Simmonds and Mason Lead Flyers to Game 7

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Wayne Simmonds scored three goals to help the Flyers force Game 7 against the New York Rangers.

Wayne Simmonds scored three goals to help the Flyers force Game 7 against the New York Rangers. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—On a whirlwind day in sports where the commissioner of the NBA banned the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers for life for some ugly racist remarks, Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers excelled for his team in a sport in which few Black athletes play.

With his team facing elimination from the Stanley Cup playoffs, Simmonds helped the Flyers prolong their season for at least one more game by scoring three goals in a 5-2 beat down of the New York Rangers at the Wells Fargo Center Tuesday night.

“(Simmonds) was all over the puck,” said Flyers captain Claude Giroux, who scored on an empty-net goal in the third period. “I think when Wayne wants to win the battle, he wins it and kind of gives everybody in the room the motivation to do the same.”

Simmonds became the second Black player in the history of the NHL to score a hat trick in a playoff game. Chicago’s Dustin Byfuglien accomplished the feat back in a playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks in 2011.

More important than the social or societal significance of his accomplishment, Simmonds’ performance propelled the Flyers to a victory in an elimination game and pushed the opening round series to a seventh and deciding Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.

“We’re all the same color on the inside and we all have a common goal and that’s to go out there and get wins and that’s what we’re going to do,” Simmonds said. “That’s what we do every day.”

  Flyers goal tender Steve Mason saved 34 of 36 shots on goal. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Flyers goal tender Steve Mason saved 34 of 36 shots on goal. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Equally as good as Simmonds’ performance was that of goalie Steve Mason, who kept New York from scoring until the game was way out of reach. He had 34 saves against 36 shots. His tenacity along with  his teammates scoring has the Flyers one win away from advancing to the next round of the playoffs.

“Obviously, he played real well. He had a real good period in the first,” said Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault. “He gave his team a chance to come out of there a goal ahead. He’s a good goal tender.”

Giroux said Mason’s good start in goal got the Flyers going and set the tone for the entire game.

“It was impressive to see Mason play the way he played tonight. He’s been doing it all year,” Giroux said. “For him to do it in Game 6, it’s great. He was our leader tonight with the way he played tonight and his attitude. It was great to watch him work hard.”

Mason, who stopped 13 shots on goal in the first period, said getting the feel for the puck coming at him early was important for his overall confidence throughout the game. He a had a couple of early  glove saves.

“It’s always important to feel the puck early I find,” Mason said. “If you’re getting some big saves early in the game, it’s something to build off of for the rest of the game. I was able to make a couple of timely saves to start off the game. … It was nice to be busy early in the game.”

The Flyers got on the board first with a power-play goal by Simmonds who got a pass from Scott Hartnell. Simmonds rebounded his own shot and put it past Rangers goalie Henrik Lindqvist to give his team a 1-0 lead.

In the second period, the Flyers took command and punched their ticket to the Big Apple by scoring three goals in the period. Simmonds second goal of the game came off teammate Brayden Schenn’s stick. He then shot the puck past Lindqvist. That score put the Flyers up 2-0.

After the Flyers penalty kill squad and a  g00d glove save by Mason stopped a Rangers power-play opportunity, Erik Gustaffsson, who committed a high-sticking penalty, jumped out of the penalty box, took a pass from Braydon Coburn and scored on wrist-shot beneath Lunqvist’s pads to give his team a 3-0 lead.

Simmonds’ third goal of the game came on a power-play when he followed in a shot by Jakub Voracek to give his team an insurmountable 4-0 stranglehold that basically punched their ticket to New York for Game 7. The game was delayed for a few minutes to clear the hats off the ice.

“Obviously, it’s do or die, we win or we go home,” Simmonds said. “I think everybody in the dressing room did a good job preparing for the game. We’re not ready to go home yet. We want to move onto the second round. I thought we played a game good, but we gotta carry it over to (Wednesday) night.”

