Flyers Squander Epic Bryzgalov Peformance in 4-1 Game Two LossBREAKING NEWS, Flyers, News, NHL Tuesday, May 1st, 2012
Matt Read scored for the Philadelphia Flyers just 2:53 into the first period of Game Two against the New Jersey Devils. Fans and media alike gushed over the forward depth that the Flyers are capable of rolling between all four lines. In spite of being outshot 13-9, the Flyers appeared to have things under control.
Then the rest of the game happened.
The offense became complacent with the one goal lead and were unable to generate anything resembling offensive effort until there were less than two minutes left in the second period, at which point they registered their first shot on goal.
As if a switch had flipped, the offensive became completely invisible while Ilya Bryzgalov had the performance of a lifetime. Bryzgalov stood on his head, and looked to steal this win for the Flyers in spite of the 25-11 shot margin.
By the time rookie defenseman Adam Larsson scored the game tying goal in the third period (his first NHL playoff goal in his first NHL playoff appearance), it seemed like an inevitability that the Devils would eventually hit the back of the net.
Without any kind of support from the forwards, the Flyers’ defense fell apart as well. Braydon Coburn and Nicklas Grossmann both went after the same player at the 11:15 mark, leaving Zach Parise wide open in front of the net. David Clarkson scored the game winning goal in the ensuing scramble.
Andreas Lilja and Erik Gustafsson miscommunicated on a third goal by Travis Zajac, although they may have thought that Danny Briere was going to do more than stand around in the crease.
Bryce Salvador scored an empty netter while Peter Laviolette tried to take advantage of a late-game powerplay.
Blame for the loss can’t be placed solely at Briere’s feet, but he was arguably the most noticeable forward to coast in the latter 40 minutes. He was on the ice for three of the four unanswered goals in the third period. Laviolette opted to use him during the 4-on-4 situation in which Larsson scored, hoping that his offense would outweigh his lack of defense.
I stated before Game One that the Flyers would lose this series if they fell into the ‘Pittsburgh trap’ of believing the series was won before it began. I can only speculate why the team was on its heels for so much of the game, but it appeared as if they thought they had it in the bag and didn’t have an answer for the desperation that the Devils skated with.
It’s just one game, and the weakest area of the team in previous games- goaltending- was remarkable. The team needs to forget this mess and get back to square one.
At the other end of the ice, goaltender Martin Brodeur was losing his composure early, trying to pick fights when the offense buzzed around the crease. It looked as if the Flyers would be able to get him off his game if they continued applying pressure. Brodeur’s not one to be easily rattled, though, and the win will set the Flyers back as far as getting into his head.
On a positive note, give Eric Wellwood a ton of credit. He led the team with four shots (all during the first period) and was one of the best forwards on the ice, despite playing fewer minutes than any other forward on the team. His ice time actually went down from Game One by a minute. Wellwood, as one of the better defensive players on the team, deserves more time moving forward.
Puck drop for Game Three is set for Thursday at the Prudential Center in Newark.
For the latest Flyers news and updates, you can follow me on twitter (@JoshJanet).
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