Sometimes you make your breaks – other times your breaks make you. More often than not, a team’s play is made up of a little bit of each. That was the case with the Flyers last night in Vancouver, who failed to challenge the Canucks the way the NHL’s number one team should, and their bad bounces came as a result.
The most back-breaking of those bounces came in the opening minute of the third. The Flyers already trailed 4 goals to 1 when Jannik Hansen came 2-on-1 with Daniel Sedin. His pass for Sedin caught the skate of defender Braydon Coburn and slipped past Sergei Bobrovsky untouched, burying the Flyers once and for all. They were to score one more time before Jeff Carter answered to finalize the score at 6-2.
It started in the first period: the Flyers – with no jump in their step – let the Canucks take control of the momentum. Some big saves by Brian Boucher (stopping more than one breakaway opportunity) kept the score tied. Eventually Vancouver broke through with a goal and took the first period lead.
The Flyers’ Sean O’Donnell answered with a fight against Aaron Volpatti in the dying seconds – a desperate attempt to breath life into this team. It proved to be in vain, as two more Vancouver goals in the opening minutes of the second put the Flyers in a 3-0 hole that reached 4-1 by the time the period came to a close. Danny Briere netted the lone Flyers’ goal as he tried to match Ryan Kesler’s pair of tallies.
Sergei Bobrovsky stepped in to replace Brian Boucher after Vancouver’s three goal flurry in the early going of the second, more as a wake up call to the team in front of him than as an indictment of Boucher’s play – he made huge saves and only gave up goals on difficult deflections.
After a lifeless loss against the Florida Panthers back on December 20th, Flyers’ head coach Peter Laviolette made it a point to keep his team focused and energized over their excessive 8 day layoff. He was satisfied with their energy in the team practices here in Vancouver. As it turns out, there’s a difference between practice and the game, and the Flyers may have found that out the hard way.
Another concern with the team in this game was the replacement of Dan Carcillo with Jody Shelley. Shelley contributed little except for a sucker punch on an unsuspecting Andrew Alberts that saw him ejected from the game. In several situations where Shelley could have contributed offensively, his lack of puck handling skills and offensive awareness became readily apparent. Dan Carcillo – while no offensive dynamo – has proven that he can often capitalize when given a chance to score.
The Flyers now have a day off to put this loss behind them before they prepare for back-to-back games in the Los Angeles area – one against the LA Kings and another against the Anaheim Ducks. They round out the Western part of this road trip by traveling to Detroit before coming back East for a home and home series against the New Jersey Devils.
The Flyers need this trip to play out differently than it did last year – with the trip extending a slump and burying the Flyers in the bottom of the standings. This season, with the standings on their side, the pressure is lessened and they should be able to just play their game. And if that doesn’t work, at least they always have two games against New Jersey to come home to.