Overcoming the loss of Simon Gagne’s defensive swagger, Jeff Carter’s team-leading scoring streaks and Ian Laperriere’s effort, won’t be easy when the Flyers take on the sixth-seed Boston Bruins in a second-round match up set to begin on Saturday in Bean Town.
But with some line changes and the insertion of certain black aces, the Flyers can only hope to manage the drop off as best they can.
VOORHEES –Three-year rookie camp veteran and former third-round pick Jonathan Matsumoto is in organizational suspended animation.
The once mid-level center prospect, who just three years ago showed promise as a depth player, has quickly stagnated in the Flyers’ system, getting passed on the depth chart by centers Darroll Powe, Jared Ross and Jon Kalinski. And although the soon-to-be 23-year old put up 107 points in 156 games with the Phantoms, he hasn’t seen one minute of NHL ice time.
“If I knew what was holding me back I would have worked on it already,” said smiley and soft spoken Matsumoto. “They told me to come to camp in shape and I’m feeling good now. I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life. Hopefully I just get a chance to show what I can do this year.”
If someone saw Flyers’ forward Jared Ross in the supermarket, they may mistake him for a bagger or cashier. But the diminutive 26-year old with a boyish face and 5-foot-9, 170 lbs. frame has not only played in the NHL, but has done something no one else, big or small, has ever done: Be a native of Alabama and score a goal.
Less than four minutes in the third period of the Flyers – Penguins game three matchup, Ross grabbed an Andrew Alberts rebound and stuck it into the net, giving his team the much-needed insurance goal and 5-2 lead. The tally was not only the first of his career, but inked him into the record books. Ross celebrated accordingly.
For rookie Claude Giroux, it was a game of firsts.
In front of a national audience in a must-win postseason game, many youngsters may be timid. But not Giroux. The rookie out of Gatineau scored his first playoff NHL goal and assist and even had time to get in his first fight, which he won via take down. Giroux powered the Flyers to a 6-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins and helped notch Philly’s first win in the series. The Flyers remain down 2-1 in the best of seven and will return to the Wachovia Center, Tuesday for game four.
After the Penguins silenced the Flyers’ big guns in games one and two, they failed to continue the trend in game three. Jeff Carter opened scoring early in the first period and a few minutes later, Mike Richards tallied on the power play to make it 2-0. The Flyers’ first multi-goal lead of the series. Simon Gagne netted a shorthanded goal from a beautiful pass from Giroux and rookie Jared Ross scored his first-ever NHL goal for the insurance. The Flyers had five different players score, one from each line, an both a shorty and powerplay tally.
But the win wasn’t without a scare. With less than a minute to play in the opening stanza, a failed defensive assignment by multiple Flyers led to an Evgeni Malkin goal to cut the Flyers’ lead in half. The Pens carried the momentum into the second when Rob Scuderi scored from the point, less than a minute into the middle period.
But the Flyers battled back. Giroux regained the lead for the Flyers, burying a perfect pass from Danny Briere, for the 3-2 lead.
Flyers’ fans were absolutely ballistic in what could be the most energetic and exciting game (other than maybe the Montreal – Bruins series) so far in the post season.