Flyers Shut Down By Bobrovsky And Blue Jackets 2-0

Published on April 4th, 2014

By Anthony Mingioni

PHILADELPHIA-The Philadelphia Flyers entered Thursday night’s game with the Columbus Blue Jackets with their eyes on keeping pace with the second place New York Rangers.

They finished their evening with the Jackets getting closer in their proverbial rear view mirror.

Led by reigning Vezina Trophy winner and former Flyers’ goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky’s 37 save performance, the Blue Jackets defeated the Flyers 2-0 and moved within one point of them in the Metropolitan Division standings.

Combined with the Rangers shootout loss to the Colorado Avalanche, the Flyers have fallen four points behind the Blueshirts for home ice advantage in a potential first round playoff match up, but still hold two games in hand (76 games played to New York’s 78).

There was a distinct lack of pace and focused play for both teams in the first period. Particularly notable was the lack of organization and urgency on the Flyers’ powerplay as they garnered three opportunities and came away with virtually no offensive pressure.

The Blue Jackets used their speed to frustrate Philadelphia and actually gained four shorthanded offensive opportunities on those three chances.

Philadelphia came out with renewed focus and jump to start the second period and they quickly piled up a substantial shot advantage, getting nine to Columbus’ three by the 7:30 mark.

A key moment of the contest came a minute when center Sean Couturier burst into Columbus’ zone on a shorthanded break after a bad turnover by former Flyer R.J. Umberger.

Blue Jackets forward Ryan Johansen hooked Couturier from behind and turned him around partially, which should have resulted in a penalty shot. But referee Dave Jackson called Johansen for the minor penalty instead.

The Flyers would continue to apply pressure, mounting their shot totals to double that of Columbus’ (25-12) and had a chance to score when Flyers captain Claude Giroux managed to get the puck out of a side board scrum to a waiting Jake Voracek who attempted to fire a one timer from a sharp angle.

The Czech forward’s stick snapped on his follow through, negating the opportunity.

Just under eight minutes later, Couturier would at the center of another pivotal moment when he was called for slashing. Without their best penalty killer on the ice, the Flyers watched the Blue Jackets move the puck around at will, getting four serious shot chances before defenseman James Wisniewski pinched in off the right post and fired a jam shot that just got under Mason’s left arm.

With the Blue Jackets taking a 1-0 lead, Philadelphia’s momentum slowed. Despite a 17 shot second period and a 27-18 total shot advantage through two periods, there was a sense that the home team had expended a lot of energy…with the question being whether or not they would have enough in reserve for the third period.

The Blue Jackets, aware of the Flyers’ penchant for third period heroics, knew the game hung on the chance of an early third period goal and came out for the final period on a mission to get one.

Center Brandon Dubinsky would provide that insurance marker when he deflected home a Cam Atkinson shot through Mason’s five hole at the 3:20 mark.

Columbus would continue to put pressure on Mason, but the Flyers goalie was able to stave off further chances to keep his team in the game. Bobrovsky on the other hand maintained his play throughout the contest. Perhaps he wasn’t pressured enough with quality scoring chance by going to the net and getting chances, despite the Flyers’ pronounced shot advantage.

Flyers’ coach Craig Berube thought that his team did get chances, but the Blue Jacket’s dedication to shot blocking played a bigger role.

“I think we’re getting good chances,” Berube said. “They had 22 blocked shots. That’s probably too many and we’ve got to do a better job getting shots through. Getting rebounds, that’s the key. Goalies get out like Bobrovsky in challenge and we’ve got to find ways to get rebounds and get rebound goals. We didn’t do that tonight.”

However, his teammates didn’t have any final period magic in them and any chance Philadelphia had a miracle comeback ended with Giroux’s slashing penalty with 22 seconds remaining.

“Yeah, we came out flat,” Flyers’ forward Scott Hartnell said. “We let them come in our zone too easy and just let them move the puck around way too easy. The first two periods, I thought we battled. We were strong on pucks and everything.”

“Then in the third period, I don’t know if it was that power play goal they scored late or what it was, but to come out in the third period that flat, that was not our M.O. and it hasn’t been our M.O. all year.”

The lack of third period pressure left their coach struggling for answers.

“I don’t know, I really don’t know,” Berube said. “I don’t think our team’s taken anything for granted. (Columbus) came out and stepped their game up in the third period, and we weren’t quite ready for that. That’s what it looked like to me. We were grabbing our heels.”

With the loss, the pressure mounts for the Flyers and their goaltender is well aware of it.

“You’re aware of all the standings right now it’s so tight,” Mason said. “Every game is a must win just because you’re not getting points, other teams are, and you’re sitting idle. So tonight they crept up a little closer to us, and we’re going to have to find a way to win in Boston.”

And that pivotal Eastern Conference game will be played at 1pm on Saturday.

Source:  Andrew King

Source: Andrew King

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