Friday, April 25, 2008
Flyers Lose Opener to Habs
Sometimes all it takes is a couple of bad breaks, a bad call or two, and before you know it, you've got some adversity to overcome that is not of your own doing.
The Flyers lost an eminently winnable game in La Belle Provence against the Canadiens by a score of 4 - 3 in a game that had to be decided in OT. This was definitely a squandered opportunity, where a couple of questionable calls by the on and off-ice officials definitely played a role in the outcome.
The game started well enough for the Flyers as they grabbed a 2 - 0 lead after the first period on the strength of goals by Jim Dowd and a fluky goal credited to RJ Umberger. The Dowd goal was especially sweet, because it came from the fourth line, which might have been the Flyers' best line all night.
The second period saw the Canadiens warm to the task as they got both goals back to tie the game. The first goal was the result of a horrid neutral zone giveaway by Jeff Carter and a lucky bounce that Andrei Kostitsyn was able to make count. Just before that goal, Kostitsyn was stopped on a penalty shot on a fantastic pad save by Martin Biron, whom I felt played well in defeat.
The second Canadien goal was somewhat controversial in that Alexei Kovalev used a high stick to tap in a goal that was already going into the net and should have never counted. Somehow, the replay officials could not see what everyone else saw in that Kovalev's stick was higher than the cross bar when he made contact with the puck. Furthermore, Kovalev's downward followthrough actually hits the crossbar, confirming that his stick was, in fact, too high. Apparently, the laws of physics do not apply in Canada. Nonetheless, the goal counted. It probably would have gone in anyway and as a Flyers fan, it annoyed me because the Flyers had the power play at the time and to passively allow Montreal to get a shorthanded rush in that situation was simply unacceptable.
The third period opened the right way if you're a Flyers fan. Joffrey Lupul had a puck go in off of his skate to open up a 3 - 2 lead. This is two straight games Lupul has scored in and you hope this is one of those goal scoring streaks we've seen Lupul go through during the regular season, because the Flyers need that go-to guy offensively right now.
I felt that the Flyers were doing a pretty decent job of holding down the fort in the 3rd period and even challenging at times for that 4th goal to salt the game away.
With little over a minute to go, Mike Richards took out Alexei Kovalev on a nice shoulder check that closely resembled a trip because of the way Kovalev fell to the ice. The referee believed that Richards put out his knee to hit Kovalev, but replays conclusively show that Richards' lower body never made contact with Kovalev and that Richards hit Kovalev with a clean shoulder check. This gave Montreal a power play in the last minute of play and, with their goaltender pulled, gave the Habs a 6 on 4 power play.
About 15 seconds later, the Flyers had a defensive zone draw with Jeff Carter facing off against Saku Koivu. Carter had been getting his ass kicked in the face off circle all night and he ended the night winning only 5 of 18 faceoffs. Conversely, Koivu was owning the Flyers in the face off circle, winning 17 of 24. You could almost guess what was going to happen.
Carter went on to lose the face off, breaking his stick in the process. He layed on the ice sprawled out next to the loose puck when Alexei Kovalev collected the puck, and deposited it over Martin Biron's left shoulder to tie the game.
The whole sequence of events was sickening and the game went to overtime, where noted alleged purse thief accomplice and alleged troublemaker Tom Kostopoulos ended the game just 48 seconds into overtime. It almost seemed anti-climactic.
Game 2 is on Saturday at 7pm.
Did you notice?
- Derian Hatcher's bone crunching check on one of the Kostitsyn brothers behind the Flyers' net? I thought Hatcher was going to end that kid's life on that hit.
- Martin Biron stacking the pads towards the end of the first period to maintain the Flyers' 2 - 0 lead? Biron was real good in the first period, but should have had the shorthanded goal that should have never counted.
- Steve Downie played pretty well in his fourth line role. Playing Downie instead of Cote on the fourth line? I wish I had thought of that.
- Mike Richards appeared to get a beer thrown on him in the penalty box. Not to beat a dead horse, but if that happened in Philly, we'd never hear the fucking end of it.
- Was it me or did the Canadiens' players attempt a lot of hits up high, bringing their hands and arms up to the Flyers' faces when they attempt a check? Isn't that roughing? I counted about 5 such hits and then I stopped counting. The only one that got called was the one on Upshall by Mike Komisarek, but there were at least a few others that could have been called.
Photo: AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Ryan Remiorz