Flyer’s head coach Craig Berube is hoping to bottle his team’s Game 6 performance for Game 7. He likes his team’s chances despite being on the Rangers home ice for Game 7.

“Going back two or three years ago, we hadn’t won there,” Berube said. “Winning that game up there (in Game 2), we know we can win up there. It’s confidence. Our guys realize we can do it.”

Emery and the Flyers Come up Short in Game 3 Loss to Rangers

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

It was tough night for Flyer goalie Ray Emery.  Photo by Webster Riddick.

It was tough night for Flyer goalie Ray Emery. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—It wasn’t a difficult decision for Flyers head coach Craig Berube to start Ray Emery in place of an injured Steve Mason.

After all, Emery had a strong effort in the Flyers Game-2 win over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden—the team’s first win at the world’s most famous arena since 2011.

“Ray’s played well and he’s coming off a big win,” Berube said before Tuesday’s Eastern Conference playoff game at the Wells Fargo Center.

It was too bad that Emery couldn’t stop the Rangers in Game 3 as New York dominated every phase of the game in a 4-1 win over the Flyers in front of a packed house of fans clad in orange.

New York now has a 2-1 lead in the best- of-seven NHL Eastern Conference First Round series and it also means the Flyers are in a must-win situation for Friday’s Game 4 at home.

Despite outshooting the Rangers 32-23, the Flyers couldn’t get anything past goalie Henrik Lundqvist (31 saves) except for a goal late in the first period by Mark Streit. That was also because the Rangers defense stuffed the Flyers offense for most of the game. New York blocked 28 shots and smothered them at every opportunity.

“I think you got to move the puck quicker than we are. I think it’s too predictable in what we’re doing with (Claude) Giroux and Timonen,” Berube said. “We had a lot of zone time with the puck. They did a good job with the puck, but we gotta get it to the net. If you don’t get it to the net, you’re not going to score. We gotta build deception here and there and get them through.”

Not getting enough scoring opportunities on the offensive end really manifested itself in the Flyers power play. The Flyers were 0-for-5 with the man advantage.

“We try to get the pucks through the net, especially on the power play,” said Flyers defenseman Kiimmo Timonen. “We gotta do it better. They blocked way too many shots and we gotta find away to do it better and do it quicker.”

Within the game’s first four minutes, Rangers center Derek Stepan scored the game’s first goal when he rebounded a shot by teammate Rick Nash that caromed off the left glove of Emery and into the net. About seven minutes later, Martin St. Louis put the puck past Emery to give New York a 2-0 lead midway through the first period.

Berube said Emery didn’t play a bad game and could have used more help from his defense. He also said falling into an early 2-0 hole hurt his team. Emery had 16 saves against 20 shots on goal before being pulled for Steve Mason in the third period. Berube did not say who was going to start in Game 4.

“I’m sure (Emery) wants a couple back, but he’s battled,” Berube said. “He gave us an opportunity going into the third period. … You can’t get down 2-0 in games like this. We gave ourselves an opportunity, but we need the better start.

The Flyers finally got on the board late in the opening stanza on a goal by a streaking Mark Streit, who took a pass from Jakub Voracek who was skating at the circle to the left of Lundqvist.

Despite outshooting the Rangers in the second period, the Flyers found themselves in a two-goal deficit thanks to a goal by New York defenseman Dan Girardi. The Rangers final goal of the game came on a score by former Flyers left winger Daniel Carcillo, who banged his stick on the glass near the Flyers goal and then stared at a fan.

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.

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 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.”

 

 

 

 

Rejuvenated Ray Emery Returns to Philly Ready to Win

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

http://www.thechrismurrayreport.org

Flyers Goalie Ray Emery  will be competing for starting spot at goaltender this upcoming season. Photo by Chris Murray

Flyers Goalie Ray Emery will be competing for starting spot at goaltender this upcoming season. Photo by Chris Murray

PHILADELPHIA-Flyers goalie Ray Emery returns to the City of the Brotherly Love with a better understanding of what means to keep fighting on in the face of difficult circumstances.

