This match was always destined to be a potential fate sealer, but with the news of Timonen being traded to Chicago in exchange for picks less than a day before the game, both the team and the fans were always going to feel extra anxious. It was only a few days prior to the news that we were hearing rumours of the 39 year old starting in this very game. With analysts pinning much of the early season struggles on the absence of Timonen, could the Flyers get through a tense Broadway versus Broad Street rivalry game?
February had been nothing short of confusing for the Flyers. A nine game point streak was not to be disregarded but the hockey being played wasn’t really..deserving of such a streak. It’s very reminiscent of Manchester United at the moment (For soccer fans) who despite being inside the top four are clawing victories where they should really be dominating. Since that streak came to an abrupt end, the tables have turned completely. The Flyers came into this showdown 2-3-1 in their last six games. Not great. But the hockey being played has undoubtedly been the best we have seen all season. It’s been amazing to watch the Flyers get that “zing” back but heartbreaking seeing all of the luck in the world decide on floating over to help the opposition..*cough* Maple Leafs *cough*. So how were they going to perform?! Was this going to be a defiant stand and a warning signal that this team can make the playoffs? Or would it be a sterling performance with a mediocre result?
The answer is in the result. Whilst Philly weren’t dominant from start to finish…(in fact it was the Rangers who struck first with a worldie of a strike), this was the best representation of what I was talking about earlier..minus the bad luck. Great play, fantastic vision and a goal from Del Zotto may have just signified that the team can survive without their legendary Defenceman. Read, Raffl and Simmonds all added to the goal tally and this looked like a team who had just endured the most aggressive prep talk in history. They were fighting for every inch of ice, it was high tempo, end to end action. Much better than waiting for the inevitable third period goal to snatch points away from them..right?
New York didn’t go down easily however and kept the Flyers on their toes in the final period as they searched desperately for a goal that was never to be found. This felt like a tense rivalry. Both teams were trading chances rapidly, with some absolute sitters being missed. It was a true tug of war and the Flyers were the ones pulled the hardest, capitalising when they needed to on those last vital breaks.
There was a lot at steak here for both teams and the Flyers are running out of life lines. They know what they have to do if they are to make the playoffs and that’s play like animals over the next six months or so. That’s exactly what they did last night. If they can carry that momentum into their match against Calgary..the flames may well be extinguished pretty soon into the first period.