April 29, 2012
Snapshots: Tardy Flyers not a surprise
By Rob Longley, QMI AGENCY
Did they not watch the first round?
From Twitter to NBC to CBC there was alarm and surprise at the Flyers tardy start to Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal Sunday afternoon against the New Jersey Devils.
No shots in the first 10 minutes, they must be rusty. Down 1-0 and at one point being out shot 9-0, series is as good as over.
The sense of concern was a tad misplaced given that in three of their four wins over the Penguins in Round 1, the Flyers trailed early. And no game was worse than the 3-0 hole in Game 1 of that series.
Once the commentary calmed down, the flow reversed and before you knew it, other than goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, the Flyers were dominating. The Devils put up 11 shots in the first 10 minutes, the same number they had in the next 52.
If it were not for two soft goals that went between Bryzgalov’s legs, overtime wouldn’t have even been necessary.
In reality, the concern probably shouldn’t have been about whatever rust was on the Flyers after a week off, but how labouring during a physical seven-game series against the Florida Panthers was going to affect the old men on the Devils.
The Flyers learned quickly that the power play, which essentially killed the Penguins in the first round, is going to meet much more resistance against the Devils. Philly barely had a sniff on a pair of first-period power plays and scored just once on six attempts in the game ... The longer the Flyers go, the more you have to figure James van Riemsdyk becomes a factor as he works his way back up to game speed. Van Reimsdyk had a goal on Sunday, was robbed by Marty Brodeur on a breakaway and finished the night a plus-three ... And it was van Riemsdyk that was parked in front of Brodeur for a screen and a bump that led to the OT winner by Danny Briere, his fourth career playoff overtime goal ... Can Devils coach Peter DeBoer trust Marek Zidlicky? By one count the New Jersey defenceman made no fewer than four major blunders in OT ... With all the talk about shots on goal, several NHL coaches will tell you it is one of the more overrated stats in the game. The Coyotes aren’t about to argue. Prior to Sunday’s Game 2, Phoenix had been outshot 283-183 in the Playoffs, but scored six more goals than the opposition and had a record of 5-2 ... Paging Alexander Radulov. The Predators are going to need the celebrated to be an asset rather than a liability in a hurry if they are to be a factor in the series.
The ownership and indifferent fan base for all but the playoffs aside, there’s plenty to like about the Coyotes. The more you watch them, the more you realize they may be around for a while. On Sunday, it was the relentless forechecking that impressed the most, that and the toughness on every loose puck. It all starts with coach Dave Tippett. After spending a few days around the team in Round 1, it became apparent that the players relate to him and buy into his rigid demands ... Best thing that could have happened to the ‘Yotes may have been that poor third period in Game 1. They steal the win but Tippett has plenty to get after them about and they respond with 34 shots and a 4-2 lead after two periods ... Back to the Philly-N.J. series, this from our pal @DNFlyers on Twitter: “Safe to say that Bryzgalov is not the reason the NHL instituted the trapezoid.” The Flyers look impressive so far, but with the inconsistent Bryzgalov it’s going to be a ride. Goals two and three by the Devils were killer soft. Against the Penguins, remember, the Bryz had a miserable 4.30 goals against average and .856 save percentage ... Then again, usually reliable puckhandler Brodeur goofed badly with a poor clearing attempt on Briere’s first goal.
Logical call by CBC to stick with the Eastern Conference games, essentially for the earlier start times. Hurt them on Saturday, though, when they didn’t have a game in the usual Hockey Night In Canada slot ... There are probably some P.J. Stock fans out there but that number surely went down in the first intermission when the CBC analyst blamed the crowd at the Wells Fargo Center for the Flyers slow start. Odd ... on Saturday’s Coach’s Corner, Don Cherry couldn’t resist a thinly-veiled shot at Leafs GM Brian Burke by showing a montage of big playoff goals by Ontario-born players. Might soon be time for Grapes to find a new cause ... Sure looked like the Devils got a gift when Matt Carle was nailed for a phantom hook late in the second when back-checking Devils forward, Adam Henrique. Classic case of the official calling what he was anticipated was going to happen and it led to Travis Zajac’s tieing goal ... Refs got it right in OT, however, when they called back Briere’s first apparent winner which was a clear kick ... This stat line won’t work well for the Devils - Ilya Kovalchuk had 21 minutes and 20 seconds ice time and zero shots on net.