In a game that had as much buildup as an Ali- Frazier matchup, you might have been a little dissappointed in the actual battles that took place. With Mike Richards wearing a target on his sweater and memories of David Booth on their minds, the Florida Panthers kept their cool and beat the Flyers where it counts. On the scoreboard, earning the much needed two points.
The fighting that was anticipated was pretty much handled early as Soup and Ian Laperriere fought early in the first. Not much of a fight with little punches thrown, but it started some of the release of aggression. Later captain Bryan McCabe challenged Flyer captain Mike Richards to a tilt and Richards obliged. Again, not much of a tussle and more like a bad waltz. Finally Mike Duco of the Panthers and Ian Laperriere went at it. The second bought of the night for LaPerriere, and it looked like another couple that missed out on Arthur Murray’s dancing lessons.
Ok, now with that out of the way let’s get to the good stuff.
The Panthers came out with some fire in their eyes and controlled the game with as much discipline as they could. The Flyers offensively were really no match as Florida’s top line of Weiss, Horton and Frolik combined for nine points. A career night for Weiss who had one goal and three assists for four points. His first four point night of his illustrious career. Horton had two points on two goals and Michael Frolik, apparently removing the sophmore jinx responded with three points of his own on a goal and two assists. This line has combined for 34 points over the last seven games. Yikes!
Of Florida’s goals, three were on the power play! They looked quick, played smart and stayed within themselves (whatever the hell that means). Actually credit should go to Pete DeBoer for a solid game plan. Whatever he said or didn’t say worked as there was alot of chatter about this game and expectations of revenge were all over the NHL. Can’t remember the last time a Panther game generated so much talk. Nice though that they did it the right way and won the tough battles when needed, but mostly because they earned the two points without the game getting ugly.
Big Mac who was brought up for “protection” had two minutes of ice time and one shot on goal. Mike Duco also brought up for the same reason and also a bit of energy, had alittle over six minutes of ice time including five minutes in penalties.
Flyer goaltender Brian Boucher left in the second period with what seemed to be a hand injury and was replaced by former Hurricane and Blackhawk Michael Leighton. Leighton gave up two goals in his relief appearance.
The Flyers looked somewhat reserved, or timid most of the game and didn’t muster too much offense and finally broke the shutout with Braydon Cobourn scoring in the third. No worries this time as it didn’t appear that the lead was in danger.
Still in a playoff spot as Montreal is chasing us. Off to New York on Wednesday and I assume the roster will stay as it is with the Rangers sporting Brashear and Aaron Voros. The Bruins on Sunday and on New Years Eve, Uncle Jack brings the Montreal Canadiens to the Bank Atlantic Center for his first visit back since leaving. Should be a hell of a few games.
Thanks for reading.