Flyers-Penguins: Flyers Show They Can Hang with the Pens
It's amazing what a timeout and a lot of swearing can do for a team down 3-0 in the second period. I'm referring to Coach John Stevens' 30-second rant to his players last night that seemed to be the turning point for this team.
After the speech, the Flyers went on a tear scoring the next three goals in a row to tie the game. One of those goals was a beautiful breakaway shorthanded goal by the surging Simon Gagne after blocking the initial Penguins shot, then out-skating Evgeni Malikin all the way down the ice to beat Marc Andre-Fleury.
The Flyers showed last night that when they play like an actual team they can hang with the best, and the Pens are in that category. The Flyers lost last night 5-4 in the shoot-out going 0-6, that puts their shoot-out record to a disastrous 8-20 since its inception.
The Flyers, who have scored a league-high eight shorthanded goals, have lost eight straight at Mellon Arena. Also, Penguins rookie Alex Goligoski scored on his first career shoot-out attempt, just some food for thought.
Coach Stevens saw things he liked out there and thought it was a building block.
"I thought we played a really solid hockey game; the four goals we gave up were just mistakes that we can fix," said Stevens. "On the road, you get three out of four points, that's a good thing.
"The unfortunate thing is that we gave them two points and they're a team in our division. It's just self-inflicting wounds right now. Every goal they got, we had the puck."
Stevens is absolutely correct, it seemed as if whenever the Penguins scored it came after a Flyers turnover. This can't continue to happen, and a certain 39 year-old free agent isn't going to help this.
Getting back to Simon Gagne, he has been absolutely on a roll lately. Gagne added his two shorthanded goals to tie the score. It was the third time in club history that the Flyers had two shorthanded goals by the same player in one period—The others were Bill Barber and Brian Propp.
Gagne looks to be back to his old self, even though that sounds weird with him being only 28. With a healthy Gagne, if this team can get it together they can be a threat in the east.
OK, Brendan Shanahan might be able to come in here and do some good things, but I will standby what I said before. He will do no more than what we're getting now from the players we have.
If Shanahan ultimately chooses the Flyers between tonight and tomorrow then I will deal with it. I will accept the fact that GM Paul Holmgren is at least trying once again to shake the foundation of this squad.
If indeed the Flyers are going after Shanahan, they made a little move yesterday to free up some space. Defenseman Lasse Kukkonen was placed on NHL waivers.
If he is assigned to the AHL Phantoms, his $875,000 contract will come off the Flyers' salary cap. With Kukkonen off the books, the available space under the NHL's $57.6 million limit would increase from about $800,000 to $1.675 million.
That would make room for Shanahan, who is believed to be seeking a one-year contract worth about $1.3 million. Shanahan could decide as early as today or Saturday where he will play this season. The Flyers are believed to be at the top of his list, followed by Pittsburgh and Chicago.
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