Lately, the Flyers have been trying to finish games right by holding a lead going into the third. This time, they did that starting in the second period.
After establishing a 3-1 lead going into the second period, the Flyers eased off the gas and simply held the Islanders off – which they did just right.
They did it with a combination of defense and the quality play of Sergei Bobrovsky. After bouncing back from an embarrassing performance against the Capitals with a stellar showing against Pittsburgh, questions remained as to which Bob would show up in the days to come.
He answered that with strong saves early and often – none better than a sprawling glove save against Kyle Okposo during a 2-on-1.
To start the game, the Flyers answered the Islanders’ call for a physical game, with back-to-back fights within the opening minute.
With the Flyers’ ready and willing to play along, the Islanders realized that fisticuffs wouldn’t give them the upperhand.
Before they could figure out what would, the Flyers buried them with a pair of goals within 22 seconds of each other.
Jeff Carter put home the first right off the faceoff, and James van Riemsdyk notched his first of the night with a drive to the net, slamming home his own rebound for the 2-0 lead.
The Islanders answered, but JVR denied them a chance at a comeback when he slam dunked a puck off the end boards while goaltender Rick DiPietro stood confused at the other side of the net.
Nearly 40 minutes later, van Riemsdyk put the nail in the coffin with a hat trick goal near the mid-point of the third period.
Throughout the night, JVR combined his skills well. On the first, he proved himself a power forward with a drive to the front of the net; on the second, he reminded kids everywhere why you need to keep your stick on the ice; and on the third he demonstrated his powerful slap shot.
After a pair of games where only part of the Flyers’ game showed up – two shootout losses – it was huge to see a total game from everyone on the ice.
It wasn’t perfect. They could have brought some intensity for more than just the first period. Against the Islanders that wasn’t too bad, but a quality playoff team could steal the game from the Flyers before they could react.
Chances are that the Flyers would be able to maintain that intensity if the nature of the game and the quality of the opponent called for it, but it’s not something to ignore.
Right now, though, things aren’t going too bad for this team – points in nine straight games, and an ever-tightening grip on the East’s first seed.