The second period saw Claude Giroux and Brayden Schenn score just over a minute apart to push the Philadelphia Flyers to a 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Coming off a loss on Tuesday night, the Flyers looked like a team that wanted redemption after a disappointing game against the New York Islanders. The Leafs looked like they couldn’t handle the surging and physical forecheck the Flyers adopted early in the game.
Tyler Bozak scored two goals and Joffrey Lupul had one for the Leafs tonight in the losing cause.
The highlight of the night for me was the two-thirds of a Gordie Howe hat-trick that Scott Hartnell got all in the matter of seconds. Immediately after scoring, Hartnell had his celebration turn into a fight with Dion Phaneuf. This is the back-alley type play the Flyers love to bring to a game. This brash and tough play is exciting to watch in my opinion. I hate to see the captain of the Leafs drop the gloves, but Phaneuf has always been about taking care of situations like this one with his own knuckles. (video below)
The Leafs could not find composure in the waning minutes of the game with a power play advantage and the net empty for the extra attacker. This type of “panic” hockey they find themselves playing, sits square on the shoulders of coaching. Why can’t the team find practice time to address the possibility of a power play with an extra sixth attacker? Which player has the composure to move the puck into the offensive zone and set up for a game winning goal? These questions need answers; you can’t steal a game or force a team into overtime without a player that can take the reins in this type of game situation. It was a frustrating last sixty seconds of hockey played by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Flyers top five ranked power play slammed into the wall of the Leafs penalty kill tonight. The Leafs penalty kill continues to impress. David Steckel kept his face-off prowess intact by winning key draws in their own end. When the Leafs control the puck from a winning face-off the they can deliver the puck down the ice for immediate relief during a penalty kill. A small step they took in order to improve the special teams play that plagued them earlier in the season.
Tim Connolly had a horrible night on the ice, his play looked completely uninspired and non energetic. The third line for the Leafs needs to do a better job wearing down the defence by getting the puck down low and creating chances. Connolly should have no problem generating speed in the offensive zone with Matthew Lombardi on his wing. Between those two players, stick work along with speed is the mainstay of their game. Tonight the third line didn’t show up with any energy or urgency whatsoever.
You could see the frustration in coach Ron Wilson building in the third period as he shuffled the lines. Moving Colby Armstrong alongside the speedy Lombardi added some grit and speed in order to create some more havoc. It will be interesting to see over the coming games if Wilson begins to juggle the bottom two lines a little more in practice to find some other chemistry options.
Saturday night against Montreal has to be an inspiring effort as Mats Sundin will watch his Jersey be raised to the rafters.