Just to clarify before anyone uses the term incorrectly, 3 wins is a streak. This is not one...yet.
I will again re-iterate that the east must be BAD. The Flyers were utterly horrible. I didn't see any of their stars do anything of significance and their supporting cast was useless.
I'd forgotten why I hated Scott Hartnell even before the hair. Now I remember. What a cheap little loser of a hockey player. No need for running into Deslaurier at the end of the game. Still a little upset none of our guys pounded on him. Comrie was seemingly ready to fight 2 guys, but neither wanted to bother at that stage.
Jeff Deslauriers played really well tonight. He battled and made saves on some excellent shots that he maybe should've have stopped. He got one really lucky break in the first when a Philly player (Gagne? Carcillo?) stickhandled away a goal in front of an empty net from 6 inches out, but other than that he was good. He was even pretty solid in terms of playing the puck. Deslauriers is a competitor, which is plain to see every time he plays for us. I was really hoping at the end that they'd win it for him because he did deserve it tonight. He held em in.
Watching Alex Plante for the last 2 games has been a pleasant surprise to say the least. Tonight he got a little bit more icetime and certainly didn't do himself any harm. Again, if he develops any footspeed at this level, he'll be okay. One thing he does that separates him from some of our defenceman and that could make him very useful is that he makes physical contact with just about every attacker that comes near him. This doesn't mean he needs to dish out hits (though he seemed to personally take on Carcillo, including trying to fight him, which impressed me), it means he gets in the way, rubs people against the boards, and generally makes life difficult in the defensive zone. So long as you can do this without drifting out of position, this is a great instinct. He doesn't drift out of position. I don't recall him getting caught. He almost scored his first NHL goal tonight on an excellent slapper from the point, and I noticed that late in the game under pressure from the Philly attack, instead of flipping the puck away as many rookies and vets do, he simply changed his positioning, handled it away, and made a calm pass. Perfect. If it is not simply adrenaline, this kid could somehow turn out to be MONEY.
Taylor Chorney also played a pretty solid game. I didn't notice as many little things with him, and he made a couple giveaways and hung Visnovsky out to dry a couple times, but for who he is and where he's been placed, it was okay. I like his offensive instincts as I always have, although there was a point late in tonight's game where he could have jumped in and after a puck harder than he did and he decided against it. I was surprised.
Tom Gilbert I felt was quite solid again. He defended well, laid some hits, and got back to make a great defensive play or two, including one late in the third that was fairly important. He's settled in. What I'd concentrate on for the rest of the year is trying to get him into the 26-28 minute range 2 out of every 3 nights. Will the ever be a better time to see if he can manage?
Jason Strudwick was himself. I think Plante looks better frankly.
Lubomir Visnovsky didn't have a great offensive night in that he couldn't really seem to get anything going. There were no epic skates, no great passes and no laser shots. What he did do however was defend like a champ, including breaking up a nice Philly chance in the second. Why exactly he plays so little for a man of his skill, I have no freaking idea.
Denis nearly cost his goalie the game. In the third he got flat burned by a Philly forward who wasn't even moving that fast and nearly allowed a dangerous rush only to be bailed out. I also didn't see the offensive work from him tonight, so I'd consider this a disappointing effort.
The Jacques-Pouliot-Stortini line was once again led by Pouliot. He was the one skating, making people miss and making passes. It's too bad he doesn't have anyone to pass to. He set up Jacques on a great little move in the third when the score was still blanks that could have been the winner and Jacques predictably whiffed. Stortini had an okay fight with Ian L, who I would still love to have had on our squad the past 3 years.
Moreau-Horcoff-Comrie was pretty dull, but essentially never in danger. I'm sure much will be made about Moreau's missed open chance in the third as Horcoff was driven straight into the goalie, so there's probably not much need to go into it here. Horcoff was better at maintain his distance from the play until it was appropriate to move in. He didn't over-chase in the corners like he did last game. This is an issue he's had ever since he got into the NHL because he thinks he can rely on his skating all the time. The approach of overchasing leads to turnovers and/or lost battles. Comrie was okay in that he generated a little offence, but not as much as last game.
I really don't mind the way Cogliano plays when he's with Gagner and Penner. If that were our second scoring line I'd be fine with it, but I don't see how we build a team with a true first line not including Penner at this stage. Cogliano works best as a jump-in-jump-out support guy as opposed to the go-to on a line. I think his role with Gagner and Penner shows this best. Gagner on the other hand works best as the puck control feature. He did that job okay tonight but didn't make the dynamic plays we might have expected. I liked the play he made to set up Potulny's goal of course, and I liked the way he got himself into position in the inside top of the circle for one-timers (as opposed to Horcoff's WIDE low position) and certainly think he could have buried them. Penner continues to struggle. The only notable thing I remember about him tonight is that he took a fall or two.
The Brule-Potulny-O'Sullivan line was a familiar one that has the chance to provide fireworks on a nightly basis. They didn't provide much in the way of excitement for a long time. O'Sullivan's penalty was a ridiculous example of how stupid the NHL has become at times. You can plow a goalie, pick a man, grab him by the face, or throw him into your goalie and not get a penalty...BUT...if you lift a stick, which is a perfectly legal hockey play...some bonehead ref can give you a penalty. I thought it was a STELLAR defensive effort, incredibly well timed myself. Potulny found himself in the right place at the right time and did what he knows how to do...finish. Good for him. It's true that it looked like he whiffed a little, and so did Leighton in that he should have had it, but it went in. Brule should have risen to the physical occasion in this game and didn't. I need to see more out of him than I have lately.
This was obviously not the greatest game in the world, but gave a good look at some of our defenceman. I sincerely hope Mr. Plante is both able to keep playing, and continues to impress. He'd be a massive boost if he's a keeper. A better puck handling, bigger and non-penalty-taking version of Matt Greene would be awesome. So happy he didn't get the goathorns for that crummy break of the puck bouncing up on his stick and being shot over the glass.