Sitting second overall in the gritty Western Conference with 47 points, the Vancouver Canucks are no slouch of an opponent. But when the Flyers hit the ice tonight at 10 PM at Rogers Arena, they might just have history on their side.
Dating back to 1989, when (now general manager) Paul Holmgren was the head coach of the Flyers and the Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel, were eight-years-old, Philadelphia hasn’t lost a game in Vancouver. The odd and probably coincidental statistic spans 10 games, the last being in Oct. 2007, which was a memorable 8-2 Flyers victory. The contest was highlighted by a then-Flyer Jesse Boulerice cross-check to the neck of Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler, which earned the enforcer a hefty suspension.
“There’s no rhyme or reason to it,” said veteran Flyers defenseman Sean O’Donnell. “I mean, they don’t play very often.
“I think it’s meaningful when you see a stat about not having beaten a team in 10 straight, when you play each other a lot, because it’s pretty much the same personnel. But when you stretch it out over 20 years or more, it’s just a bizarre coincidence.”
For the first time in his short career, Flyers’ captain Mike Richards will get the respect his deserves in terms of accolades. The NHL has nominated Richards for the Selke award, for best defensive forward in the league.
Other nominees are Detroit forward and award favorite Pavel Datsyuk and Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler.
Although Datsyuk is the favorite and epitome of two-way forward, Richards may have the resume to de-throne the champion, even though the award is not given as a result of pure stats, but of observation.
Richards scored 30 goals and had 50 assists to go along with his plus-22. He edged all forwards in blocked shots with 90 and led his team in hits with 137. He ranked third in the league, behind Evgeni Malkin and Datsyuk in takeaways with 83.
But where Richards may have the edge on Datsyuk is in shorthanded points.
Richards led the NHL in shorthanded goals with seven and SH points with nine. He also tallied a 5-on-3 goal, the third of his career.
The Flyers’ leader may very well not win the award this season. But with the reputation as a Selke-caliber forward, it won’t be the last chance Richards has to take home the trophy.