Flyers-Leafs: Martin Biron, Mike Richards Help Philly Continue Home Dominance

Chris DiFrancescoAnalyst IJanuary 11, 2009

Entering their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night, the Philadelphia Flyers were 11-0-2 in their last 13 games in the Wachovia Center.
When the clock read 0:00, their record extended.

In a matchup against a dismal Toronto team, the Flyers dominated play on the ice and defeated the Maple Leafs 4-1. The Flyers were led by snubbed all-star Mike Richards and goaltender Martin Biron, who were the dynamic duo on the ice for three periods.

Richards, who posted a first period power-play goal, was anywhere and everywhere on the ice. Jeff Carter, the only Flyer to earn a nod for the NHL All-Star game, netted his league-leading 28th and 29th goals of the year.

In addition, Biron made 41 saves—many eye-popping—as he led his club to their eighth straight victory on home ice.

"The coaches get the matchups they want at home and we feed off the crowd's energy," Richards said. "It's more comfortable when you have 20,000 people cheering for you and it's intimidating for the other team that's coming in and trying to stay out of the box."

The Flyers' last loss at the Wachovia Center was on Nov. 8 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Head coach John Stevens believes that that statistic is one of the biggest gains for a club that has disappointed Flyers fans in previous seasons.

“[Winning on home ice] was one area we wanted to get better at this year,” Stevens said. “We struggled at home for a period of time last year and then got it going at the end. I think our guys love playing at home. They like being in this building. They certainly enjoy playing in front of their fans.”

Another area where the Flyers have improved is the power play. With Richards’ goal, the Flyers have a mentality that they can frighten the other team and hopefully put points on the board.

“We had the same kind of feeling last year with knowing that if you get a chance on the power play, it’s intimidating for the other team,” Richards said. “They’re coming in here trying to shut the power play down and trying to stay out of the box. You capitalize on your chances. It’s just a big confidence boost and the penalty kill was good tonight too. When the special teams are going, we’re a dangerous team.”

Biron’s performance on the ice was also another reason that the Flyers are pushing for the playoffs. Even though the Flyers were outshot 42-30, Biron put on a show between the pipes.

“I'm seeing the shots and the guys are doing a great job of boxing them out and allowing me to square up to one guy, one-on-one, and that makes it easier,” he said.

With the win, the Flyers are now one-point ahead of the New York Rangers, who defeated the Ottawa Senators earlier that evening. The Rangers are currently first in the Atlantic Division with a 23-10-9 record for 55 points.