Monday, March 23, 2009

A healthy Briere leads Flyers past Devils

(AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
The Flyers are playing their best hockey of the season at just the right time. With just a handful of games left in the season and playoff positioning on the line, the Flyers played two of their most inspiring games of hockey in the last two days. First, the Flyers downed Sidney Crosby and the Penguins on Sunday, then Monday they took care of Martin Brodeur and the Devils.

Lead by the resurgent Danny Briere (5 points in his last 3 games), who had a goal and an assist, and Simon Gagne, who had a goal and two assists, the Flyers defeated the Devils 4-2. Briere set the tone for the game with a nice deflection goal in the first period and a beautiful pass to Mike Knuble to set up the Flyers second goal. Claude Giroux also had a superb game, highlighted by his sick no-look pass to Gagne for a goal in the 3rd period. Jeff Carter also added his 40th goal of the season, hopefully the first of many 40-goal seasons for the young forward.

The Flyers looked especially good on special teams, where they scored 3 power play goals and allowed the Devils to score only once with the man advantage despite taking a number of penalties and having long stretches of penalties to kill. The Flyers still commit way too many penalties, and better offensive teams will burn them, but their penalty killing units looked strong tonight.

Also looking strong in the game was Marty Biron, who out-dueled the other Marty on the ice. Biron stopped 32 of 34 shots and has long since made everyone forget that there was ever a goaltender controversy in Philly (Antero who?). With the way Biron is playing, they are going to have to get him signed to a deal and not allow him to leave via free agency in the offseason.

With the win, the Flyers stay in the 4th spot in the East and move within 7 points of the Devils for the 2nd spot. With 10 games left to play, it will take a monumental collapse by New Jersey for the Flyers to move any higher, but their stranglehold on the 4th spot is only getting stronger.

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