|This actually pains me to put Pronger front and centre (Getty Images)|
As biased as this should be, I’m going to take some time to rip on my team real quick.
The Flyers, coming off of an emotional banner-raising in South Philly and yet another standing ovation for Ian Laperriere (thanks Avs, also, sad face), the Flyers came out to a roaring start.
They used their physicality really well, did something offensively, and got some early saves from resident new guy Sergei Bobrovsky. The Flyers forced the Avs to cycle up high and create a few mistakes. First it was Mike Richards that was robbed shorthanded. Then Richards made a deft pass to Claude Giroux for his beauty of a second goal that easily trumped his first goal in Pittsburgh. Then it was Carter right after a penalty kill with his patented forehand-backhand deke that beat Craig Anderson.
But the Flyers got way too content with that 2-0 lead. For a time the Flyers were all over the place—then they stopped. It reminded me a lot of the midway point of last year when the Flyers seemed to give up at points during the game. The other team would find a way to start really working hard, and make the game a real tightrope walk. Do the Flyers have a case of hubris?
The Avs started to really work hard and show the Flyers they were not done. Their forecheck forced the mistake-prone Scott Hartnell to turn the puck over, and Brandon Yip picked a corner for his beauty of a first goal of the season. Then Milan Hejduk may have gotten a little lucky, finding a slight hole through Bobrovsky to tie it up.
It didn’t take long to realize—wow, the Flyers are giving the Avs this game. Nothing was working offensively, the defense was rimming the puck around to nobody, and the powerplay was absolutely atrocious. The Flyers were doing nothing to win this game—the Avs were.
Then it took a bit of luck for the Flyers’ Jeff Carter to backhand the puck past a clearly unready Craig Anderson, who was good in this game tonight, to give them the lead. Darroll Powe, whose speed is a marvel, beat a defender for the empty netter, and that was the hockey game.
The positives? Sergei Bobrovsky does not crack under pressure. He is a goalie that has serious star power in the future. Interestingly enough, he may have given up that bad goal, and at one point, I wondered if that would rattle him. But he bounced right back and made some seriously awesome saves. He is always square, and he is quick to react to pucks going to corners. He is quickly showing he’s the real deal. And not James Neal (I know, I should stop using this corny joke).
Also, the Flyers showed what they could do when they are at their aggressive and relentless best. They only made the Stanley Cup Finals last season, so they had to be good at something. (Pronger being a douche?) So if this is just early-season jitters, I’ll forgive them. But if I see this in mid-season, I’m sure I won’t be the only one getting angry.
Negatives? Nikolai—excuse me, Nikolay Zherdev was nonexistent out there. Made some stupid plays, and wasn’t exactly great tonight. The Flyers let the Avs back in this game, and it goes back to playing an entire 60 minutes. (Ed. Note - Welcome to what Avs fans refer to as 'the third period')
But credit the Avs on being a really opportunistic team with a lot of promise this season. So I’m glad the Flyers were able to fight through this game against a really tough team. It’s time for the Flyers to get their stuff in gear because the schedule certainly doesn’t get any easier.
I know, positive, right? I’m brimming with optimism.