Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Yeah, I'd Say Those Were Two Pretty Good Investments

Last season, the Flyers inked Mike Richards to a lucrative, long-term contract. This offseason, they made Jeff Carter their biggest offseason priority. So far, both investments are looking pretty damn good, even in this shithole we call an economy.

As we speak, Mike Richards sits behind only teammate Simon Gagne in both shorthanded goals and shorthanded points, and all Jeff Carter is doing is leading the National Hockey League in goals. If you watched last night's game, you know just how valuable these two have been and continue to be for the Flyers. If you didn't watch last night's Flyers-Lightning game, you should kill yourself.

For starters, a slew former Flyers returned to the Wachovia Center, and boy were they ever involved. Rich Tocchet made his first appearance in Philadelphia as a head coach and received a nice applause from the crowd. Who cares if he is a gambling ring leader? A little gambling never hurt anyone.

Anyway, it didn't take long for former fan favorite and perennially tormented Steve Downie to get into things. Downie was making his first appearance for the Lightning, and it just so happened to be against his former team. Well, less than two minutes in, Downie took a vicious run at Kimmo Timonen, an absolute no-no against the Flyers, and promptly got two minutes for tripping and then another two as his former teammate did exactly what a captain is supposed to do, picking up 2 for roughing himself as he tried to get a piece of Downie.

Just as Downie's boneheaded plays cost the Flyers in the playoffs last year, this one cost the Lightning, as Jeff Carter continued to be simply the most potent sniper in the NHL, firing a laser of a wrister past Mike Smith on the ensuing power play.

I mean, damn. Is there any other player in the league you want right now shooting the puck? I know if I had to choose, Carter would be right up there. The man is just playing possessed this year. Oh, and thanks Downie. Finally your stupid antics helped the Flyers.

But the impact of former Flyers didn't end there. Former fan favorite Mark Recchi knotted the score before the end of the period on the power play, as both Smith and Martin Biron were playing strong to keep the scoring in check.

Then, with three and half minutes left in the opening period, Scottie Upshall got called for a 5-minute major on a dangerous boarding hit. He was also hit with a game misconduct, leaving the Flyers down a player for the rest of the night. Now, I have to say that it was a pretty dangerous hit and probably deserved a major, but a game misconduct? No way. Upshall did not leave both his skates and didn't go directly for his head. Either way, it wasn't a smart hit and it hurt the Flyers. Kind of. But not really.

First off, the Flyers' penalty kill has just been ridiculously good this year. Yeah, they gave up a couple goals on the power play last night, but, you know, they also killed off a 5-minute major and took the lead in the third after falling down a man again. That's right, just 36 seconds into the third period, Mike Richards continued to be one of the best penalty killers in all of hockey, making a tremendous play to force the puck out of the zone, an even better play to get past the pinching defenseman, and an incredibly patient move to wait for the lone defender to drop, firing a perfect shot past Smith.

The Flyers now have 10 shorthanded goals, four more than any other team in the league. Just like that, the Flyers led 2-1, thanks to Carter and Richards, and the momentum was with the men in orange. Exactly four minutes later, Carter slammed home another power play goal on the doorstep, and it looked like the Flyers had this one in the bag.

But looks certainly can be deceiving. Just 21 seconds later, another former Flyer, Vaclav Prospal, netted a pop-up goal off Braydon Coburn that found its way into the net. Suddenly, it was a game again with plenty of time left.

That's when Downie showed his good side. With less than 5 minutes to go, Downie got to a loose puck mishandled by Biron, tying the game. Jesus Christ! What a horrible way to give up the lead. And things got seemingly worse when the Flyers gave up a breakaway with little time left and Scott Hartnell lost his damn mind:

Thankfully, Biron stopped Ryan Malone, and the game went to OT. This had the feeling of yet another overtime loss, except, you know, Richards and Carter had other ideas. After Malone botched his chance to become the hero, he became the goat, taking a goaltender interference penalty just 1:24 into the extra session (a questionable call at best, seeing as Sbisa hit him twice on the way, but I'll take it). Seconds later, on the power play, Jeff Carter got the puck to Timonen, who dashed toward the net after playing catch with Richards and made an incredible twirling drop pass that Richards just let fly. Result, goal, game over.

