Richter Steals the Show, Along With Lindros

This was one of the best games so far this season. I know I should not write about games on HTR, but this deserves to be posted, mostly for “A True Hockey Story” for the Eric Lindros saga. Flyers showed a lot of good signs, they had a lot of chances, but Richter shut them down and for the most part, controlled the whole game. The Rangers did win the physical battles however, but this is only the end of the first chapter of the Lindros saga.
The game started really fast, especially for the Flyers. Flyers were skating around and it seemed as if the Rangers were going to lose the game. But, after Richter’s first fantastic saves, the Rangers started to pick up their game with speed and strength. Almost every Ranger forward played physical, and never gave up. Lindros scored the first goal, which irritated the Flyers, and boosted the whole game speed. Still, give credit to the Flyers for doing a lot of offensive work. Dopita played his second NHL season game, and he was not mentioned a whole lot, but he did make one fine pass to Hlavac’s goal. Bill Clement (pro Flyers) did make too much out of it, compared to Messier’s pass to Dvorak Dopita’s wasn’t any better. Hlavac took a shot and it was impossible to save, yet Richter saved 50% of the shot as the puck hit his stick, hit the crease and went in. LeClair is really having a year of frustration, reminding me of Fleury in his first year as a Ranger. LeClair did hit the post directly, right after Malhotra hit the post on the other end. Johnsson played a fabulous game. I was really happy for Johnsson and he is, should be, the Flyers best defenseman thus far. He was a threat on the Flyers power-plays, reminding me of Leetch when he sneaked to the net. Hlavac did score a goal, but rarely did I hear his name. Brendl was a healthy scratch, so was Ciger. Roenick was an active player tonight. He played really well and made one awesome move on Ulanov and Richter to tie the game at 2 a piece. Not even Jagr would have thought of doing such a move. However, for the rest of the game Roenick’s name was not mentioned too often, except when Lindros nailed him very hard to the bench’s boards. Chechmanek played very well but not well enough to stop the Rangers, he simply got beat on Dvorak’s and Nedved’s goal. He did make marvelous saves, especially on Messier, and twice or three times on Dvorak. Williams played really well too, showing some speed and a very nice shot too. Still, I am very upset at Barber. The Flyers are playing well but there is no sense of chemistry, or little if it exists. They play a very simple style of hockey, which is still very dangerous. They dump the puck in, do the fore-checking (clap clap for Primeau to know what a fore-checker does) and throw the puck to the net to get rebounds, deflections, or to create a lot of traffic so the defensemen might slip a puck in the net. Problem is, they don’t build a lot of chemistry from that. There should be a line that a team fears a lot, and they don’t have one. Thumbs down for Billy Barber, he should try to find chemistry with Doita, Hlavac, and Recchi playing together.

Rangers on the other hand, played a different style of game. Not all the lines did what the Flyers did. Rangers would only dump the puck in to fore-check if the blue line was impossible to get through. The Flyers defense was pretty weak, as it let players like Dvorak, York, Fleury, Nedved, and Leetch skate around too much. Dvorak could have scored an easy Hat Trick if he did score on his chances, and a big mistake by he Flyers to let him have all those chances. Lindros played a pretty good game, nothing flashy. Sure, he scored a goal that was nice, not thrilling, but nice. And who is to blame for Eric’s goal? Flyers defense, he was left alone. York played a fantastic game, and I am glad that York got to show his talents on national TV. Fleury played great. Mighty mite has the heart to check a big strong defenseman like McGillis, without any fears. Fleury did just about everything he could do, score a goal, draw a penalty, and hit. It was scary to see Desjardins terrible careless use of his stick as it chopped Fleury’s chin/throat. But, Fleury was fine and played the rest of the game where he left of. The rest of the forwards played well, and I give a lot of credit to Manny Malhotra. Coming back from an injury, Manny hit a post, and fore-checked really well. He and Dvorak are starting to gel again, along with Messier who played an average game, by making one heck of a pass to Dvorak. The defense was pretty good; not as good as it was in the past five games. Although they let the Flyers add scoring chances, they played great on the PK, and they played responsible. Responsible as in, stay with the opponent, block shots, and find the rebounds. Leetch played really well. Not only did he deck Williams hard, but you can see how comfortable he is playing in his zone with Malakhov. Kloucek played hard, Karpa played hard, and Berard played very well too, checking LeClair in the neutral zone. Unfortunately, Purinton and Ulanov were responsible for the Flyers’ two goals. Purinton pinched in at the wrong time, and Roenick just faked Ulanov (would love to see the replay on that again), so Ulanov was very responsible for that goal. Richter is old and washed up? Well, he played as if he is in the top 3 goaltenders in the league this season so far. He feels very comfortable with the way the defense plays. If Richter faces 20 shots in a game, guess what? He will let a soft one in. If Richter has a solid defense to clear rebounds and faces around 30 to 40 shots, then he will play great. Plus, Richter has time to practice because of Blackburn’s fine play, and he gets a lot of rest.

So, the game was great as I wished it to be. Flyers played really well, it’s not like the Rangers outplayed them. I really am confused however, why doesn’t this team score? Roenick scored his first in 10 games? How is that possible? Could it be the coaching? Well, this is what Rangers fans asked when the Rangers and Low allowed 3 to 5 goals a night, and lost. But, look at the Rangers now, Low is doing one fine job. Why? Because he let the players build their chemistry, and the defense has a better strategy. Barber should take this into consideration, especially with the team he has. Gagne should be scoring lots of goals, and Primeau, and Roenick, and obviously you cannot expect too much from Hlavac, but try to find the right line-mate. Flyers fans, your team has great players, players that are able to win, to score, to play great defense, good goaltending, and to raise a Cup. So, start questioning Barber, not the team itself. I bet that if Nolan were the coach, the Flyers would be on winning streaks. Rangers played a careful game, and their offense is very strong. If you know you have a strong offense that can score, then definitely go for a committed to defense style of hockey. Richter was fabulous. Referees were just plain horrible. Hlavac is known to dive a lot, and he did take a dive on Fleury’s quote on quote “hook”. Then, give me a break, you think Nedved could pull down a guy like Primeau? There goes another little dive. Referees were pretty bad, but they let the players play a lot, maybe too much interfering. Lindros wanted this win badly, and he got it. But, Lindros is mostly happy about the game being over, since the media attacked him with questions. Rangers move on to stretch their winning streak to 6. Flyers move on to see what is the right formula to equal wins and goals.

Micki Peroni

micki@hockeytraderumors.com


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