Philadelphia Flyers: Heading Into Break Merry
In a game where the Flyers were supposed to win, they took care of business and beat the Ottawa Senators 6-4 in front of a sold-out Wachovia Center.
The Flyers head into Christmas with a 15-2-4 record in their last 17 games, which is tops in the NHL.
Furthermore, the team has not lost in regulation at home for 12 games. The Flyers are rolling along, but the true test for this team will come during its annual long road trip, which this year starts in Chicago on Friday.
Simon Gagne had the most bizarre goal on the night when all of the Flyers' goals were scored in a somewhat weird circumstance. Gagne took a shot from the left circle, and when it seemed to be slapped in by a falling Mike Knuble, the puck actually took a bounce off the skate of Jason Smith.
"I saw Knuble in front of the net and just tried to hit his blade, maybe I missed and hit one of their skates and it went in," Gagne said after his goal. "Just put it on the net with a lot of traffic in front and you never know what can happen."
Earlier in the game, the Skyline as their called now, Jeff Carter, Joffrey Lupul, and Scott Hartnell, contributed to the win once again. Carter netted his league-leading 26th goal of the year, Lupul deflected in his 13th, and Hartnell added two assists.
In an amazing stat, since the Carter line was put together by coach John Stevens, it has 19 goals and 38 points in eight games—that is the true definition of "hot."
This game also had a lot of firsts for the Flyers' youth. Andreas Nodl scored his first career goal on a deflection from a Kimmo Timonen point shot. Josh Gratton and John Kalinski also added their own sentiments with an assist each.
Personally, it was great to see Nodl notch his first goal, because I have been watching this kid since he was called up and it was a long time coming.
Great for him, he will always remember that one.
"It's real nice to get the first one out of the way," Nodl said after his first goal. "I didn't want to play all season without a goal. But I will always remember this one of course."
The luck just seems to keep going the Flyers' way. They were up 4-2 going into the third, but the Senators fought back and tied the game up 4-4. Coach Stevens reflected on this happenstance.
"Last year, maybe this is a game we lose," Stevens said. "I just see a lot of guys that want to be on the ice and want you to call their name and think they can make a difference."
"A lot of our young guys have matured very well, and we've got a really strong veteran presence that can bring a sense of calm in those situations."
Matt Carle also put one in the net for the Flyers. Carle was one of six Flyers to score a goal. Captain Mike Richards, who has been playing great lately, was actually scoreless in his last three. He put the game away with an empty net goal with only 10 seconds to go.
This was a game where the Flyers deserved the two points. They can take this win into the Christmas break and get some rest. They will need to prepare for the Blackhawks on Friday, and the next five road games after that.
Luca Sbisa was benched for last night's game for arriving late to practice. Sbisa supposedly overslept. Coach Stevens talked about his young defensemen.
"I think he got a new cell phone and forgot to set his alarm on it, its a moment he won't soon forget, but he won't ever do it again, its all part of growing up," Stevens said.
Marty Biron will be back Friday against the Blackhawks. Biron served as Niittymaki's backup last night, but John Stevens wanted to give Biron an extra night to recoup. Biron lost around eight pounds while dealing with the flu the past week.
Simon Gagne and Mike Richards are 11th and 12th, respectively, in All Star voting for Eastern Conference forwards. Carter, who is not on the ballot but leads the league in goals, is 25th as a write-in candidate.
Defenseman Kimmo Timonen (seventh) and Biron (sixth), are in the top 10 at their positions. Entering last night, Timonen, known for his staunch defense, was tied for fifth in the league and third in the Eastern Conference in points among defensemen, with 23.
Finally, Merry Christmas to all of the writers on Bleacher Report and their families.
Realize what all of you have and take a step back to think of the less fortunate. This is time to love and care for the ones close to us.
All those married ones out there, I'm sorry about the in-laws.
But hey, at least you get a gift from them.
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