If it’s possible to be both cautiously optimistic while
simultaneously expecting the worst, that range of emotions would probably best
describe the feeling heading into the Flyers’ Thursday night date with the
Florida Panthers. Regardless, lowered expectations will do little to combat the
unpleasant taste that follows a 5-2 loss, especially to an opponent who began the
evening with the fewest wins in the Eastern Conference.
Florida scored the first three goals of the contest during a
two-minute flurry in the opening period and never looked back. Rookie Johnathan
Huberdeau – the third-overall pick of the 2011 draft – keyed the Panthers’
offense, achieving a new career high with four points on two goals and two
Given such basic information, it’s easy to question Peter
Laviolette’s judgment to ride Ilya Bryzgalov for a second day in a row. As
has often been the case in Bryz meltdowns this season however, his teammates didn’t
give him much of a chance. Florida built their 3-0 lead on a wide-open shot from
the slot, a breakaway, and a penalty shot. It would be nice if Bryzgalov would
make a stop every once in awhile when he’s left one-on-one, but that has less
to do with fatigue as much as it’s just one of his shortcomings. Florida went up
4-0 on a power play in the second period, signaling the end of the cosmonaut’s
Disappointing as this loss was, you can’t easily claim it was for
lack of effort. While the Flyers were undoubtedly weary, they had their share
of chances and kept on fighting until the end, but Panthers' netminder Scott Clemmensen was up to the task. Meanwhile, turnovers and defensive breakdowns
proved Philadelphia's undoing, and this time the hole was simply dug too deep.
Not their night. Not surprising, either, given the energy it
took to outlast the Penguins a mere 24 hours earlier. Unfortunately, degree of difficulty doesn’t mean a thing in the standings.
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