One of the many highlights from Thursday's thrilling 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers was a penalty kill in the third period.
No, you didn't read that wrong. The Flyers killing of a 5-on-3 power play that included a four-minute double minor for high sticking and a two-minute penalty for hooking turned out to be the ultimate seal of Philadelphia's first victory of the 2013 season.
(Photo: Max Talbot and Rick Nash fight for the puck. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
The Buffalo Sabres will open their 2013 campaign against the Philadelphia Flyers, who come to town after a 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Can the Flyers spoil the Sabres' party like the Penguins did to theirs?
A slow start turned out to make all the difference for the Flyers.
Two quick goals by Pittsburgh in the first eight minutes of play put the Flyers in a deep enough hole to keep the host team out of the game. The early support was preserved by some great play from Marc Andre Fleury, and the Penguins went on to win, 3-1, to kick off the season.
The NHL is back, and there is no better way to celebrate the return of hockey in Pennsylvania than to have its two bitter rivals battle in the City of Brotherly Love.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will travel to Philadelphia for a 3PM show down at the Wells Fargo Center. The arena will be filled to capacity with nearly 20,000 orange-and-black-clad Flyers fans, with a little yellow sprinkled in the mix.
As hockey fans gear up for the Western and Eastern Conference Finals, a few common themes among the remaining teams resonates: trap style play, tight checking, and a reliance on elite goaltending. Every year after the Stanley Cup is lifted, the champs are analyzed as to why they won, and other teams then spend time scouting youngsters and spend cap space on UFAs that resemble the Cup winning roster. The NHL is definitely a copy cat league. For the past five years, teams have been trying to mimic the style of play of the Red Wings, Penguins, and Blackhawks. After all, why wouldn't want you to copy what wins? But take a look at the puck possession-like teams that are eliminated: Detroit, Chicago, San Jose, Vancouver, Pittsburgh. Both Conference Finals will send shock waves through the NHL, and the Red Wings better be paying attention.
After Mike Babcock's puck possession team lost to the Oilers in '06, their style of play didn't change at the root, however; they were told me be more physical and work harder in the dirty areas. That paid off the next three years by making to the Conference Finals in '07, Winning it all in '08, and coming within 1 goal at a chance to win it all again in '09. Now, it sure seems Red Wing hockey needs to be re-evaluated. Ken Holland and Mike Babcock should be watching every game of the playoffs from here on out. The Western Finals have been settled, and it will feature the Phoenix Coyotes and the LA Kings. These two teams skate hard, trap, are defensively responsible, and heavily rely on their goaltenders to steal games. (By the way, is it not a coincidence that the year Phoenix lets Bryzgalov go they make it this far? He's never been a proven playoff goalie, and probably never will be.) The same goes in the East; The Devils (who are the definition of the trap) are waiting to face either the New York Rangers or the Washington Capitals. The Rangers have consistently been a defensively disciplined team with a couple of decent scoring lines, but overall block tons of shots and make things easy for their world class goalie Henrik Lundquist. The Capitals on the other hand, were born a puck possession team when they inherited forwards Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Semin. Since Dale Hunter took over as head coach, he has somehow got them to play a style of hockey whereby no all-stars are praised, but an entire team can reap rewards from teamwork. Players like Jay Beagle, Matt Hendricks, and Joel Ward are laying their bodies on the line for their coach, and Ovechkin is learning a valuable lesson.