Finally! Finally I can sit here and say that the Flyers completely destroyed the Penguins in all facets of the game today. The Flyers won an easy one today, 6-3, at the Wachovia Center, and claimed second place in the Atlantic Division with 38 points.
The Flyers were lead by captain Mike Richards, Mike Knuble, and Kimmo Timonen. Timonen set a career high for himself with four power play assists. Knuble added two power play goals, Richards added a goal and a couple assist, and Joffrey Lupul checked in with two goals.
Overall, the Flyers shut down the Penguins; they shut down every star on that squad. Sidney Crosby, who has owned the Flyers since he came into the league, was nowhere to be found. NHL's leading scorer Evgeni Malkin was missing in action.
Philadelphia came into this game with a mission, and they followed through ten-fold. There's nothing more that we could have asked for from this team; they defended their home ice with ease. Oh how sweet it was.
Arguably the hottest team in the NHL, Philadelphia is 12-1-3 in their last 16 games. The Flyers also improved to 7-0-2 in their last nine games at the Wachovia Center and are a perfect 3-0 in their current four-game home-stand.
The Flyers executed almost perfectly on the power play, going 4-6 this afternoon. Philadelphia now has the second-ranked power play in the league. Captain Mike Richards thought the power play work was the key to their success.
"When you create a lot on the power play, you get momentum out of it," said Richards. "It's not just tonight against Pittsburgh, it's every night."
Coach John Stevens was the first to recognize the significance of his club's power play. "I thought we really were aggressive [on the power play]," said Stevens after the game. "When you can take advantage of it like we did, it goes a long way into helping you win the game."
Mike Knuble, whose job is to play around the net, got himself two power play tallies today. Of Knuble's 12 goals this season, six of them are on the special teams.
"That's my job on the power play, to be hanging around the net," said Knuble. "We have smart players that throw the puck in there at the right time and find your stick."
"We have a couple guys like that who are willing to do the dirty work, and Mike got rewarded with a couple of goals tonight," said coach Stevens on Knuble.
The players in the Flyers locker room knew this was a statement game. Now, with the NHL world having watched what this team did against Carolina and what they did this afternoon against the Penguins, the Flyers are now one of the Eastern Conference elite.
Kimmo Timonen, who had a career high four assists, talked a little bit about this season's downs and now sudden success.
"We didn't get the start we wanted this year, but we never stopped believing," Timonen said. "We had meetings and said we have to keep working and things will turn around. The last 15 or 16 games, we're playing as a team very well which is what's important to me," Timonen said.
"Everybody's coming back and we're not giving up much. The first couple games of the season, we gave up too many odd-man rushes and we were too hungry going the other way but not coming back. But now everybody's working both ways."
The Flyers didn't show any lazy play, especially after how rough Thursday's game was against the Hurricanes. This is a "team," and this Flyers squad has the sweet taste of victory, and they love the taste of it.
I think every NHL team should be looking over their shoulders, because this Flyers team is here to stay.
Quick Flyers Notes:
The three-goal win was the Flyers' largest margin of victory at home this season, as 14 of the first 15 games were decided by just one goal. The Flyers have scored first in 11 of their last 14 games.
Philadelphia is 131-73-32-2 all-time against Pittsburgh, including an 89-20-8-2 mark at home. With a goal and an assist on the afternoon, Lupul has 13 points in 11 career games against Pittsburgh (7G, 6A).
Carle returned after missing the last five games with an upper body injury, and had two assists in 21 minutes of ice time. The Flyers are 6-1-3 against the Atlantic Division, with the only regulation loss coming on opening night against the Rangers.