The Flyers continue to move forward through the injuries! We’re also in first place in the Atlantic Division! Last night, the shootout victory over the Florida Panthers was tense. Firstly, the Panthers aren’t going anywhere this season, the Southleast will be represented by Carolina and/or Tampa so all the remaining teams can do is spoil it for the contenders.
The Flyers were behind the bulk of the game but kept coming from behind. When they couldn’t cinch it in the five minutes of 4-on-4 play, I was ready to throw in the towel because 1-on-1 isn’t Nittymaki’s forte (that’s right, I stand behind Esche remaining the starter despite his stats, he doesn’t choke on soft goals). Thankfully Michal Handzus, a terribly underrated player in my opinion, scored as the fourth shooter and the Panthers’ last chance fumbled the puck while Nittymaki left the goal wide open as he overcommitted to the wrong side.
Two games down, four points gained. Nine games remain on this road trip which will be the longest in Flyers and NHL history (depending upon who you listen to). They will only encounter the NY Rangers once to assert that they are #1 over the one-line wonders. It will also conclude in Detroit, ouch. The Detroit Red Wings are still the smart money for the Western Conference since the Pacific is mediocre and the Northwestern Division will have the usual Vancouver Canucks but no Colorado Avalanche to sweat. A Stanely Cup rematch with them would be awesome since they were the favored teams in Vegas. But if it turns into another 4-0 sweep like 1997, I’ll cry. It also means my annual wager of a six-pack of beer with my friend, co-worker and Red Wings fanatic, Brian D at Apple.