Written By: Mark "The Hard Hitter" Ritter
Entering their matchup on Wednesday, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Toronto Maple Leafs were only separated by two points in the standings. Considering that, one would have thought that the Flyers and Leafs were in for a close, hard fought game tonight.
As fate would have it, nothing could be farther from the truth as the Flyers routed the Leafs by a score of 6-2. Daniel Briere scored twice for the Flyers, with Mike Richards, Dan Carcillo— who scored a beauty, Danny Syvret, and rookie James Van Riemsdyk all netting goals.
It was a chippy affair at the Wachovia Center, with the Flyers and Leafs engaging in four fights on the night. That said, for the Leafs, it was yet another night of misdirected aggression, as all the fighting did absolutely nothing to change the complexion of the game.
The Flyers dominated the Leafs all night and were red hot on the power play, going three for six.
The Flyers dictated the pace of the game all night, and were seemingly in the Leafs' heads, frustrating them both on the ice and on the scoreboard. It was clear the Flyers were dominating the Leafs right form the get-go, as witnessed by their 4-0 lead by 1:22 of the third period.
To be honest, despite a surge in the third period where the Leafs scored two goals in 51 seconds, the Leafs were never in this contest. And while the Leafs did score two goals in 51 seconds, they also gave up a goal to the Flyers in between—the old “two steps forward, two steps back” credo.
Leafs goaltender Jonas Gustavsson battled hard all night, but struggled to find his groove. The three power play goals didn’t help matters, and the Leafs defense looked very shaky all night. That said, Gustavsson was off and it showed.
At the other end of the rink, Flyers goaltender Michael Leighton was solid in between the pipes, stopping 30 of 32 shots and slamming the door on the Leafs in the second period, a period in which the Leafs had 14 shots on net.
In the end the Leafs' undisciplined play cost them the game. That said, the Flyers were full value for the win and can now use this victory as a building block to get themselves back into playoff contention.
Next up, the Flyers take on the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Igloo. Pittsburgh owns a record of 4-6-0 in their past 10 games and they own the worst power play in the NHL.
On the surface, it would seem as if the Penguins are ripe for the picking. A win against the Pens could do wonders for the Flyers' shaky confidence, not to mention the two points, which the Flyers badly need.
The Flyers are zero for three against the Penguins this season, including back-to-back losses in December of 6-1 and a 3-2 overtime loss. Clearly the Penguins have the Flyers number this season, so the Flyers better bring the “A” game.
The Leafs will take on the surging Buffalo Sabres on Friday night. The Sabres have a record of 7-1-2 in their past 10 games and have won five straight. The Leafs lost 3-2 in overtime to the Sabres the last time out and probably deserved a better fate. On the season, the Leafs are zero for four against the Sabres.
Until next time,