Bill Meltzer: Meltzer’s Musings: Flyers Get Off Shootout Schneid, Alumni Benefit Game

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FLYERS GET OFF SHOOTOUT SCHNEID

The Philadelphia Flyers won for the first time in six shootouts this season, defeating the Ottawa Senators, 2-1, after a five-round skills competition at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night. A rather uneventful game through much of the first two periods, the match became a wide-open affair played at a breakneck pace in the latter portion of the game.

Wayne Simmonds, who came into the game with just one goal and three points in his previous nine games, scored the tying goal on a third-period power play and later scored the winning goal in the shootout.

Early in the second period, without much energy or emotion in the game, Simmonds fought Ottawa forward Colin Greening. After the game, Giroux, Brayden Schenn and Flyers coach Craig Berube all pointed to the Simmonds fight as something that spurred the team’s “compete level” a little higher at that juncture of the game.

Winning goaltender Steve Mason turned back 41 of 42 shots in regulation and overtime before stopping four of five in the shootout. The Flyers’ goaltender was named the game’s first star.

Jakub Voracek, who generated a host of scoring chances but came away without a point despite four shots and seven shot attempts, scored in the bottom of the first round of the shootout. Linemate Claude Giroux, making his return to the lineup after a one-game absence due to a skate cut on the back of his left leg, generated eight shots on goal and assisted on Simmonds’ power play goal at 8:59 of the third period.

Ottawa’s lone regulation goal was scored in controversial fashion by Mike Hoffman at 6:36 of the third period.

On the play, Voracek turned the puck over up high in the defensive zone with Giroux and Brayden Schenn in the neutral zone. Jared Cowen appeared to bring the puck in (very narrowly) off-side before the Senators’ touched up at the blueline but no Senators touched the puck over the blueline until Hoffman received the pass after his line had already touched up.

After receiving the puck, Hoffman skated wide around a flat-footed Mark Streit, cut in on Mason in tight quarters and scored. The offside/onside ruling could have gone either way because it was such a split-second play. The real issue was not the official’s ruling but the turnover in a dangerous area and the way Hoffman sped right around the defenders.

The Senators outshot the Flyers by a 37-25 margin after the first period, including 17-13 in the track meet of a third period. Mason was simply outstanding in goal — especially with his glove — as was Craig Anderson (33 saves on 34 shots in regulation and overtime, 4-for-6 in the shootout). Mika Zibanejad scored Ottawa’s lone shootout goal, tallying in the top of the first round.

The Flyers went 1-for-4 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill. For the season, the club is now at 84.5 percent success on the penalty kill at home (11th in the league) compared to their desultory 68 percent on the road.

NOTES AND QUOTES

* Scott Laughton hurried off up the tunnel after blocking a shot in the third period. He seemed OK after the game, walking around the dressing room.

* Brayden Schenn narrowly averted serious injury but still had to take 15 to 20 stitches in his chin. On a late second-period power play, with Schenn and Simmonds battling for a puck behind the Ottawa net, Simmonds’ skate blade caught his teammate in the chin. Schenn returned to the game in the third period.

* Healthy scratches for the Flyers in this game: Zac Rinaldo, Luke Schenn and Carlo Colaiacovo.

* Wayne Simmonds on the team finally winning a shootout: “It feels pretty good, but without Steve Mason we didn’t even get a chance to win that game. He played unbelievable for us and he gave us a shot.”

* Simmonds on the need to have a strategy for a shootout: “I think you have to come in with a plan and have variations of what you will do because it depends on what the goalie does. You have to make the goalie bite first, but if he doesn’t you have to make a good shot.”

* Steve Mason said after the game that he’s been working with goaltending coach Jeff Reese to study what some goalies who have very high career shootout save percentages have done successfully. Specifically,he watched video on Marc-Andre Fleury and Semyon Varlamov.

Said Mason, “Watch a lot of tape on them and Fleury kind of waits for shooters to get over the blue line a couple steps then explodes out. He kind of gives the shooters a little bit of a different look. They see a lot of net with him in the back of the net, flares out and takes it all away. It’s something I tried tonight and actually tried during out last shoot out in Florida as well, and tonight it just went our way.”

* Mason on whether the Hoffman goal was offside: “I didn’t see much of it on video but based on the reactions of some of the guys and the crowd I think it was offside, but at the end of the day you have to play through the whistle.”

* Flyers coach Craig Berube on the Hoffman goal: “Well it looked offsides, but I’m not sure [our defense] stopped. They got caught. They kind of like… we’re going to look at it. I didn’t really have a good chance to look at it yet. I know a couple of our guys got ahead of (Jakub Voracek)on the wall, and he ended up turning it over and they attacked. We kind of got caught. I’m not sure they thought it was offsides or they stopped. I just think they got caught flat footed.”

* Berube on the Flyers’ homestand: “I think in the situation we’re in they’re all big, but this was a real big win. I think coming home after that road trip and now we have a home stand… and just the fashion we won in the shootout, and we hadn’t won in a shootout this year. So it’s going to give us some momentum, but we have to continue to get better and have good energy every night, positive energy. Make sure we’re on our toes skating, being an aggressive hockey team.”

* Simmonds on his fight: “I was just trying to get enthusiasm going. It was going a little bit slow and I was trying to do whatever I could to try and get the guys up and going.”

* Brayden Schenn on the effect the Simmonds fight had on the bench: “A huge boost. You know it’s his second in two games so he’s just trying to get the guys going, and that’s the type of leader he is on the ice. He is emotionally involved in the game and he got us going there.”

* Berube on whether Simmonds is a player capable of lifting the team through a fight as a well as through scoring goals: “Wayne is capable of doing things like that, that other guys aren’t. I mean everybody has to compete, and we need everybody to compete as hard as they can every night.”

********** FLYERS ALUMNI JOIN FIGHT AGAINST IBDs IN BENEFIT GAME

On Jan. 10, the Flyers Alumni team will play a benefit game at the Ice Works in Aston, PA.The game, pitting the Alumni against the Checkmates Charitable Association, will raise money for the fight against Ulceratve Colitis and other inflammatory bowel diseases. Game time is 7:30 p.m.

All proceeds will go to benefit Woodbury Medical Plaza Gastrointestinal Associates (DiMarino-Kroop-Prieto). There will also be a fundraising dinner with the Alumni. Tickets for the game cost $25 for adults and $15 for children 12 and under. Adults can also purchase tickets for the dinner for an additional $10.

For more information on the game and the cause, click here.

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