Steve Mason made 46 saves last night to drag the Flyers to a shootout on his own power. In three periods and a five minute overtime there were no goals scored between the Flyers and the Islanders, which isn’t so surprising for the Islanders side as Jaroslav Halak only had to face 21 shots all game.
Coming off a win over Columbus the Flyers knew that the Islanders would be problematic. Now at the top of the division for the first time in over 20 years, the Islanders proved themselves a threat when they beat Pittsburgh in a home and home series. The Flyers who are uncharacteristically low in the standings were hoping to build off of their win after breaking a 4 game losing streak, but it looked like they came prepared to play the Islanders from 2 or 3 years ago.
If you want a perfect example of how the night went for the Flyers look to the almost 3 minute shift that Andrew MacDonald was forced to have near the end of the second period. For 3 minutes the Flyers couldn’t clear the puck or get it far enough from their zone for the line to be able to change and that wasn’t even the only time the Flyers were trapped in their zone for more than 2 minutes. Luckily the Flyers were playing 7 defensemen so AMac had a chance to rest himself.
“We don’t have enough guys that compete hard enough, that show enough urgency throughout the game.” Berube said about the team’s effort, which is true enough, but even when they were trying, even when they were fighting battles in the corner they were just plain outplayed. Despite only controlling the puck for minimal stretches the Flyers managed some bright moments that were only made irrelevant by Halak. Sean Couturier had a short handed breakaway in the first period that Halak shut down, early in the second Rinaldo had a good pass to Bellmare that again Halak managed to stop, really the Flyers weren’t completely lacking some good chances despite only having 21 shots on net, unfortunatley most of those good shots made it right to Halak’s chest for easy saves. The Flyer penalty kill, which before tonight had taken a serious dip in quality, managed to shut down 4 Islanders penalties all night (Still with Mason’s help). So not everything was horrible, but it wasn’t good.
The Flyers weren’t prepared to play as hard as they needed to, they were sloppy and made it seem like they hadn’t expected the Islanders to play as hard as they did. “It’s frustrating, but at the same time … it has to be frustrating for the players when you don’t perform well and you let in crap goals [in other games],” Mason said. “It’s just frustrating not being able to get the extra point.”
Visibly frustrating for Wayne Simmonds, especially at one point when Cal Clutterbuck overacted to Simmonds’ stick hitting his shoulder which resulted in a Flyers power play being canceled out. There were also a couple non calls late in the game when Islanders players took to punching and throwing Flyers to the ice away from the play, but the refs decided to go blind. One instance had the Flyers stop skating for a few seconds expecting a call only to have to collect themselves to prevent a rush when there was no whistle.
Madison Square Garden has been a problem for the Flyers for a few years, now it seems that the whole state could become an issue, luckily Buffalo is still a struggling team. So congrats to the Islanders for not being the laughing stock of the East anymore, but we’re not trying to have the Flyers fill that spot, so here’s hoping they get their shit together.