Downie Wins the Battle But Devils Win Fifth Straight Over Flyers

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While Steve Downie landed some nasty blows, it was the Devils who continued their beating of the Flyers Tuesday night.  Our pal Martin of digidigidigi was at the Wachovia Center for the game.  Here are his thoughts.

For the longest time, I was under the impression that Ed Snider owned the Philadelphia Flyers.  I was wrong.  Martin Brodeur, Lou Lamoriello and his cast of no name wingers and defenseman do.  I sat in attendance Tuesday night at the Wachovia Center where those hated satanic rivals from up the turnpike handed the Flyers a “pants around your ankles” embarrassing 7-3 loss.  At stake was a shot for sole possession of first place in the Atlantic division, but I feel the Flyers lost much more than that.  Post game interviews with John Stevens showed that the head coach doesn’t believe the Devils are in his team’s head.  A contradictory statement came from  Daniel Briere who opened scoring on a deflection in the first when he said, “They have our number. We have to figure out a way of getting them out of our heads.”

One of the few highlights I feel was worth the price of admission came at (off) the hands of Steve Downie, one of the most controversial and entertaining hockey players in Philadelphia since Eric Lindros came to town via a smeared fax.  Late in the first and long before the game was out of reach, Devil’s goon David Clarkson was making his way to the bench for a line change and collided with Downie. 

After watching all the YouTube videos and reading all the incidents in the surprising rookie’s past, I personally have been salivating at the prospect of seeing number 27 drop the gloves. The two struggled and tangled for what seemed to be an eternity before ending up at a stalemate in front of the Flyers bench.  A Wachovia camera zoomed in on the fight and projected on the big screen one of the funniest and most memorable moments in recent Flyers history.  Downie, who became aware that he had at some point cut Clarkson with a punch (not a claw?), began to taunt and laugh in Clarkson’s face.  He’d taunt, duck a punch… taunt and duck a punch… all while laughing for the 19,000 plus to see.  The camera then panned to the Flyers bench to show Jeff Carter and Scottie Upshall, among others, admiring the exchange between Downie and Clarkson with huge smiles on their faces.  Carter only diverted his attention from the fight in order to scoop up is team mate’s hearing aide, which had been lost in the melee.

In a short time since coming up to the big club, Downie has become known as a player both opponents and their fans love to hate, but wouldn’t mind having him on their team.  It is hard to say whether Steve Downie is feeding off the success of line mates Mike Richards and Scott Hartnell, or whether his presence has been the spark to help that line produce 16 goals and 16 assists since becoming a unit only 9 games ago.  The line’s gritty work along the boards, skilled puck possession, and down low cycle have helped the Flyers climb to the top of the Atlantic Division.  Aside from the loss, my other disappointment stemmed from the lack of ice time this dominant line had due to all the special teams play.  Downie, who is averaging almost a point per game, plays regularly at even strength.  The Flyers finish off their last game before the All-Star break this evening against the Crosby-less Pittsburgh Penguins.

Notes:  One concern that the Flyers don’t’ mind having is what line to put Joffrey Lupul on once he returns sometime next month from a spinal contusion.  The odd man out would be Dowd, Cote or Kapanen.  During one of the frequent grappling matches after the whistle on Tuesday, Marty Biron shot the puck the length of the ice and in on Marty Brodeur.  The puck stopped at Marty’s feet and his head snapped in the direction of Biron, who had approached the Flyers bench.  The entire team struggled against their hated rival, but Scottie Upshall took two undisciplined and unnecessary penalties that led to goals against.  Flyers fans taking in the Sixers game Wednesday night against the Pistons were treated to the sight of Steve Downie, Scott Hartnell, Mike Richards, and Joffrey Lupul courtside.

[Image via Courier Post slide show]
[Video of the Downie fight]

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