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Contenders and Contenders


Flyers @ Lightning/Sharks @ Predators

I think Versteeg had some catching up to do.  I was startled to see incomplete passes in a Flyers game. But it was his first day with the team. He may catch on.

The Flyers started out using some aggravating stalling tactics against Tampa Bay’s notorious trap.  That was interesting, but it didn’t last very long. By the second period, the teams were back to their usual mad dash.

I was switching back and forth between the Sharks game and the Flyers game and after watching the Sharks and the Predators get started, the Flyers game looked like the film had been sped up.  As a result, the score leapt from 1-0 Flyers at the end of the first to 3-3 at the start of the third. 

The Flyers really did not want to lose to Tampa Bay yet again.  Tampa Bay has been transformed from a curiosity as the NHL’s Most Improved to a bonified Top Contender.   They are really the Flyers’ only serious competition in the East now. 

So this was a big game for the Flyers, as tests go.

The Sharks game was also against one of the conference’s Most Improved turned legitimate Contender.  The Sharks not only needed to win to avoid a sweep by the Predators, they also desperately need the points to stay in contention for a playoff spot.

The Sharks didn’t exactly dominate the game.  They did get 50 shots on goal, but it still went to overtime tied at one. 

Seto tied it up around the same time Tampa Bay tied their game at 3.  Deciding which to watch was not easy.  The Sharks needed the win more.  Whatever other similarities the games had, that was a big difference.

It’s always a little frustrating to watch your team shoot again and again and not score.  But there was more to the game than that.  While the Sharks failed on the power play, they mostly handled the penalty kill very well.  The one goal they gave up was a power play goal, but they had other penalties to kill off.

So if that was the Sharks playing a good defensive game, how did they get 50 shots off?   They must have played pretty well all around.

The Flyers also went to overtime.  They actually went to a shootout.  I didn’t mind that.  I didn’t want to see Roloson lose badly.  He made a very cool save on Briere without going all the way down.  Boosh answered with the same.  Tampa Bay’s second shooter beat Boosh, and then Richards beat Rollie.

Lavi made the interesting choice to put Versteeg in, and Rollie stopped him with an amusing rolling over backwards move.

I thought I would to miss the end of it.  I decided not to record 3 1/2 hours. I decided the game should end after 3 hours. Stupid me.

Timonen scored the second goal for the Flyers.  St. Louis couldn’t beat Boosh, and the Flyers won.  In under three hours, barely.

I feel like an ungrateful fan for not being elated about the Sharks win. It was an important one but I didn’t see any drastic change in strategy or implementation from the team.  I would like to see them be more adaptable, more nimble.  The Predators seem like a team that could be solved without needing 50 shots on goal. 

I worry when the approach is more of the same.  That makes it seem like the Sharks are the ones that are easy to solve.  I would like them to be more unpredictable, like the Flyers.  But that is a very high bar.  Laviolette has shown that his team is better at changing strategy than any other team, by a great big lot. 

I’m glad I won’t have to watch both teams play at the same time again, not for a while anyway.  No one looks good next to the Flyers right now. 

But I’m probably biased, I usually am.



  1. Scum says:

    Nice entry Petshark. Hope you’re feeling better. I thought that I’d read somewhere that Leighton was waived. Is this true? How do you feel about this?

    • petshark says:

      He was waived some time ago, several times. Most recently in Jan. One of his fans on Twitter calls him her Waiver Saver. Do you mean today? That’s giving me palpitations.

      • petshark says:

        Okay, I see nothing about him being moved today (though if the Flyers try to bring him back up, I would not be surprised if DW picked him up, which would make me retract any and every negative thought I ever had about DW) All that said, I was sad to see him sent down by PHI, but I understood the logic. He and Boosh are similar quantities, and Boosh has been playing very well. Better for Leights to play AHL than not at all, professionally. Of course his pocketbook may not agree.

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