Broad Street Bounce:
It always feels like a cop out to blame luck for a defeat but from the start of the game last night, it seemed like the cosmos had it out for the Panthers. Maybe the hockey gods felt bad for the Flyers and wanted to give new head coach Craig Berube a win in his first game, or maybe Tim Thomas spent last winter traveling to frozen ponds in Colorado Springs and melting the ice with a blow torch. Whatever it was, puck luck was certainly on the side of the Flyers. This was evident in Philly’s only two goals both of which were the result of wonky bounces off the end boards.
Here are the goals, I’ll let you make the call:
As predicted both teams played last night with a little bit of fire in their bellies. That fire resulted in more than a few chippy exchanges. Flyers’ agitator Zac Rinaldo took at run at Drew Shore in the first period and that was just the start. In the third period, the league’s leader in hits jumped Tomas Kopecky from behind in front of the Panthers bench after play had long been blown dead. This caused Flyer Jay Rosehill, who was already on his way to the penalty box, to charge over and get involved in the fracas. This resulted in a four-minute power play for the Panthers. Things could have been worse for the Flyers but somehow Kopecky received a penalty for his involvement with Rinaldo even though all Kopecky did was defend himself after getting jumped. All-in-all, what could have been a Panthers 5-on-3 turned into a Panthers four minute 5-on-4 which they failed to convert.
After one game, the Flyers seem to be adopting the identity of new coach Craig Berube who racked up the seventh most penalty minutes in NHL history during his career.
The Panthers were not completely innocent either. In the third period, Erik Gudbranson received a five minute major and ten minute game misconduct for boarding when he took down Scotty Hartnell. Gudbranson’s hit did not seem malicious but Hartnell went face first into the boards and stayed down on the ice. It was a tough play for Gudbranson and a borderline call for the refs. Gudbranson did not hit Hartnell particularly hard but Hartnell was in that danger zone, a couple feet from the boards with his back turned toward Gudbranson.
Man Down Dynamo
Shawn Matthias demonstrated again last night why he is one of the best penalty-killer on the Panthers. Matthias generated a short-handed breakaway in the second period when he tipped the puck past Kimmo Timonen in the Panthers defensive zone. After that Matthias was off to the races but unfortunately he was unable to get the puck past Steve Mason. Matthias had perhaps the best shorthanded goal of last season, his brilliant solo-effort against the Bruins, and he proved again last night that he is always a threat to score shorthanded.
This and That
- If one thing can be singled out for the Panthers 1-2 start it is their inability to score on the power play. Florida went 0-5 last night with the man-advantage and they are now 0-16 on the season.
- It was too good to be true that Tim Thomas would come back after a year off and instantly regain his Vezina level form. Thomas’ injury last night came on an innocuous play. It was the type of injury you sustain when you are 39 and trying to return to professional sports after taking a year off.
- The Panthers played well enough to pick up at least a point last night against Philadelphia. After the game Kevin Dineen acknowledged that he was happy with how his team played but the next step is figuring out a way to win these kind of games:
There’s always different ways to look at a game. At the end of it, we’re not displeased with the way we played but you don’t win the game and we need to find a way to finish those off and turn those momentum pushes into some offense and eventually that turns into points..