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.”

Mason Comes Up Huge for Flyers To Even Series

Flyers Goalie Comes up with 37 Saves in 2-1 win over the New York Rangers

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

Steve Mason had 37 saves in win over the New York Rangers Friday night.  Photo by Webster Riddick.

Steve Mason had 37 saves in win over the New York Rangers Friday night. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—Until further notice, a horrible game or the end of the Flyers playoff run, Steve Mason is your goalie. Period—end of discussion. There is no goalie controversy in this part of South Philly.

In a must-win situation, Mason did his part stopping 37 shots on goal and the offensive did just enough to support his outstanding effort.

Jakub Voracek’s second-period power-play goal gave the Flyers a 2-1 win over the New York Rangers Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center to even the best-of-seven first-round Stanley Cup playoff series at two games apiece.

With the way, the Rangers were attacking the Flyers net in Friday’s Game 4, Mason simply shut New York down for most of the game.

“He’s been great for us all year long, he’s very strong mentally and he showed that tonight,” said right winger Wayne Simmonds.

The two teams will lock horns in a pivotal Game 5 matchup at Madison Square Garden in New York on Sunday at noon. After having ended a three-year losing streak on the Rangers home ice in Game 2, the Flyers say they are confident that they come away with a win.

“That’s huge getting that win in New York the last time we played there,” Simmonds said. “It’s not on our minds anymore and we’re going to be focused on the game and making sure we do all the right things to be prepared for the game.”

On a night when the Flyers were out-shot by the Rangers 38-25, Mason, who hadn’t played in two weeks, was simply superb, especially after he allowed the game’s first goal by Rangers center Dominic Moore four minutes into the game. That would be New York’s first and only lead of the game. Mason slammed the door on the Rangers for the rest of the night.

“(Mason) played a great game, made some big saves and got some momentum for us when we were playing on our heels a little bit,” said Matt Read, who scored the Flyers first goal in the opening period. “He played a great 60 minutes, he battles in there and he does the right thing. It’s good to see him back and healthy.”

Mason also got help from a tenacious Flyers defense which blocked 14 shots and got physical with the Rangers when they approached the Flyers net. Even when the Flyers lost Nicklas Grossman for the rest of the game with an upper-body injury in the second period, Philadelphia was relentless on defense.

“They did a great job with the blocked shots and the guys picking up the slack after we lost (Grossman),” Mason said. “It’s a big loss. The guy logs a lot of minutes and blocks a lot of shots.

The guys picked up big where he would have left off. Those are the type of efforts come playoff time that you need to be successful.”

A more physical Flyers team came up really big early in the third period when the Rangers had a four-on-three power-play opportunity, but Mason, who had a stick save in that sequence, and the defense successfully killed the penalty.

“Our defense did a good job tonight,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. “I thought they broke the puck out well. They were physical down low. Most of their chances were rushed chances and that’s the just coverage and the neutral zone. Our D battled hard and did what they had to do.”

On the offensive end, the Flyers did just enough scoring to win the game. Voracek’s goal with 12:38 left in the second period turned out to be the winning score. The score happened when he guided in a shot from Braydon Schenn into the goal past Rangers net-minder Henrik Lundqvist.

“I was wide open, Schenn made a good heads up play and I tipped it,” Voracek said.

After the Rangers took a 1-0 lead, the Flyers tied on the game on a goal by Read, who rebounded a shot from Jason Akeson that hit the board behind the Rangers net. Read shot it over the left glove of Lindqvist.

 

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.

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.

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.”

 

 

 

 

Flyers Scoring Slump Continues in Loss to Pittsburgh

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Flyers Forward Wayne Simmonds deflects a shot from Claude Giroux past Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury for the Flyers only goal of the game. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Flyers Forward Wayne Simmonds deflects a shot from Claude Giroux past Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury for the Flyers only goal of the game. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—Coming into Thursday night’s game, Flyers captain Claude Giroux said that a win over the Pittsburgh Penguins would be a turning a point for a Flyers team that is at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division standings.

For a 1-7 Flyers squad, the ability to put the puck in the net on a consistent basis would be the first step to salvage a season that appears to be going nowhere fast.

The Flyers 4-1 loss to the Penguins at the Wells Fargo Center wasn’t what Giroux was hoping for because his team, in spite of its best efforts, simply could not score more than one goal.   It was yet another night of trying to make sense of a scoring slump that seems to have no end in sight.

“I think if we would have won that game, it would have been a big turning point, but it didn’t happen,” Giroux said. “We gotta lot of time to look at tapes and look at what we’re doing wrong. I think if we play 60 minutes, responsible and disciplined about our game, we’ll be fine. We’ll start winning games. It’s just a matter of time. We just need to start believing it before we start playing.”

The good news for the Flyers is that they are off for the next six days and will have some time to figure out a way out of their scoring slump.

“You’ve got to pick your head up and come to work and get ready to play,” said Flyers head coach Craig Berube. “They’re the only guys that are going to dig us out of this hole- the guys in the locker room. They gotta start believing in each other and believe in themselves and playing hockey like they can.”

Meanwhile, Flyers goalie Steve Mason did everything he could to keep the Flyers in the game. He had 32 saves, but allowed three goals. When you’re offense is not scoring, a goalie’s best efforts are not enough.

“It’s not easy right now. We’re struggling to create offense and I’m trying to make the save I need to make and just be patient and eventually, it’ll come,” Mason said. “When you’re only scoring one goal a game, it’s tough to win hockey games. It puts pressure on us in the defensive zone and we’re going have to start creating opportunities to score.”

After a scoreless first period, the Penguins jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Jussin Jokinen on a pass from center Eveni Malkin with 10:17 left in the period. Malkin snatched the puck away from Michael Raffl near the blue line and passed it to Jokinen, who slapped the puck past Mason for the score.

Three minutes later, Penguins forward Chris Kunitz rebounded a shot by Matt Niskanen past Mason for Pittsburgh’s second goal of the period.

In that second period, the Flyers played poorly on both offense and defense. They managed just five shots on goal in the period and just seemed lifeless.

“We were brutal,” said Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds. “We weren’t executing, weren’t getting pucks deep. We turned over pucks in the neutral zone. They’re a good transition team. We couldn’t break the puck out of our zone and they took advantage of that.”

The Flyers finally got on the board on a power play with just two seconds left in the period when Simmonds deflected a shot from Giroux into the Pittsburgh net past goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (24 saves).

That goal the Penguins cut the lead to 2-1 and that’s as close as the Flyers would get because it was back to the salt mines of their never-ending scoring drought. The Flyers managed work harder and had several chances to score, but just came up short

“We score a late goal with three or four seconds left, so we had momentum going in (to the third period),” Simmonds said. “We tried to build on it … But nothing ever came of it.”

On a night when the Flyers held the Penguins to 0-for-4 on the power play, they didn’t put anything together offensively.  When you don’t score, a good offensive team like Pittsburgh is going to put you away. Late in the third, a goal by Sydney Crosby and empty-net goal by Malkin sealed the Flyers fate while sending fans to the exits.