It's often said that a tie is like kissing your sister. I'm not sure who came up with that nor what his relationship with his sister was, nor what simile he'd come up with for a shootout loss. Personally, I think I've gone numb to them.
The Flyers are so amazingly bad at both ends of them that once the overtime horn has sounded, they might as well send the Mites on Ice back out there. Tuesday night was no different, with Ilya Bryzgalov and Evgeni Nabokov posting dueling shutouts through regulation and the OT, after which Bryz surrendered goals on back-to-back Isles attempts and his shooters were unable to score even one.
Who's up for a recap of a scoreless hockey game…? Right this way, Miranda Kerr and colleagues…
After a pair of weekend losses, the Flyers came out firing early and often. They outplayed the Islanders for much of the night, able to do everything but beat Nabokov (admittedly an important shortcoming). In terms of what they could change or improve upon from this one, I'm not sure there was much. Despite the loss, this was their best effort in four games against the Isles this season.
They did have some sloppy play requiring goaltending bailout, and Bryz was up to the challenge throughout. Despite the OTL/SOL (and a poor shootout showing), Bryz did notch a shutout on the night, his second of the season and 25th of his career.
He didn't have to face nearly as much rubber as Nabokov though. Nabby turned aside 45 shots, and he's now let up only one goal in 85 shots over the Isles' last two games against the Flyers. Bryz only had to stop 18, but some were pretty dangerous.
Claude Giroux played an excellent game, but his stick remains snakebitten. He failed to get good wood on a few golden opportunities, continuing a stretch that has seen him miss some open nets as well. The good news is, a player that good won't stay cold for long, and these opportunities will go his way soon. G's effort was undoubtedly where it needs to be, never more evident than in his forechecking throughout.
One area the Flyers may need to work on is taking away the opposing goalie's comfort zone. They took 86 shots, 45 finding the net, but Nabokov seemed to have plenty of room to make almost all of them. As it became increasingly clear that Nabby wasn't going to let anything straightforward in, I was surprised the Flyers didn't do more crease crashing or at least crowding. In a close game, I guess they just didn't want to give up any power plays to the league's 6th best unit.
The PECO Penalty Kill?
How about that PK unit? They came to play tonight, at times looking more dangerous than a well-oiled power play. Giroux and Max Talbot would have notched the game-winner while down a man had it not been for a huge Nabokov save.
Shootouts Only Count in Horseshoes and the Regular Season
Yes the Flyers absolutely suck in the shootout, but unless they miss the playoffs entirely, which doesn't seem likely, it's really not a big deal. They do away with this bullshit when the postseason begins, so contrary to popular belief, maybe they shouldn't be spending that much time and energy trying to improve on their performance in it. It's not like they don't already practice breakaways, both shooters and goalies… I'm not sure what else they can do. Some fans are starting to blame Lavvy, but what can he do? Switch to a cold Sergei Bobrovsky? Put on Bryz's Winter Classic pads during the OT and take over?
Tonight, he tried to switch things up to no avail, electing to shoot second and having Wayne Simmonds go before Giroux. Simmonds has been hot lately, and G's battling a forcefield in front of the opposing net. His goalie overcommitted on the first Isles attempt, and both of his shooters did the same.
Raise and Reward
Before the game, Frans Nielsen agreed to an extension to stay with the Islanders. Fitting that he scored the winner in the shootout…
The Isles have now won back-to-back games in Philly after having gone winless here since April 2007.
Simmonds saw his scoring streak snapped at three games, during which he posted four goals. That may have factored into Lavvy's decision to use Simmonds as his second skater, even before Giroux. Simmonds doing his best #hartnelldown may see him watching the next one.
The Flyers have lost three games in a row for the first time this season.