The talk of the day heading into the Flyers' first game of the season's second half centered on how only one player from the top team in the Eastern Conference was named an All-Star. While we were all happy to see Claude Giroux get some league-wide acknowledgement, especially after he was left off the All-Star ballot, there are plenty of guys worthy of the nod on this roster. It didn't take long for them to show it, either.
Danny Briere was a popular choice for biggest snub, with Mike Richards and Kimmo Timonen not far behind him. How about Sergei Bobrovsky among the rookie All-Star selections (see comments)? Well each of those guys played their asses off in a more meaningful game Tuesday night, with Briere leading them to a 5-2 win over his former club in Buffalo. Scott Hartnell wasn't in the All-Star discussion, but he continued his resurgent season by notching a Gordie Howe Hat Trick.
Highlights and video below.
It was a rough start for the Flyers, who were outplayed heavily in the first 10 minutes of the game and for stretches of the second period as well. Bob gave up a pair early, although he was playing behind sloppy defense and was caught off guard by a bad bounce off the back boards. Kid hadn't played since New Year's Eve, so it wasn't too surprising that he got off to a sluggish start. But he recovered quickly and shut out the Sabres for the remaining 50 minutes, with 38 saves overall.
Briere tied a career-best four points, which had to feel a little better coming against his former squad. He scored a loud top-shelf goal and added three assists, and his line was once again the best on the ice, accounting for four of the team's five goals.
Hartnell had a Gordie Howe Hat Trick, scoring a pair including the empty netter, assisting on another, and fighting Paul Gaustad, and Ville Leino was credited with a goal that bounced in off his skate as he skidded to a stop in front of Ryan Miller while being obstructed. The play was reviewed, but quickly upheld.
Richie had a good night as well, beginning with an "assist" that won't show up on the scoresheet. With the Flyers on the powerplay in the first period, he absolutely ROCKED Jochen Hecht, opening up a lane for Briere to send a sweet touch pass to Timonen, who put one on goal where a screening Hartnell would deflect it in. The Captain's encore would come on a brilliant breakaway move to beat one of the best goaltenders in the game.
Highlights below, followed by some celebratory extras:
•Through two contests this season, the Flyers have hung NINE goals on Ryan Miller. [/Lindy Ruff face]
•With Leino's goal, the Flyers now have eight players with double-digit goals.
•Scott Hartnell's pair of tallies tied his season total of 14 from last season.
•Andrej Meszaros added to his league-leading +/- total with a plus-2 on the night. Ville Leino was also a plus-2, and he's now third in the league in the category.
•Anthony SanFilippo pointed out before the game that the Flyers are 6-0-0 when Nik Zherdev is scratched. Make that 7. Not many teams can afford to be without one of their most talented scorers, but the Flyers aren't most teams.
•The Flyers won 33 faceoffs and lost 22. That helps.
•JVR scored in the third period, but the goal was waved off due to a high stick by Giroux. It was an amazing play by both guys though, with JVR knocking the pass down, juggling it with the toe of his skate, and knocking it in out of mid-air.
•The Flyers are now three points ahead of the Penguins for the division and conference lead, and they've played two fewer games.
•The tough four-games-in-six-days road trip continues with games in Boston on Thursday, Atlanta on Friday, and New York on Sunday.
(AP Photo/David Duprey)