Games like last night's are exactly why hockey is so great. They make me really wonder how people cannot like this sport. It's fast, violent and graceful all at the same time. And last night's 4-3 win had a little bit of everything. There were fights, big hits, game misconducts, plenty of goals, great saves—everything. Hell, even the fourth line for the Flyers played a vital role. Glen Metropolit, Aaron Asham and Riley Cote had a great game, generating a ton of energy and cycling the puck better than any line that hit the ice last night—for either team. It really was an exciting game in every aspect.

Oh, and the best players for the Flyers would not let the team lose. Four goals, two by Carter, two by Richards. Three on the power play, one shorthanded. What more could you ask for?

Update: Due to an excessively busy morning at work, I had no time to scan the Internets really. But now that I have, Mike Richards was awarded Puck Daddy's No. 1 star with honorable mention to Kimmo Timonen and Jeff Carter:

No. 1 star: Mike Richards, Philadelphia Flyers

Richards picked the top corner on Tampa Bay goalie Mike Smith and hit his target in overtime to help the Flyers snap a two-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory. It was the captain's second straight two-goal game and his second in a row with a shorthanded goal, as he won a waiting contest with Smith to make it 2-1 with a shorty early in the third period. As if teams don't have enough to worry about against the Flyers, second in the Eastern Conference in goals scored per game, Richards has more shorthanded goals (15) than any other player since he joined the NHL in 2005-06. The way things unfolded in the final 10 minutes of regulation, this one could easily have landed in the "one that got away" column.

Honorable mention: Kimmo Timonen's set up on Philly's game-winner was something to behold, as he faked a pass to the point, made the defense commit by attacking the net and then fed Richards with a backhander. … Jeff Carter scored twice for the Flyers to tie Thomas Vanek for the league lead in goals with 18.

Always nice to get some dap from the greatest NHL blogger alive.


  1. Seems like the flyers are try to make their run to top of the atlantic division. I want the Rangers and Flyers to be 1-2 in Atlantic standing so that game in April will have a WW3 like atmosphere. I wanna see some fights break out in the stands like Yankees-Gay Sox style.

  2. If you're saying you want me to punch you in face, I'll do it. I mean, I don't want to do it, but if that's what you're saying, who am I to turn that down?

  3. i didn't think you wanted to knock my ass out that badly haha!, But if 2 asshole flyers fans ran up on me to start shit your then saying that you wouldn't jump in to even it up. instead you would watch them double up on me and beat my ass. that's fucked up son ha.

  4. I'm not encouraging it. I don't want to punch you. But, I mean, if you're looking for fights between Flyers and Rangers fans. Ha. And we will be drunk. Just saying.

  5. yes we will probably be "happy" by the time that game is over. but i'm not looking to get punched by anyone ha. but if a couple guys a few rows down start kickin the shit out of each that will be good side entertainment to the game itself. i can only say i would hope that through ur drunkenness you would not try to punch me ha.

  6. fair enough. oh, and there will be a fight or two. You can count on that. But if things escalate, we'll have a fair fight. Me vs. you, my sister vs. your sister, my dad vs. your dad. Sounds even to me.

  7. hmmmm our sisters pretty much cancel each other out that's going nowhere, i can't talk shit about my father in law so i won't comment on that one. the only real attraction would be us ha. i don't know how that would turn out

  8. my guess is a couple of black eyes for both of us and some aches in the morning. yeah, probably better to just call it off.

  9. What the fuck Hartnell...seriously man. If you're going to throw the glove, at least hit him in the face.