Flyers fall in OT, hold on to Atlantic

By JAY BOEHMER
Senior Hockey Insider — jboehmer@highhopesblog.com
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Thomas Vanek celebrates his game-winning goal in overtime. (Courtesy AP)

After being chewed out by GM Paul Holmgren, the Flyers needed to respond with the kind of intensity that he and everyone else has been asking for. Though they didn’t play a bad game, they didn’t maintain that competitiveness, and it showed with a 4-3 overtime loss.

The Flyers have the talent to be able to bury a team like the Sabres if they play at the top of their game for even a period or two.

Unfortunately, this isn’t something the Flyers are able to do.

After establishing a 1-0 lead in the first, a pair of early second period goals for the Sabres forced the Flyers to play catch-up. But the Flyers proved they could keep pace just as well.

Kris Versteeg and Danny Briere each beat goaltender Jhonas Enroth. Going into the third, Enroth was pulled in favor of Sabres’ star Ryan Miller.

Miller stopped a few shots, but once the Sabres tied the game in the third, each team simply held on until overtime where Buffalo won it.

The Flyers show impressive moments, glimmers of hope, but then return to a game that, while above-average, isn’t the play of a would-be first place team and Cup contender.

Once again, it’s not a case of them not playing a good game, but simply not playing with desperation.

I’ll continue to say it – this team just needs the playoffs to reinvigorate them.

Once the reality of the postseason sets in, they’ll wake up and rediscover the game that carried them to first place earlier this season, or to the Cup Finals last Spring.

If that flip switches early enough, the Flyers will likely make short work of their first round opponent, and perhaps even tear through a potential second round foe – but if it flips even one game too late, they may well be buried in the first round.

It’s a fine line the Flyers are walking here, but they have the kind of team that should be able to handle it. And if they fail to, then maybe they just weren’t cut out for it after all.

Getting the extra point out of this loss ties the Flyers with the Penguins for the Atlantic lead. With Philadelphia holding the tiebreaker, their destiny is in their hands. A win Saturday or a Penguins’ loss, and the Flyers will keep their 2nd seed and face the Sabres or the Canadiens.

Otherwise, they’ll fall to the fourth spot and face the Tampa Bay Lightning.

None of those opponents seem like particularly dangerous ones to a Flyers team at the top of its game, but any of them could take advantage of this team the way it’s currently playing.

Will they flip the switch in time?

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3 Comments

Filed under game recap, Jay Boehmer

3 responses to “Flyers fall in OT, hold on to Atlantic

  1. Todd Colegrove

    I’ll respectfully disagree with your statement that the Flyers have the talent to “bury” a team like the Sabres. The Sabres are a dangerous team right now, some you players have come on strong and the confidence in their game couldn’t be at a more perfect time (Stafford and Gerbe come to mind). Tyler Myers is playing much closer to his form from last year now, than in the first half where he appeared to be asleep and Vanek is hot at the right time too, finally scoring goals. The loss of Leopold hurts, he was rock solid all season, but the Sabres have been playing a much “grittier” brand of hockey lately and with Ryan Miller in goal, this team could really surprise in the post-season. (I have much more confidence with Buffalo’s netminders than Philly’s, for sure.) Imagine if Derek Roy hadn’t been lost earlier in the season…then again, without him some of these youngsters have been giving the opportunity to mature and it’s showing now.

  2. Todd Colegrove

    “young” players (correcting typo in above post).

  3. I’m not trying to dismiss the Sabres – you’re right, they’re a good team that’s playing pretty well this season in spite of a couple key losses. Perhaps “bury” was a bit of a strong word, but my point is that this Flyers team, if it’s playing at the top of its game, could have and should have been able to establish a strong enough lead in the first two periods that this same Flyers team would have no problem holding on to.

    Instead, they lost to a team that, while still dangerous, is a team they should be beating if they’re really the Cup contenders that they and so many others believe them to be.

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