ice since an Oct. 29 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

After the game, the Flyers had a players’ only meeting to figure out how they can break out of their scoring woes. Simmonds, who would not elaborate on what was said during the confab, said the team’s inability to put the puck in the net is more of a mental issue than anything else.

“We’re not penetrating, we’re not getting quality shots,” Simmonds said. “I think we’re thinking too much about passing instead of shooting. When things aren’t going for you tend to pull up for the extra play instead of just throwing stuff at the net. When you get bounces, you get stuff off other team’s skates and sticks. You get the dirty goals. I think that’s where we gotta start. It starts in practice (Friday). I think we gotta come to practice tomorrow. We gotta stop in front of the nets and bury every puck we can.”

Whether the players-only meeting will eventually help the Flyers remains to be seen, but they have to start somewhere.

“The only way I know is to work hard and play hard for your teammates,” said Flyers defenseman Hal Gill. “That’s what we gotta keep working on and find a way to make the puck drop and get that first goal. Things are going to come, we’re going to get guys to score goals. I think we believe that we just have to fight through the times that it’s not happening.”

The one area that really killed the Flyers was their inability to put together anything on their power-play opportunities. Not only were they 0-for-3 on the power play, they could only manage three shots. Head coach Craig Berube was not pleased with his team’s effort with the man-advantage Thursday night.

“We got outplayed and outworked,” Berube said. “That can’t happen. I think there’s some games, if you go back, the power-play looked good, but the puck didn’t go in. On a consistent night, you got to outwork the penalty kill. You go to create momentum for your team. We did not do that tonight.”

Rock Bottom: Capitals Shutout Flyers in Fight-Filled Contest

 

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Steve Mason gives up to goal to Washington's Jason Chimera as the Capitals scored five goals in the second period. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Steve Mason gives up to goal to Washington’s Jason Chimera as the Capitals scored five goals in the second period. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—With Washington’s prolific goal-scorer Alexander Ovechkin out with an upper body injury and his teammates playing the final game of a five-game road trip, you would think that this would be an opportunity for the Flyers to score a few goals and possibly steal a win.

The Flyers were also hoping that left winger Steve Downie, who was acquired by the Flyers from the Colorado Avalanche in a trade for Max Talbot, would provide some scoring punch. That didn’t work either. He left the game in the second period and was taken to Pennsylvania Hospital to be treated for concussion symptoms.

Instead, the only team doing the stealing was the Capitals who took what they wanted in a 7-0 shutout of the Flyers in front of 19, 702 disgruntled fans at the Well Fells Fargo Center.  The fans took their disgust out on team general manager Paul Holmgren by chanting, “Fire Holmgren.”

“I can’t blame the fans,” Holmgren said. “We’re as frustrated as they are.”

The booing and chanting came during the second period when Washington (6-7-0) scored five goals to pretty much end the competitive portion of the game. The fortunes of a team that can’t score got even more complicated by their inability to stop the other team from putting the puck in the net.

In short, the Flyers (3-9-0) got their collective rear-ends handed to them on the scoreboard. It was no doubt the low point of what has been tough season.

“It can’t get a whole lot lower, can it?”  Flyers head coach Craig Berube asked rhetorically after the game. “Everybody’s been involved in these games before. You can’t sit there and dwell upon it. You gotta play a game (Saturday against the New Jersey Devils). Compete tomorrow, work real hard. That’s what you do.”

Speaking of Holmgren, he addressed the team during the second intermission to express his own disgust at the way the Flyers were playing.

“We played pretty good for 15 minutes. Once they scored their first goal, we just stopped playing,” Holmgren said. “We were afraid to play the game. We were afraid to make plays. We were afraid to battle for pucks, afraid to skate after pucks. It was tough to watch. I’m sure the players are very embarrassed.”

Flyers goalie Ray Emery engages in a brawl with Capitals goalie Braden Holtby. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Flyers goalie Ray Emery engages in a brawl with Capitals goalie Braden Holtby. Photo by Webster Riddick.

The only thing Flyers fans had to cheer about was a third-period melee which resulted in 114 minutes of penalties. For the game, the teams had 164 minutes worth of penalties.  It started with Wayne Simmonds fighting Capitals right winger Tom Wilson and that escalated into a brawl between Vincent LeCavalier and Caps defenseman Steve Olesky.  Just as Brayden Schenn was mixing it up with Washington defenseman Alexander Urbom, Flyers goalie Ray Emery sprinted down the ice to put a beat down on Capitals net-minder Braden Holtby.

“As a group we were frustrated tonight, our fans are frustrated,” Emery said. “Things didn’t go our way. We all grew up playing hockey and sometimes that happens. We don’t take losses like that.”

Berube said the third period brawl showed that his team wasn’t going to lay down and quit.

“They care,” Berube said. “They’re frustrated. That’s what it boils down to.”

