First intermission. Flyers 2 - Devils 3
How I wish the Flyers had started like this during the last six games. They came out with speed, forechecking and backchecking, and playing a solid all-around game. They spent less time in the penalty box than their opponent. They put pucks on net, and they won battles in the corners.
I know John Stevens wants to instill confidence in Martin Biron. He’s a goaltender who has the capacity within himself to be oustanding. We saw that in the playoffs. But we’re not seeing it now, and frankly, it’s killing this team. The Flyers only allowed a handful of chances to the Devils, and Biron allows weak goals in the first minutes and the last.
Those goals are demoralizing to the team, and that matters more than one netminder right now. These guys need a win to regain their confidence. If Stevens doesn’t think Biron can summon the fire in a hurry, then he’s got to put Niittymaki in net.
On a side note, Steve Eminger bears some responsibility for Zach Parise’s goal in the final moments of the first period. Eminger iced the puck for no apparent reason, which brought the faceoff into the Flyers’ zone. It’s no secret to the players or anyone else that the team has struggled with faceoffs. It was a thoughtless, useless play on Eminger’s part, and it cost his team.
Second intermission. Flyers 4 - Devils 3
Another great period from the Orange and Black. I loved the physicality of the Flyers during this period. Fights aside, the forwards and defenders were aggressive in the corners, taking the body and driving the net. It paid off. Leads are not easy to take away from the New Jersey Devils, even under the best of circumstances.
HUUUUUUUGE save by Marty Biron on former Flyer Dainus Zubrus. I cannot stress it enough - HUUUUUUGE! That type of play gives a goaltender confidence in himself, and by extension, the team confidence in him. It wasn’t a flashy moment, but that’s the little detail that could be the true turning point of a season.
The Flyers need another equally solid, energetic period if they want to leave Newark with a win tonight. And several more impermeable plays from Biron.
End of game. Flyers 6 - Devils 3
It’s always nice to see my Marty B. grab a win over Newark’s Marty B. I mentioned during the second intermission - and Bill Clement said the same thing a few minutes after I posted - that the small stop on Zubrus could become that oft-overlooked moment that truly turns the game around. Biron leveraged that save to launch himself into a well-executed third period. The Flyers spent significant time in their own zone, using good defensive plays and capitalizing on Devils’ errors to win the game - a very satisfying way to win.
And what could be more gratifying than the first win of the season in the Devils’ barn. I remember being 11 years old, watching Martin Brodeur and the Devils surge back from a 3-0 deficit in a playoff series to defeat the Flyers and go on to win the Stanley Cup. I remember watching Scott Stevens deliver the final blow on Eric Lindros. And I remember being in the Wachovia Center the night Martin Brodeur broke Bernie Parent’s record. Let me just say this - I thoroughly enjoy seeing the Orange and Black rise above the Red and Black.
The Flyers and Devils return to the Wachovia Center tomorrow afternoon. I will be at the game, so there will be no in-game blog. Hopefully, we’ll see a similar result.