Bill Meltzer: Meltzer’s Musings: Flyers Fire Blanks in Toronto, Rookies win in Newark

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FLYERS FIRE BLANKS, DROP 4-0 DECISION IN TORONTO

One night after being unable to protect a 2-0 lead and sustaining a shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at Budweiser Gardens in London, Ont., the Philadelphia Flyers laid a goose egg in a horrid 4-0 loss at the American Airlines Center in Toronto. Leading 1-0 through two periods, the Leafs poured on three — nearly four — more goals in the final 20 minutes.

Former Flyers forward James van Riemsyk, Brandon Kozun (shorthanded), Cody Franson and 2014 first-round pick William Nylander scored for the Leafs. Jonathan Bernier made 12 mostly routine saves in a half game’s worth of action, while Antoine Bibeau went the rest of the way to turn back all 15 shots fired on his net.

Steve Mason (28 saves on 32 shots) went the distance in net for the Flyers. His performance was uneven. Mason authored about five excellent saves but also would have liked to have had back one or two of the goals he yielded.

The JVR goal at 13:33 of the first period was a beauty into the short side top corner from close range. With Mason down to try to take away the net, the ex-Flyer basically had the chance to pick his spot over Mason’s stick-side shoulder from a tight angle.

The 1-0 score held until 4:54 of the third period, which was when the wheels truly started to fall off for the Flyers. Philly yielded a 2-on-1 rush while on the power play. Michael Del Zotto was unable to prevent a cross-ice pass from Trevor Smith to Kozun. Mason had no chance on that one.

Franson’s goal at 9:37 of the final stanza put the game away. The goal was a long distance shot from the point that Mason simply failed to track.

Shortly thereafter, Van Riemsdyk appeared to have his second goal of the game but the goal was disallowed. Finally, with time ticking down into the final minute, Nylander closed out the scoring from near the net at 19:03. Phil Kessel drew the primary assist.

Mason didn’t have much help throughout large segments of the game. The team defense was lackluster, the offense virtually non-existent. Back-to-back strong shifts were rare, and Philly got outshot in all three periods. They were undisciplined with and without the puck and pretty much stopped competing over the course of the third period.

The best thing that can be said for the game from a Flyers’ standpoint is that it was a just preseason game and still essentially a split squad roster. Much of the lineup consisted of players bound for the American Hockey League or the bottom part of the NHL lineup.

The Flyers dressed mostly the same lineup as they used in the London split-squad game. This was a necessity because the players who stayed back in Philadelphia for Monday’s split-squad 5-4 win over the Washington Capitals did not make the trip to Toronto.

In last night’s game, Philly dressed forwards Sean Couturier (minus-two, two shots), Matt Read (minus-two, zero shots), Wayne Simmonds (minus-two, zero shots) as the top line. The lineup also featured Michael Raffl (minus-two, two shots), Jason Akeson (minus-two, team high six shots), Scott Laughton (minus-one, 53 percent of faceoffs won, two shots, one hit in 18:41 of ice time), Zac Rinaldo (minus one, two hits, three blocks, one minor penalty), Stortini (two hits, 29 PIM in 7:30 TOI), Darroll Powe (11:11 TOI), Nick Cousins (minus-one, 14:20 TOI), Brandon Alderson (minus-one, three hits, two blocks, one shot, 12:30 TOI) and Jay Rosehill (two hits, one takeaway in 9:22 TOI).

For the second straight night, recently signed Phantoms enforcer Stortini dropped the gloves in the first period. This time, he fought David Broll. By the end of the night, Stortini racked up 29 minutes worth of penalties, including a pair of misconducts, an unsportsmanlike conduct minor and a boarding minor for a hit from behind on Jake Gardiner.

The Philly blueline consisted of a top pairing of Del Zotto (minus-three, three shots, six hits, two blocks in 22:53 of ice time) and Luke Schenn (minus-two, two hits, three blocks in 18:02 TOI). The rest of the defense featured a pairing of Samuel Morin (21:13 TOI, four shots, four hits, even plus-minus) and Mark Alt (20:05 TOI, two shots, one hits). The third pairing consisted of Oliver Lauridsen (16:29 TOI, minus-one, six hits) and veteran Nick Schultz (minus-one, 2 PIM, two hits, one block, one giveaway in 17:15).

It is worth noting that Nicklas Grossmann is the lone Flyers regular apart from captain Claude Giroux (lower body injury, out two weeks) who has yet to appear in a preseason game. Everyone else appeared either in the London/Toronto games or against the Capitals in Philadelphia.

The Flyers will have an off day on Wednesday. Tomorrow they will take on the New Jersey Devils in a preseason game at the Wells Fargo Center.

This post originally appeared on www.hockeybuzz.com and we thank them for permission to rebroadcast it here.

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