During his last stint with the Flyers in 2010, he was diagnosed with avascular necrosis or AVN in his right hip and it nearly ended his career.  Luckily, the doctors caught the disease before it spread and did a bone graft to repair it.

“It was a shock to me,” Emery said. “Being an athlete you feel invincible. When somebody gives you news like that, you almost don’t believe it.  I’m very fortunate that I had that operation. It stopped the deterioration of my hip and the function came back to 100 percent.

“I was that close to not being able to play the sport.”

The 30-year-old Emery said coming that close to seeing his career end has given him the confidence to get through difficult stretches of games during the course of a season.

“You gain confidence just because of past experiences,” said Emery, who credits the Flyers with helping him find the doctors needed to treat his condition. “It’s just kind of a process involved when overcoming things that pop up.”

A rejuvenated Emery comes back to the Flyers after helping to lead the Chicago Black Hawks to the 2013 Stanley Cup title.  He signed a one-year contract with the Flyers last week worth $1.65 million.  The Flyers also signed former New York Islanders defenseman Mark Streit and former Tampa Bay Lightning center Vincent LeCavalier.

Emery is coming off a regular season where he went 17-1 backing up fellow Black Hawks goal tender Corey Crawford.   Emery also had an average of 1.94 in goals against (number of goals scored on him) and a .920 save percentage.

To start the 2013 season, Emery set an NHL record by winning 12 straight games as the goalie for the Black Hawks.  During his first stint with the Flyers in the 2009-2010 season, he was 16-11. He had a 2.64 goals against average and .908 save percentage.

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren believes the Flyers are a better team with (from left to right) former New York Islanders defenseman Mark Streit, goalie Ray Emery and former Tampa Bay Lightning center Vincent LeCavalier. Photo by Chris Murray.

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren believes the Flyers are a better team with (from left to right) former New York Islanders defenseman Mark Streit, goalie Ray Emery and former Tampa Bay Lightning center Vincent LeCavalier. Photo by Chris Murray.

Emery’s hip injury in March of 2010 kept him out of the Flyers run to the Stanley Cup finals. Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said he’s glad to have him back, but still wonders what would have happened if he had Emery in the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals.

“He’s one of the better goalies in the league,” said Holmgren. “If you look at Ray’s record since he’s been in the NHL all he does is win. You can even go back to the short time he was here. I remember his last game, he shutout Calgary 3-0 (in 2010) and then we got that phone call that his hip was bad.

“Everybody remembers our goaltending situation after that. Who didn’t we have playing after that? If we had Ray Emery that year, who knows? It’s easy to look back and say who knows, I guess.”

Oddly enough, during the Black Hawks march to the Stanley Cup, Emery was on the bench mainly because he had a groin injury prior to the playoffs and because Crawford was hot and Chicago was winning.

“That’s how it goes. Like I said there’s a certain part of you that wants to be in there,” Emery said. “But it’s your team. It was so exciting watching your team and being part of it.”

Coming to the Flyers, Emery will be competing for the starting goalie position with Steve Mason.  Even with the possibility of having to split time, Emery said he’s willing to do his part help the team to win.

“It’s more about the relationship,” Emery said. “It’s more about making it comfortable and getting the most out of both guys.”

Since starting his NHL career with the Ottawa Senators in 2002-2003, he has   compiled a 126-63 record. He was the goalie for the Senators when they lost to Anaheim in the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals.

Emery is one of 22 Black players currently playing in the NHL.

At this year’s NHL Draft, two Black players—Seth Jones, taken fourth by the Nashville Predators, and Darnell Nurse who was the seventh pick by the Edmonton Oilers-are the first to be taken in the top 10 of the NHL Draft.

Emery said he doesn’t mind being a role model to get more Black kids interested in the sport.

“It exciting when you’re a kid to have someone that if you’re interested in hockey and you’re a Black kid to have someone to look up to,” Emery said. “When I was a kid I had Grant Fuhr and Tony McKegney, a select few guys to look up to. I hope we can expand the game to different demographics. I think that’s a good thing.”