After last Thursday's dreadful, eye-gouge-worthy, 3-0 loss to New Jersey, if you had said the Flyers would be rolling into Pittsburgh tonight with some offensive momentum, most Flyer fans would have looked at you as if you had three heads.
Well, guess what?
You don’t have three heads because the Flyers are actually rolling into Pittsburgh tonight with some offensive momentum, the most recent display of which came in last night’s 5-0 whitewashing of the Senators in Ottawa.
Jake Voracek scored twice and Matt Read, Vinny Lecavalier and Brayden Schenn also lit the lamp for Philadelphia as Steve Mason earned his first shutout in orange and black.
Add that to the four goals the Flyers put up on the Oilers in their previous game and Philadelphia has nine goals in its last two games.
Take away the 5-2 win over the Islanders on Oct. 26 and the Flyers had scored nine goals total in their eight previous games COMBINED leading up to the Edmonton game.
In other words, it’s an offensive explosion!
Okay, the exclamation point probably wasn’t necessary but the point is the Flyers may have finally found the consistent offense that they’ve been desperately yearning for all season.
And what better timing than before a meeting with Sidney Crosby and those filthy, rotten, blood-rival and Metropolitan Divison-leading Penguins.
The Penguins took the teams’ first meeting of the season by a score of 4-1 on Oct. 17 as the Flyers sleepwalked through the entire game, were smattered with a chorus of boos most of the night by the Wells Fargo Center crowd and were only kept in the game by a great, 31-save Mason performance in goal.
Last week, many would have considered tonight’s game a nationally-televised funeral march for the Flyers. But if the Flyers’ last two games are any indication, tonight’s matchup shouldn’t be as lopsided the first one the two Pennsylvania teams played.
The Flyers will need this new-found offense of theirs to keep up with the typically high-powered Penguins.
Despite the absence of sniper James Neal, who has only played two games this season due to an injury he reportedly may have suffered while playing wiffle ball – no, I did not make that up, - and a subpar year so far from Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh still ranks in the top 10 in the league in shots on goal per game, goals scored per game, power-play percentage and power-play goals scored.
That’s due in major part to Crosby who, as you may imagine, is tied for the league lead in points with the recently-injured Steven Stamkos. Don’t worry, I’ll spare you the horror of Crosby’s career numbers against the Flyers. You’re welcome.
The Penguins are going to score. We all know that. But now that the Flyers have shown over the past few games that they can score too, all bets are off.
In a bit of unsuspected news, it’ll be Ray Emery in net tonight for the Flyers and not Mason coming off last night’s shutout.
Mason has obviously been awesome this season and the clearly the Flyers MVP, but his career numbers in back-to-back situations aren’t so hot. Emery has only given up two goals combined in his last two starts. Has he done anything else of note recently? I’m not sure.
The Flyers have stuck an orange and black flag in Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center and claimed it territory of Philadelphia. Including the 2012 playoffs, the Flyers are 8-2-1there since it opened in Oct. 2010.
Keep in mind that despite how poorly the Flyers have played over the first six weeks of the season, they currently are only five points out of a playoff spot in a weak Eastern Conference and just nine points behind the first-place Penguins in an even weaker Metropolitan Division. So this is kind of a big game.
All else aside, let’s just hope tonight’s game is the usual raucous, ridiculously-entertaining Flyers-Penguins glass case of emotion we’ve come to know and love and not a repeat of that boring snoozefest from a few weeks ago.