The Flyers had a lot to overcome in order to pick up their
first points in the standings of the season on Sunday. They had to play on the
road roughly 18 hours removed from their first game of the season. They had
another flat first period that found them behind 1-0 coming out of the
Then there were the six power plays they gave the Sabres, of
which they scored on three of to key a 5-2 victory in their home opener. Philadelphia drops to 0-2-0.
There is no doubt that the Flyers’ penalty killing unit share a lot
of the responsibility in both losses, as they have allowed opponents to convert
on five of nine chances (55.6%). However, one must wonder what might have been
in Buffalo were it not for a series of downright terrible calls by the officiating
crew, specifically the two that wiped goals off the board.
The first bad call came late in the opening frame, right as
the Flyers were finally starting to get their legs in under them. Down 1-0,
Luke Schenn ripped a wicked slapper off of netminder Ryan Miller, who left the
puck sitting right on his front porch. As Miller tried to poke it away, Ruslan
Fedotenko came crashing into the play, sending the disk wobbling through the
air and into the goal.
But Fedotenko bumped Miller ever so slightly in performing
this action, while the goalie – whether out of embellishment or desperation –
slid backward into his own net. This apparently was enough to warrant a
goaltender interference call, and the score was waved off.
It was an obviously blown call upon second look. Miller was
barely breathed on, let alone interfered with, and Fedotenko wasn’t even in the crease or anything like that,
yet a goal was erased.
It would not be the last.
The Flyers did take a 2-1 lead
early in the second period, but were unable to stay out of the penalty box, and
eventually the game started to get away from them. It was 4-2 with under two
minutes remaining in the third when head coach Peter Laviolette pulled Ilya
Bryzgalov for an extra skater – also when the men in the striped shirts would
Sean Couturier won the faceoff, and the Flyers succeeded in generating some instant pressure with an extra man. After a couple quick passes to create some space, Claude Giroux snapped the puck on net, it hit Scott Hartnell in front, and Wayne Simmonds sort of jabbed it toward the goal.
Once again Miller was unable to control, only
this time he wasn’t exactly sure of where it was. He thought the puck was
covered, but it was actually trickling into the net as chaos ensued in front of
him. This was all too much for the referee, who from a far side angle –
his vision blocked – whistled the play dead just as the biscuit was crossing
the goal line.
What could’ve been a 4-3 or even 4-4 game heading to
overtime remained a hopeless two-goal deficit, which seconds later grew to
three on an empty netter.
There were other plays where we could perhaps be critical of
the officials, though those might be nitpicking. There is absolutely no denying
they had a direct role in costing the Flyers tallies on these two particular plays
As we mentioned at the top, the loss can’t entirely be
blamed on those non-goals. Bryzgalov had practically no chance on two of the
three power-play goals, one of which appeared to deflect off of Kimmo Timonen’s
skate. Another occurred when a shift change went awry leading to a breakaway at the end of a 5-on-3. Schenn was notably in the box for two of
these, as well as a 4-on-4.
That said, in a short season where every point matters that
much more, it’s hard to watch one slip away in part because a third
party got involved. Would have been nice to see how things played out had every goal actually