Matt Read reacts after scoring in the first period of the Flyers' 5-0 win over the Senators. (USA Today Images)
OTTAWA -- Bobby Ryan said earlier on Tuesday that he had a feeling Claude Giroux had left his funk behind and was about to get it going.
Giroux and his linemates -- Scott Hartnell and Jakub Voracek -- were the fireplugs for the Flyers in their 5-0 rout of the Senators (see Instant Replay).
That line had 13 shots, two goals and five points.
Giroux had four shots himself for the second game in succession -- a season first. He looked relaxed, too.
“The way we’re playing, we’re playing as a team and the way we should be playing and working hard,” Giroux said. “When you have Steve Mason behind you, it’s easy to play with confidence,” (see story).
The confidence they showed on the ice had a relaxing trickle-down effect on everyone. Even better, Giroux's line led the way on the backcheck with sticks in the lane, denying rushes and allowing the Flyers’ offensive chances off defensive transition.
That’s winning hockey.
“They played strong at start of the game to the end,” coach Craig Berube said. “I’m really impressed with the system play and the skating.
“It starts in the offensive zone where you’re not waiting. You are reloading already, getting back and putting pressure on them. Our defense can be aggressive and have good gaps because they know [the forwards] are getting back and make the play before they get into your own end. That’s the key.”
That defense fed the offense in this game. Even the power play scored twice.
“We buried our chances,” said Voracek, who had two goals (see story). “The last two games, we did that and it made the difference. It takes off some of the pressure from others.
“G wants to make a difference every game. When he doesn’t, he’s very hard on himself. Getting that monkey off his back really helped him a lot. We can play with a little less pressure ... we got to do it every night.”
Berube didn’t necessarily agree that having the top line scoring takes pressure off other lines but ... Brayden Schenn, Matt Read and Vinny Lecavalier all scored.
“Your top lines have to score -- that’s the way it is,” Berube said. “They are starting to produce now and getting results because of it. I don’t think it relieves pressure from anybody. We got lots of people who put the puck in the net, but their job is to play two-way hockey.”
Which is what the Flyers did on both sides of the puck.
“Since the coaching change, that’s the one thing they have preached to us -- have good sticks out there,” Read said.
“If you have the stick in the passing lane, they’re not going to make the play. They are going to try something and that’s how you create turnovers. That’s one thing we have to keep working hard at.”