Maple Leafs Downed By Flyers
Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Hartnell picked up a Gordie Howe hatrick, while the rest of the Flyers squad dominated the Maple Leafs in the physical department, as the Toronto Maple Leafs lost a hard fought contest to the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.
Hartnell opened the scoring at the 14:38 mark of the first period giving the Flyers a 1-0 lead. seconds earlier Hartnell was taken down at the back of the net by Maple Leafs defenseman, but Hartnell fought his way to the front of the net where he potted his 26th goal of the season.
Rewind to last weeks All-Star Game where Hartnell and Phaneuf had an interesting exchange.
With many players wearing microphones for the duration of the All-Star Game the odd bout of questionable language was bound to be heard. That said, nobody was prepared for what Hartnell said after Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf gave away the puck in his own zone, which led to a team Alfredsson goal when Henrik Sedin tipped one past goaltender Jimmy Howard at the 12:51 mark of the first period.
Hartnell, who was added to the All-Star roster when several NHL players including Washington Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin pulled out of the contest, would draw an assist on the play, after which he could clearly be heard saying “suck it Phaneuf” during his celebration of the goal.
After Hartnell scored on Thursday night he tapped Phaneuf on the shin pads, which ignited Phaneuf, as the two threw down.
While neither player said the two incidents were related, one wonders if Phaneuf was looking for an excuse to tussle with Hartnell?
Either way, Hartnell emerged from the fight unscathed, scoring a goal and adding an assist for a two point night and first star honors.
The Flyers played their game against the Maple Leafs—dominating the Maple Leafs along boards and in the physical department for most of the night, while peppering Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer with 39 shots on the night.
At the end of the day, try as they might, the Maple Leafs were bested by the Flyers by a final score of 4-3. Don’t get me wrong, the Maple Leafs worked hard, brought a great effort Thursday night, but it wasn’t enough against a tough Flyers squad which continues to prove why they are still a Stanley Cup favorite.
If you are looking for positives, Joffrey Lupul had a two point game, earning third star honors, while Tyler Bozak had two goals on the evening, including a beautiful wrister from a tough angle in the second period to pull the Maple Leafs within one goal of the Flyers.
The Maple Leafs were also perfect on the penalty kill once again, making it 28 kills in 17 games in 2012, while Reimer played a decent game, making 35 saves on 39 shots.
What it all boils down to is another game in which the Maple Leafs fell short to a team that they may very well meet in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Maple Leafs failed to give Reimer a chance to win, abandoning him on more than one occasion. The Leafs also failed to use their speed effectively against the Flyers until the second period, at which point it was simply too late.
While nobody is suggesting the Maple Leafs got pushed around by the Flyers, there were times that the Maple Leafs could have used an extra measure of toughness against the Flyers, especially on the backend where several D-men were invisible on the night.
Toronto has now dropped two in a row, have slipped from seventh to eighth place in the Eastern Conference and will now set their focus on the Montreal Canadiens, whom they play Saturday night.
The Habs are playing better hockey of late, winning three in a row. The Maple Leafs sit just one point ahead of the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference standings, so there is no room for error Saturday night, the Maple Leafs must find a way to win.
Until next time,