Vincent LeCavalier gets into a brawl with Capitals defenseman Steve Olesky in the third period of a 7-0 loss to Washington. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Vincent LeCavalier gets into a brawl with Capitals defenseman Steve Olesky in the third period of a 7-0 loss to Washington. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Added Holmgren: “They were getting slapped around. It’s a response. Do I have an issue with it? No.”

If this game was scored on a 10-point must system, the Flyers would have won hands down. It’s too bad the Flyers can’t score the way they can fight. If they shot pucks into the net the way their fists hit the faces of Capitals players, they might be Stanley Cup contenders. The video of this brawl will probably go viral on social media sites and will also go to the NHL offices for possible suspensions.

Two Washington players Nicklas Backstrum and Joel Ward had hat-tricks against the Flyers defense.

In the first period, the Flyers out shot Washington 8-4, but when the clock hit zero to end the period, it was the Capitals with a 1-0 lead.  With 2:32 left in the period, Washington was able to get on the board when Nate Schmidt took the puck that caromed off the stick of  Simmonds and passed it to Erat Martin, who found Backstrom in front of the circle to left of the goal. Backstrum shot the puck past Mason for the score.

What made things even more disheartening was that the Flyers held the Capitals without a shot on goal for the game’s first 15 minutes.

“We played pretty good (in the first period), they got the goal, we didn’t respond,” Berube said. “That’s what I saw.”

Things didn’t get any better for the Flyers in that fateful second period either as Washington exploded to score five goals-three within the first five minutes of the period. The Caps scored the first of those goals in 1:24 of the period when Ward got in a shot past Mason.  A little over a minute later, left winger Jason Chimera scored to make it a 3-0.

That goal got Mason pulled from the game, but that didn’t stop the Capitals from scoring. Backstrum got his second goal on another shot between the blue line and circle that went past Ray Emery. Just five minutes into the second period the Capitals had an insurmountable 4-0 lead.

Washington added two more goals-including Backstrum’s third and another in the third to complete the rout.

 

Flyers End Four-Game Slide With Win over the Rangers

Matt Read put the Flyers on the period with an unassisted goal in the first period.

Matt Read put the Flyers on the board with an unassisted goal in the first period.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

PHILADELPHIA—Never mind that the New York Rangers are missing several players from their starting lineup and that they are among the worst teams in the NHL (3-6), the Flyers were desperate for a win over anybody.

This is definitely true for a Flyers (2-7-0) squad that has had trouble scoring more than one goal in most of their games this year.  They have yet to score more than two in their first nine games of the season.

Suffice it to say, the Flyers 2-1 win over the Rangers Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center was progress or at least a step in the right direction.

Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn scored what turned out the winning goal with 16:27 left in the third period when he took a pass from Matt Read at the point and shot it past New York goalie Cam Talbot.  Head coach Craig Berube said he was glad to see his team score enough goals to get their second victory of the season-his first as the Flyers coach.

“Getting a win is the most important thing obviously,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. “Wins are wins in this league. You play games where you play really well and you don’t win. You’ll play games where you play average or not so good and you win. It’s good for the confidence. That’s what we play for is to win hockey games.”

The goal scorers for the Flyers were not the guys from the team’s top scoring lines. But when you’ve been in a sweltering desert of not putting the puck in the net, you’re happy to get a goal from just about anybody.

The Flyers will definitely take Read’s short-handed, breakaway goal midway through the first period.  He separated the puck from Rangers center Derick Brassard near center ice and streaked in front of Talbot and shot the puck through the five-hole (between his legs) for the goal.

“You always know the length of the pads these days, that five hole’s always open, so you just sit tight and shoot it in the five-hole,” said Read, who also had an assist on Coburn’s game-winning goal.

Meanwhile, Steve Mason had another brilliant in goal for the Flyers with 30 saves. For him, it was an effort that didn’t go to waste because the offense didn’t score enough goals. The Rangers only score of the game came on a goal by center Brad Richards late in the first period.

“You just have to ready for anything,” Mason said. “You know the next save could be the turning point in the game. I think (Cam) Talbot made a huge save coming across on Brayden (Coburn) and that could have swung the momentum in their direction. But it was my job just to make the saves.”

It also helps to have a few breaks go your way as well.  Midway through the third period, an apparent game-tying goal by Rangers center J.T. Miller was overturned by the replay officials, who ruled that the puck was kicked into the net.

“It was a kicking motion, I knew it right away,” Mason said.

But there are still some areas of concern for the Flyers. They were 0-for-4 in the power play including a five-minute power play that came when Rangers left winger Benoit Pouliot hit center Max Talbot and pushed him into the boards.  Pouliot was given a game misconduct and ejected.

“For some reason, it’s not going in right now, but you have slumps like that during an 82-game season,” said Flyers captain Claude Giroux. “The last three years our power play has been the top of the league. We just have to keep working on it and it will come.”

Meanwhile, Talbot, with a band-aid on his nose, was back on the ice in the third period. He said he was checked by doctors and was eventually allowed to get back in the game.

“Not disoriented. It’s a weird feeling obviously,” Talbot said. “I don’t wish that on anybody. No symptoms (concussion), no headaches or anything.”