At Least Giroux Lit the Lamp


It wasn't pretty last night in Sunrise, with the Flyers losing their first game after a long break to start the unofficial second half of the season. After starting strong, they got outworked for stretches of the game, and a late flurry wasn't quite enough to come back from a two-goal deficit. Well, that's not really true. It was exactly enough.

The Flyers scored two third period goals, but the second was disallowed due to a horrible call on Kimmo Timonen. Kimmo gave Keith Ballard a little shove, but nowhere near enough to knock him down, and Ballard flopped around like a fish in a boat to earn the call. A Darwin fish with arms, actually, because Ballard was flailing his limb around three feet away from the action. No dive called the other way. But what else is new. Mike Richards had the quote of the night:

"It's a little suspect when, and no offense to Kimmo, he's pushing
people around in front and they're falling like that," Flyers captain Mike Richards said. "Maybe the guys should hit the gym more."

The Flyers could have played better though too. They had trouble clearing the crease, allowing screens in front of Marty Biron, which led to one of Florida's goals. John Stevens said he wasn't disappointed in the team's effort last night, and Ed Moran's column today discusses how the coach believes the defense is tough enough. At the other end, Florida cleared pucks to the boards pretty well and limited the Flyers' second efforts. Regardless of the BS Timonen call, the Panthers earned the win.

There were a few highlights though. First, Simon Gagne scored his 20th of the season. It was on a rather unceremonious skate redirection, but seeing Gags on the goal sheet is encouraging. Marty Biron played better than the three goals would indicate, making a great save on a golden opportunity for the Panthers when Kimmo's stick broke.

But the biggest highlight of the night was when future star Claude Giroux scored his first NHL goal. Giroux skated in, picked his target high opposite side, and nailed it. 

Giroux may not be scoring often, but his game has been solid. He now has four points in eight games, mostly skating with the third line. If he and Darroll Powe can continue to build on their chemistry, the matchup problems of three dangerous scoring lines will pay big dividends.

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