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Flyers Outlast Red Wings for First Motor City Win in 22 Years

Jan 2, 2011, 8:37 PM EDT

Coming off a very disappointing loss in Anaheim, the Flyers recovered to play an outstanding game on Sunday afternoon in Detroit. The 3-2 victory was their first win in Motown since 1988, and while none of the current Flyers were on the team at the time (JVR wasn’t even born yet), it’s great to get the monkey of the franchise’s back. 

History aside, this was one of the better games of the season for the Flyers, who played to an even first period, dominated the second, and withstood a surge by a very talented Red Wings squad in the third. 

James van Riemsdyk got the scoring started less than a minute into the second period. His regrouped line alongside Richie and Andreas Nodl outworked the Red Wings deep in the zone, and JVR took a puck out of the corner, turned and threw a shot on net. It deflected in off of Valtteri Filppula’s stick to make JVR the ninth Flyer to reach the nine-goal mark.

Scoring depth was a storyline in this one, as you’d expect with the two deepest teams in the league squaring off. The Flyers’ second goal came from a somewhat unlikely source though, with the fourth line disrupting their way to earn a marker of their own. With talented scorer Nikolay Zherdev getting the scratch and Dan Carcillo and Jody Shelley each suiting up, you’d assume the Flyers were trading some scoring for toughness and gritty play. Carcillo was like a kamikaze around the net, and Shelley made the pass back to Andrej Meszaros, who fired it in on net. The shot was first deflected by Detroit’s Jiri Hudler, then Carcillo in front. Say what you will about Chico, but he rarely gives up on a play, and it resulted in a very big goal here. Both he and Shelley were below 10 minutes as I suggested before the game (I went way out on a limb there), but Carcillo actually managed four shots on goal in under seven minutes. 

As they have in most games this season, the Flyers continued to dominate the second period, adding their third goal before heading into the intermission. We really wanted to see Ville Leino score against the team that cast him aside in a tough roster space situation last season, but while he didn’t register a point, Ville did contribute to the third goal. Scott Hartnell made a great shot to find the top blocker side of the net, and Leino had screened Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard at the perfect moment.

Each of the Flyers goals had one thing in common—hard work and aggressive pressure deep in the Red Wings zone. 

The Wings would make it a blood pressure game in the third, helped by a terrible interference call on Leino, who was pushed into Chris Osgood (who had replaced Howard to start the period). The call negated a Flyers’ power play, and when the Red Wings went on the man advantage, you just knew they were going to score.

At 3-2 though, the Flyers showed a lot of heart in weathering the storm and just kept lobbing the puck out of their zone. Detroit’s pressure was intense, and they weren’t taking any chances with clearing attempts that could be intercepted. 

Celebrating his 34th birthday, Brian Boucher deserves a lot of credit in this one, keeping Detroit off the sheet through two periods and making some huge saves in the third. None were bigger than one particular Left-Handed Larceny™ on Johan Franzen.

When asked whether Boosh is emerging as the team’s #1 goalie, Peter Laviolette brushed the question off. “I don’t really like that ‘number’ thing.” So, don’t look for anyone to be named the team’s top goalie any time soon. The only way to keep the gig is too just keep playing well, and Boosh looks to have shaken off his cold patch. Even more impressive is that he was sharp without the ability to practice in a morning skate earlier today. With a travel day yesterday and the early start time today, the Flyers’ haven’t practiced since last year. (Hiiiiiiyoooooo)

Lavvy also wasn’t phased by the specter of his team not having won in Detroit since the Reagan administration was in office. When asked how much he stressed the Flyers’ history in the building, Lavvy said, “Not one word. I don’t believe in that stuff. How are you supposed to coach that? Like what do you do? How do you go in to the board and draw that up? Usually the play on the ice dictates thing, there’s different players here, everything’s different, so there’s no sense in bringing it up because there’s no way to do anything about it.”

Hard to argue with that, but as fans, we’re glad we don’t have to hear it every year. It’ll now be replaced with “just one win in the last 22 years.”