10 observations from Flyers-Canadiens

10 observations from Flyers-Canadiens

Berube on win: 'There's a lot of character in the room'

December 12, 2013, 10:00 pm
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The Flyers celebrate Claude Giroux's goal in their 2-1 win over the Canadiens. (AP)

Ten random observations from the Flyers’ 2-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens (see Instant Replay).

1. Say what you will about the addition of Michael Raffl to the Flyers’ top line with Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek. Yes, Raffl isn’t exactly the ideal top-line winger. Yes, he’s most likely not the Flyers’ long-term answer in that position. But Raffl did something the Flyers -- and that line in particular -- have desperately needed all season: He snuck into position fast and capitalized. You saw the result. His pretty goal that gave the Flyers a 1-0 first-period lead.

2. Speaking of Thursday’s line shakeups … it’s about time. After a mediocre road trip and Wednesday’s 7-2 trashing at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks, coach Craig Berube needed to do something. Considering the coach can only do so much with the players he has, switching up the lines was his only real move. He should be commended for at least trying something. One issue, though: Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds on a line together? They had a couple of chances, but I don’t like the idea of the two very similar players on one line.

3. The Wells Fargo Center felt like it was emptier Thursday night than it has been in years. The first period, especially, the building felt at least half-empty. Is the construction on 95 really that bad? … Or are fans finally backing up their frustrations with their wallets?

4. Voracek had a solid game against the Canadiens. He needed it. The Flyers’ winger started off the season slowly and struggled to generate any offense for weeks at a time. But now, despite the Flyers’ rough past few games, Voracek seems to be on a roll. Before his two points Thursday, Voracek had a goal in each of his past two games. A big key to the Flyers’ success is consistent contribution from the top line -- it’s a good sign that Voracek seems to be headed in that direction.

5. You have to love the reception for Danny Briere. Some players just leave an impression on a team, and there’s no doubt Briere left one on the Flyers. Even though the crowd at the Center was noticeably small, it got noticeably loud when a Briere highlight reel played on the big screen. Even better still: Players and coaches on both benches gave him a standing ovation. Such a classy hockey move.

6. Why were Twitter and Facebook (and, to be honest, some members of the media) so excited by the Flyers’ first period? Sure, they closed out the opening stanza with a 1-0 lead, and yes, the game was the second half of back-to-back games. But honestly, they looked mediocre at best. Perhaps they were tired, but they looked flat.

7. After a couple of rough starts for Steve Mason, in which he gave up four goals in consecutive games, it was encouraging to see the Flyers’ goalie put in a strong performance. Mason has been the Flyers’ MVP of the season, and if the team intends to continue its battle for a playoff spot, it's going to need him going forward. This Flyers team isn’t going to score four goals a night -- but its goaltender is going to have to be able to rebound fast if he gives up that many.

8. Did anyone notice I traded a Tim for a Tim tonight? It was Riday (instead of Panaccio) who wrote the game story Thursday evening (see story).

9. Interesting move by Berube to start newly signed Chris VandeVelde over Jay Rosehill. Even just a couple hours before the game, Berube insisted he was undecided over who would play. VandeVelde had just 23 career NHL games heading into Thursday’s game, and he’d garnered a reputation as somewhat of a defensive liability while with the Edmonton Oilers. He played a very quiet 5:36 against the Canadiens, but a quiet game from VandeVelde is a good game from VandeVelde.

10. It was a surprise -- although a solid surprise -- that after a conference, the referees decided to hand down a five-minute major and game misconduct to Alexei Emelin for his elbow to the head of Steve Downie (see video). The call was the right one.