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Possession

Thrashers @ Flyers, March 12, 2011
-First period-
Boynton was paired with Carle.  That’s one question answered.

As for inspired puck management… at least Bob played well.  He didn’t have much opportunity to show off his puck handling skills, though at the very end of the period he did come out a ways to clear a puck and fanned on it.  That made things a little exciting.

The Flyers started the period a step slower than the Thrashers.  At times, the Thrashers appeared to be on a power play and I had to check the scoreboard to be sure they were not. 

This went on for about twelve minutes, punctuated by a late shot from Byfuglien after an offside whistle.  Bob was not impressed.

The Flyers had a couple good chances but I didn’t notice any spectacular puck hoarding.  Perhaps Byfug’s bad juju was scrambling their signals.

The Flyers finally mustered some enthusiasm and after a brief rally in the Thrasher’s zone, Leino knocked one in.

This was an opportunity.  Not only had they held off the Thrashers without being very sharp, but they had the lead now. Could they maintain a little momentum, maybe even some speed?

-Second period-
The teams started off 4 on 4, on the end of a strange matching penalty on Briere and Enstrom for diving and interference respectively.

Again, the Flyers did not dominate play.  This can be called surprising: the Thrashers had won only three games in regulation of their last 33. 

Despite allowing the Thrashers far too much time on the puck, and despite taking a hooking penalty early, they scored again, this time shorthanded.  It was Timonen’s second short handed goal of the year.

After killing off that penalty, the Flyers finally seemed to find their groove. For a splendid shift around 8 minutes in, the orange team held their ground firmly in the offensive zone.  The Thrashers had little opportunity to get to the puck unless it bounced off their goalie first.

(Note to self: stop thinking about shutouts!)

The Atlanta announcers mention that the Flyers tend to be most dangerous in the second period. They added that many of the best teams have that in common this year, mentioning the Sharks in particular.  So the second period push is what all the cool kids are doing this season.  I hadn’t noticed that.

The Flyers got a power play with about eight minutes left in the period.  Leino fumbled a pass and couldn’t keep it in.  Versteeg retrieved it and a short scramble in front of Pavelec left an opening for Leino, who dove for the puck and poked it in.  That had to make him feel better.

The Thrashers responded with a push of their own, but they could not maintain it for long.  Something certainly had the Flyers on alert.  The three goal lead did not appear to be a problem yet.

-Third period-

The Flyers started the period with some energy and a couple chances.  The Thrashers started with a new goalie and an unassisted goal off a breakaway by Evander Kane. 

Ironically, to get that goal, he had to beat Sean O’Donnell, the same Flyer who reminded him to keep his head up in their last meeting.

Now all was as it should be, no precarious new shutout territory for the Flyers to navigate.

Byfuglien went to the locker room after taking a tumble.  I couldn’t see if he had help taking that tumble. 

Kane made another rush at the net, again beating O’Donnell, but this time drew a hooking penalty.  I wonder if O’Donnell was being too careful around young Kane.  Bob made some very nice saves to kill the penalty.

A little over half way through the period, Bob half mishandled the puck behind the net, resulting in a little excitement in front of his net.  He got to make up for it, no harm done.

A shift or so later, Bogosian put a shot through Bob’s five hole.  To be fair, there was some traffic in front of Bob but not that much.

Seconds later, Stuart was called for playing with a broken stick, putting the Flyers on the power play.  That didn’t last long.  Leino made a try for a hat trick right off but needed two tries to get it: his first in the NHL.  After the break, the cameras paused on Leino clapping stick to glove in salute to the crowd for their hat-tossing enthusiasm.

With just over three minutes to go, Versteeg was called for hooking.  The Thrashers took 11 seconds to score, making it a one goal game with over two minutes left.   The Flyers didn’t have long to get set up, but probably should not have all been to Bob’s right.  Someone should have been on Enstrom, or at least in his neighborhood.

Versteeg tried to put the puck behind the net but threw it at Bob instead.  Bob couldn’t control it and it went right to a lurking Ladd who could handle it very well.

Ugh. That was pretty awful.

-Overtime-
All that can be said for the overtime was that it did not last long.  Leino with the turnover, Carle with the inattention, and Timonen with the going down early…all led to three on one success for the Thrashers.

Well, if the Flyers had to lose Leino’s hat trick game, best it was his turnover that led to the game winner.

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