Thursday, October 25, 2012

(Fake) GAME 4 of 82: Defense falters as Philly falls to 'Peg

2011-'12 was the Winnipeg Jets first year back in the NHL since moving to Phoenix, and while it wasn't an impressive one - they only finished two games above .500 and three spots out of the playoffs - their games against the Flyers were bizarre goal frenzies. In the season series, the Jets outscored Philly 21-18 en route to wins in three of four. While their first meeting of the 2012-'13 season wasn't the offensive mess that it was the previous year, the two sides still made for an interesting bout.

Scoring was sparse in the early goings of Saturday's game, but Winnipeg's persistence finally payed off late. Kyle Wellwood picked up a loose puck along the boards with about eight minutes left, saucered it behind an unsuspecting Luke Schenn to Alexander Burmistrov and caught Bryz out of position. The Orange and Black left the first leading in shots, 9-7, but down, 1-0.

The shots continued to rack up, but none hit the back of the net until about halfway through the second. With a charging Evander Kane in his face, Kimmo timonen let loose a blast from the point which was originally destined for the wide side boards, but the puck ended up deflecting off of the shaft of Scott Hartnell's stick and behind Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavalec to tie the game at one. However, it wasn't to last. No more than 30 seconds into the third, Oli Jokinen took a crossing pass from Kane off the faceoff and planted the rubber in the net to regain the lead. The Flyers had plenty of chances to pull tied once again, even hitting the post once. But time ran out before they could come back and the Flyers ultimately lost, 2-1.

It's games like this that give Ilya Bryzgalov a bad name. Even though he stopped 21 of 23 shots (which included two huge breakaways), the untrained eye looks at this game and just sees it was lost by the goalie. In reality, the loss falls on Brayden Coburn and Luke Schenn. Both were caught completely out of position on both scoring plays as the puck passed behind them and before they had a chance to get in the way, it was too late. The defense is thin enough as it is with Chris Pronger not returning and Andrej Meszaros out until mid-January. Unless the defense plays up to their potential, it could be a long season.

Next game is Thursday, October 25th when Philadelphia travels to Montreal to face the likes of Tomas Plekanec, P.K. Subban and Carey Price.

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