Unlucky Bounces, Officiating Down Flyers in 5-2 Loss to SabresBREAKING NEWS, Flyers, News, NHL Sunday, January 20th, 2013
Fatigue is going to be a regular issue with the amount of back-to-back games that the Philadelphia Flyers must contend with in a shortened season. They have the good fortune to have the fourth lowest mileage to travel for road games, but that doesn’t mean much when the schedule pits them to have a 12:30 p.m. start following a 3:00 p.m. start the day before.
The Flyers had difficult finding their legs in both the first and third periods this afternoon against the Sabres, but unlucky bounces in the crease and some dicey goal/non-goal calls from the officials prevented them from earning the win.
Steve Ott opened the official scoring with a powerplay goal in the slot that eluded the Flyers’ penalty killers. The PK was suspect all game, as three of the Sabres’ goals came with the man advantage.
At the 15:41 mark of the first period, Luke Schenn fired a shot from the point that bounced in front of Sabres’ goaltender Ryan Miller and found its way into the net. Ruslan Fedotenko, unfortunately, was called for incidental contact in spite of being outside the crease at the time and with minimal contact at best.
Couturier, who has not played his best hockey in the last six periods, tied the game early in the second period after re-directing a cannon shot from the point by Kurtis Foster.
The Flyers grabbed the lead again thanks to a powerplay goal from Claude Giroux, but two poorly timed penalties from Luke Schenn and Kurtis Foster gave the Sabres a 5-0n-3 advantage
Thomas Vanek, left with ample room at the blue line by Sean Couturier, skated in on Ilya Bryzgalov 1-on-1 and deked him handily.
A third poorly timed penalty from Luke Schenn gave the Sabres another powerplay in the third period. The Sabres were able to bounce the puck off of Kimmo Timonen’s skate, which re-directed past Bryzgalov.
To add insult to injury, a defensive breakdown at the blue-line less than two minutes later was stopped by Bryzgalov, but the puck bounced up in the air and landed right back in the crease. Bryzgalov realized it just a little too late and rookie Cody Hodgson knocked it in with his skate. The goal should have been disallowed, but the officials argued that he touched the puck with his stick prior to it crossing the goal line.
The Flyers pulled Bryzgalov in the waning minutes and managed to score another quick goal. Once again, though, in spite of Miller never covering the loose puck and the puck crossing the goal line before the officials blew the whistle, the “intent to blow” rule was called.
An empty net goal from Vanek sealed the deal.
As with the opening day loss, there are some positives to be taken from the game, but clearly there is much more work to be done. The penalty kill has been asleep at the wheel and the second powerplay unit can’t seem to develop any offensive pressure.
Bryzgalov once again was not the reason the team lost, giving up 4 goals on 40 shots. One or two more saves may have elevated him to “elite,” but he remains an average starting goaltender.
Zac Rinaldo left the game in the first period after receiving a skate cut that had to be attended to.
The Flyers do not play again until Tuesday, when they help the New Jersey Devils open their season at the Prudential Center.
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