How Flyers were able to dominate reigning champs

The Flyers played host to reigning Stanley Cup Champions the Chicago Blackhawks last night and surprisingly come away with a huge 3-0 win. In a game that means a lot to both the fans and players when you look at the rivalry’s illustrious history and the retirement night of Kimo Timonen, the Flyers came up large and fired on all cylinders. But There were some big reasons as to why this team were able to establish and retain such a powerful lead.

Nuclear Neuvirth
Michal Neuvirth stopped all 30 Blackhawks shots to achieve his second straight shutout in his first two games, the first Flyer to achieve such a record since 2003. Marian Hossa had an incredible short handed breakway shot that was blocked by the former Capitals player and arguably showed just how talented this man really is. With Mason absent, most fans were curious to see what Michal Neuvirth could bring to the table against one of the most explosive Offenses in the NHL…he shut them out. There is no doubt that he played a huge part in last nights win and will certainly continue to grow behind Mason to create an intimidating 1-2 tandem.

Penalty Kill
Last season, the Flyers ranked 27th in the Penalty Kill, so when you hear the Blackhawks had five powerplays at the Wells-Fargo last night you would automatically assume the worst. But even with a 5-on-3 scenario at one stage..the champs could not beat Neuvirth. The Blackhawks went 0-for-5..the Panthers went 0-for-6 in the game before..but why? Well, it kind of links into our next point.

Dominant Defense
The Flyers have played far more aggressively when it comes to hounding the puck carrier and it showed last night. The team may lack some star power back there..but they make up for it in toughness. After Gagner got the opener, the Blackhawks upped the ante but the Flyers did all they could to resist and were able to draw some crucial penalties.

It seemed that everything Chicago tried would work for a few minutes before the Flyers tighten up and build a brick wall around their goaltending sensation. Del Zotto and company aren’t afraid to get in front of the puck and make a block and in a game where the Blackhawks fire 31 times at a goaltender in only his second game with a team..you want to help him out.  Mark Streit blocked four shots last night whilst Manning and Schulz had two each. Del Zotto appeared to be much more physical, ploughing into players several time and with such a physical Defense..it means that there’s less pressure on the forwards. Allowing them to rotate without the worry of conceding a chance and be even more effective when on a PP or PK.

Bleeding Orange
Last night, the team played as one..every single player wanted that win. You could see it in the chemistry on the ice between the blue lines, you could see it in the one touch passes and you could feel it through the tv screen as the fans screamed “ROOOOO” in unison. Sam Gagner is a perfect example, the right wing got his first goal of the season last night on a power play after a pass back to Del Zotto set up a perfect pass through the lane to throw off Crawford and put the Flyers ahead

From the top line to the bottom, from Luke Schenn to Brayden..every single player is playing with heart. Sure there have been a few turnovers and hiccups along the way but last night the Flyers handled everything thrown at them and then dished it straight back. A promising sign for a team who were so evidently frustrated after the season opener. Giroux smashed his stick up after that infuriating loss and it seems that all of the events prior to last night had spurred the team on.

This isn’t just a group of talented individuals. It’s a team..playing with a new found chemistry under a faster system and a head coach who demands respect behind the scenes. It could be the tough love that Philadelphia fans have been crying out for..after all, it embodies what makes the city of brotherly love so special.

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