STONED IN THE ROCKIES
Flyers gave it their all, but struggled to solve Avs Varlamov in 2-1 loss
DENVER – Craig Berube doesn’t usually address the Flyers in the locker room immediately after a game.
With just five minutes before the cameras and the media questions start flying, the players need that brief respite to decompress and compose themselves.
Following their 2-1 loss to Colorado Thursday that snapped a four-game winning streak, Berube felt like he needed to say something to his team, even if it was for just a brief moment.
“Chief came in and said, ‘Keep your [bleeping] heads up,’” Zac Rinaldo said. “He said, ‘You guys played a good, character game and you need to take a lot from this game.’”
It was his way of letting the team know that he appreciated their effort, despite the loss. And he had his reasons.
|Braydon Coburn battles U.S. Olympian Paul Stasny for a puck in a tightly contested, physical game between the Flyers and the Avs.
“It was a pretty even game that had good opportunities either way,” he said. “The guys battled hard, we just couldn’t find the back of the net enough.”
That was primarily because Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov put on a performance that was reminiscent of when his coach [Patrick Roy] was playing.
Varlamov made 29 saves, which might not seem like an overly abundant number. Yet, many of those saves rung 10 bells and kept the Flyers from tying the game.
In short, the Flyers, who had been pumping in goals at a stellar rate (34 goals in the previous eight games) got stoned, which isn’t all that different from a lot of people in Denver lately.
Nevertheless, they pushed and pushed and pushed to tie it, emptying their tank in the third period trying to knot the score, but to no avail.
“We didn’t have any passengers,” Berube said. “The team showed up and played a good, solid, hard game. It’s tough to come to Colorado and play in the high altitude. It’s not easy. The air is thin. But our guys were smart. They kept their shifts short and did a good job.”
It was even more so because the Flyers were shorthanded most of the night.
Already down a top nine forward with Matt Read missing the game with an upper body injury, Michael Raffl left the game late in the first period with a concussion after being hit into the boards by Gabriel Landeskog.
The hit didn’t draw a penalty, although it was borderline interference, but it was not a dirty or suspension-worthy hit by any means and Berube didn’t have a problem with it either.
|MIchael Raffl has been such a pleasant surprise for the Flyers, but now he has a concussion and will miss at least the next game in Phoenix, if not more.|
It did force Berube to kind of juggle lines a bit to make up for the missing pair of forwards, but it didn’t seem to affect the Flyers too much as they still were able to give a good Avalanche team everything they had.
“We had a lot of chances and [Varlamov was moving East-West and he was there to make the saves,” said Scott Hartnell. “Sometimes you just run into a hot goalie and you can’t do anything about it. We fought hard and we had lots of chances, still, the couple shifts we didn’t play well we turned it over and the puck ended up in our net, so we still have to play a clean game.”
On the first goal, Sean Couturier lost the puck in the neutral zone and Erik Johnson pounced on it, he slid a pass to Matt Duchene who was robbed with a pad stop by Steve Mason – who was outstanding again – but Jamie McGinn, brother of Flyers prospect Tye McGinn, beat both Couturier and Steve Downie to the rebound and Mason had no chance to stop that one.
On the second Colorado goal, a shot by Luke Schenn was blocked, sending the Avs on a rush the other way. Ryan O’Reilly and Landeskog worked a give and go to perfection to get around Schenn and O’Reilly’s shot went off of the top of Mason’s right pad, took an unfortunate bounce upward and over the goalie’s shoulder and into the net.
“It was a pretty crappy break,” Mason said.
That’s as close as the Flyers could get though as Varlamov made several big saves – stopping a Downie breakaway and later a Downie stuffer in front. He also nixed a couple of good chances by Hartnell and stopped Simmonds from in close. Even Claude Giroux was impressed.
“We played a good game and they’re a good team,” Giroux said. “The effort was there and the guys worked really hard. We had a lot of chances. We have to keep our head up. I thought my shot from the half wall… I don’t know how he got it. I guess it got a part of his glove or something. It’s times like that when it’s not going to go in, but we have to stay positive and continue to believe in ourselves.”
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers