Sunday, September 23, 2007
Flyers look sharp in 5-0 shutout of Rangers
While the Rangers made some big offseason news on the first day of free agency landing the center duo of Scott Gomez and Chris Drury, the Flyers were making news of their own by revamping their team up front and on the blueline.
If tonight's 5-0 beatdown of the Rangers which featured their two key offensive additions is any indication, then the new look Flyers are going to be heard from this season.
New Flyers such as ex-Sabre Daniel Briere along with former Preds Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen looked sharp as Philadelphia succeeded in shutting down the Ranger offense with plenty of attention to detail.
Sometimes stats are misleading. Despite getting outshot 33-23, the Flyers were in control of this one from almost start to finish capitalizing on sloppy Blueshirt turnovers for most of their goals.
After Sami Kapanen failed on his shorthanded penalty shot against Henrik Lundqvist, he scooped up a Michal Rozsival turnover and roofed one past the Ranger netminder to get the Flyers on the board.
As Tom Renney later indicated in a postgame conference, it was that kind of night for his club which despite having Jaromir Jagr, Petr Prucha, Drury, Gomez, Lundqvist, Rozsival, Fedor Tyutin and Paul Mara struggled mightily with several mishandles leading to transition opportunities for the Flyers.
Blair Betts and enforcer Colton Orr also dressed. Orr had the lone Ranger highlight when he KO'd Jesse Boulerice with one punch using the same right hand which knocked out former Flyer Todd Fedoruk unconscious last season. Orr definitely won some more points from his teammates and Garden supporters who appreciate what he brings to the table.
The problem for the Rangers was that was about it as they couldn't solve Martin Biron who looked like a brick wall in his new jersey (see above). Was it me or did the ex-Sabre resemble the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters in stopping all 19 Ranger shots the first two periods?
And you thought this epidemic was over with. Just look at him! I thought those "formfitting jerseys" were supposed to resolve this issue.
Not only do these new jerseys come apart during fights, they also fall apart literally. Just ask Gomez as his 'A' fell off and had to be sewn back on. You can't make this stuff up.
But hey. Bettman Inc. tested the jerseys. I can see it now. That cool NHL slogan:
New NHL. New Jerseys. Not only do they come apart but they're overpriced!
:as someone can be heard laughing in the background like Jack Nicholson's Joker character in the first Batman: "Care to dance with the Devil in the pale of the moonlight?"
So what else could be said about what was one of the most unwatchable games we've seen? And no. It's not because the Rangers lost. It really was that bad. From all the penalties to the choppy play and whistles, it was very slow and could've put fans to sleep.
Well, the Flyers were sharp. Ex-Ranger and current killer Mike Knuble scored twice. The Rangers were careless with the puck on a Mike Richards goal with a brutal coverage down low. Jagr also turned it over for Knuble's first goal which was one of his patented tip-ins of a Simon Gagne shot who btw was flying all night.
Even agitator Steve Downie got into the act. He beat Hugh Jessiman in a scrap and scored a goal. Not a bad night for the 20 year-old former Philly first round pick. Somewhere, Bobby Clarke was smiling with a bottle of scotch.
So what can concluded other than the Flyers were just superior all night playing their trademark physical brand of hockey down low and using their speed to generate goals?
Well, for starters, Drury's line stunk and was victimized three times at even strength. On Kapanen's goal, his backpass put Rozsival in a tough position and the top defenseman who had his own rough night coughed it up leading to the first goal.
Marcel Hossa was fairly quiet. Prucha on the other hand was more active despite the minus-three and created a few chances. He looked stronger on the puck.
Gomez was teamed with Jagr and Nigel Dawes, who did have a couple of early PP chances on a nice set play where Gomez threaded the needle in the slot and Dawes tried a misdirect tip and rebound but Biron stopped both.
Gomez looked alright. He made some good passes on a couple of power plays and generated some chances. He also missed wide on a chance from close in on a backhand before setting up another which just missed.
Rozsival and rookie Ivan Baranka had tough nights. Fedor Tyutin who also was minus-three looked alright compared to his D partner.
Positives came from Betts along with Hartford duo Hugh Jessiman and Lauri Korpikoski. The pair of former first rounders generated a cycle down low and worked very hard during their shifts. Korp also used his speed to create a break in but his backhand from in tight was kicked away.
Dane Byers had his second straight active game taking rhe body and playing north/south hockey.
Also not making many glaring mistakes on a mistake-prone night was the pair of Thomas Pock and David Liffiton who are fighting for spots.
But this was mostly a Flyers night as most of their regulars dressed and impressed to improve them to 2-1 on the preseason while the Rangers dropped to 1-1.
Things are looking up for Marc Staal and Michael Sauer.
One other random thought: Why the hell would you schedule meaningless exhibition games on a college football Saturday? Only the NHL. But hey. That Hockey Heritage game up in Buffalo will be competing with good college Bowl Games on New Year's Day. You gotta love it.