Tonight's Flyers-Leafs guest gamer is by Flyers Goal Scored By:
All is not well in the land of Crab Fries. A team that started the season with very consistent efforts look to be mired in a 2012 slump. Ever since the new year baby slewfooted Father Time, it's been slow goings for your Flyers. Good games followed by bad games that begot good games. This week the see-saw has been stuck in the "derp" position, seeing Philly lose three games in a row for the first time all season. Tonight a familiar foe is in town to hopefully kickstart the Flyers winning ways and carry them into yet another important weekend.
Flyers Leafs games are always good drinking weather.
Two fast, young teams that'll have the action going back and forth all night. Talented scorers, brain farts and animosity are usually the 3 stars of these tilts. Play will get chippy early on, that will hopefully keep the Flyers intensity level high for the full sixty. The last time these two teams played, Chris Pronger was lost due to an inadvertent stick to the eye by the Leafs Mikhail Grabovski. This past Wednesday, injured captain Chris Pronger met with his team for the first time since Christmas. Coincidence or not, seeing the Prongs will hopefully pump the Flyers tires a bit. Either way, Brian Burke should feel so sorry about what happened to Pronger, he should just send Luke Schenn to Philly for a bucket of soft pretzels from Woodhaven Road.
Toronto has a stud line that brings together the Uncle Fester of American hockey with ex-Flyer Joffrey "don't call me a Lannister" Lupul. Kessel and Lupul rank number 4 and 6 respectively in terms of scoring this year. Kessel is a big time threat on the rush and the Flyers will need a strong back check to neutralize Phil's skills.
One interesting subplot to this game, and to every game against the Leafs this year, is the brothers Schenn battling each other. Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn has struggled a bit this year, but is still a contributor to the Leaves blueline. There have been rumors of Burke shopping Schenn around at the deadline, and if the price is right, he'd be a nice 4th or 5th defenceman for the Flyers. Philadelphia's Brayden Schenn is one of a few bright spots so far in 2012. Dude's playing like a man and has gelled quickly with Wayne Simmonds on the second line. He was arguably the most dominant Flyer against both the Devils and Rangers this past weekend. Schenn has been very physical on the forecheck which could pay off well tonight. In regards to Luke Schenn, one thing is for sure: don't expect him to get any….brotherly love tonight! *drops microphone*
Your goalie matchup is Bobrovsky vs. James "Optimus Reim" Reimer. Bryz is sick, and If he can't backup The Bobcat, look for Phantoms goalie Jason Bacashascashihua(spellcheck?) to ride the pine. Reimer is legit, but beatable. He can make some miraculous saves, but often gets hung out to dry by his defense.
Your marquee fight of the night is Toronto's Mike Brown vs. The Double Burrito Tito Sestito. Brown can toss 'em, but usually sticks to smaller fighters like Zenon Konopka or Dan Carcillo. Along with Sestito, we may see some Simmonds or Hartnell man dances due to the physicality that tonight promises.
The best I've seen this Flyers club recently, and perhaps all season, was in their 6-5 OT loss to the Bruins in late January. In that game, the Flyers were relentless on their forecheck and converted their power play opportunities. The loss didn't sting as much, because the effort was so noticeable. For the young Flyers to play more consistently, they have to be able to match other teams intensity. They were able to come out against Boston and dictate the pace, something they must start doing more often. It's time to circle the wagons and grind out two points. First round is on FGSB, giddyup. Let's Go Flyers.