The Philadelphia Flyers badly needed a win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 9. Flyers fans like myself were already concerned about a season-long three-game winless streak - which could have easily stretched to six with games against the New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings looming this weekend. However, Philadelphia now has a chance to start a winning streak again after pulling out a 4-3 win over Toronto.
Things started both promisingly and ominously at the same time, as the Flyers outshot the Maple Leafs by 16-5 in the first period, yet were only up by 1-0 on goals. This was an unpleasant flashback to Philadelphia's 1-0 loss to the New York Islanders on Feb. 7, where it outshot New York by 45-18 and got no goals to show for it. However, goals came fast and furious for both teams in the second period.
Not only did the Flyers start scoring, Claude Giroux got on the board as well, which has been a very rare thing since he returned from a concussion. By then, Philadelphia and Toronto had already been trading goals in the first minutes of the period, as Giroux's tally gave the Flyers a 3-2 lead right back. But then Brayden Schenn finally gave them a cushion with another strike 64 seconds later.
Philadelphia would need that cushion after Toronto cut the lead back in half three minutes later. Yet after a furious six-goal second period, the Flyers and Maple Leafs got back to shutting each other down in the third. That turned out to be more beneficial for the Flyers, as Sergei Bobrovsky settled back down to secure the important victory.
The one win doesn't disguise how the Flyers still have to face the NHL's two best teams this weekend. Since the Rangers have had Philadelphia's number all year and the Red Wings haven't lost in Detroit since 2011, this weekend could be just as bad as the last one was. But it is better to face such a challenging stretch after a win than it is to come in on a four-game losing streak.
Philadelphia is going to have to crawl again before it can walk, so beating a Toronto team that had been 5-1-1 in its previous six games was a good step. Now the Flyers must hope that a few more substantial steps are in order soon, as things are still pretty fragile right now.
They are falling further behind the elite like the Rangers and Red Wings the more they struggle, so beating them to stop the bleeding would make a statement in a number of ways. At the least, the Flyers will start off after putting a band-aid on.
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident and a Flyers fan since the age of eight.
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