Second Period Propels Flyers
Flyers 5, Islanders 1
By Kerry Gwydir
(Nov. 29) After the Isles failed to convert on a four-minute
powerplay early in the second, Philadelphia reeled off five second-
period tallies en route to a 5-1 win on Saturday night at the
The Islanders had displayed plenty of vigor in the first period as
Janne Niinimaa's powerplay goal broke a 0-for-26 streak to put the
Isles on the board first. The Islanders have now dropped five-
straight and have been out-scored in their last three games, 13-1.
The Flyers went on the powerplay four minutes into the opener when
Eric Cairns cross-checked down Sami Kapanen. The defenseman did that
after the Isles failed to clear their zone on consecutive
opportunities, which led to potential scoring threats in front. Rick
DiPietro was the most important penalty killer during the two minutes
as he warded off four quality Philly shots - including a pair of
screen blasts from Eric Desjardins.
Sven Butenschon initiated the first big-time scoring chance for the
Islanders midway through the period as he joined a 2-on-2 in the
Flyer end. His backhander from the right faceoff dot beat Hackett,
but skimmed wide of the net as Mariusz Czerkawski tried to tap home
The Islander powerplay was granted their first opportunity 11 minutes
in when Mark Recchi was called for an offensive zone infraction.
Trent Hunter had a pair of golden tries early on to put one home. He
hit the post from in-close range on his first try, then followed it
up by nearly beating Hackett over the shoulder. The Isles buzzed on
the man-up scenario finished off as Oleg Kvasha beat Hackett along
the ice during a scramble in front, but missed the left pipe.
Hustle by Sean Bergenheim and Justin Mapletoft minutes later drew
another Philly penalty, this time a hooking infraction to Donald
Brashear. With 6:01 left in the opener, the Isles finally broke their
powerplay drought as Niinimaa ripped an Adrian Aucoin feed off the
left post and into the net. Shawn Bates started the goal sequence by
winning a puck battle to the right of the Flyers' net. It broke a 0-
for-26 schneid for the powerplay unit.
Brashear got the gate again in the final minute with another penalty,
and followed it up with an unsportsmanlike conduct call to give the
Isles a wat ended up to be a critical four-minute powerplay. The
Isles failed to convert, and it turned into the momentum-changer in
this one as Philly came right down to tie the match. John Leclair
rifled home a howitzer from the right faceoff dot that beat DiPietro
cleanly over the glove at the 3:47 mark of the second -- and the
Islander tailspin began.
Two shifts later, Mark Recchi recorded a powerplay goal as Bergenheim
was off for roughing. The Flyer winger banged a sharp-angled try off
DiPietro after the goaltender had extended himself on a blast by Joni
Pitkanen that had missed the net. Two Islander defensemen went to
Jeremy Roenick after the Flyer center had pumped a shot from in-close
on net. He got his own rebound, circled in front and found the
unchecked Recchi alone for the score.
With 5:52 left in the second, Brashear made up for his penalties by
increasing the visitors' lead to three. The winger snapped a
wristshot from the top of the slot over DiPietro's glove to complete
a play that started in the Philly end of the ice. Chris Therien
rushed the puck up ice as he received a Michal Handzus pass at his
own blueline. As the defender stepped over the Islander blueline on a
3-on-2, Therien fed Brashear in the middle of the slot.
The Islander penalty-killing continued to betray them with 3:09 to go
when Simon Gagne pounded home a rebound of a Kim Johnsson shot that
skipped in front. DiPietro didn't protect the low part of the net as
Gagne gained position on Roman Hamrlik and batted the puck over the
Philly right wing Justin Williams completed the scoring in the second
as he converted a 2-on-1 over DiPietro's glove in the final minute of
the second. It started when Niinimaa lost the puck at the Flyer
blueline, starting the Philly rush the other way. To start the third
period and finish the night, Garth Snow relieved DiPietro, who had
faced just 18 shots. Snow stopped all seven shots he faced and was
tagged for three penalties in the final stanza.
The Islanders play their next four games at the Coliseum, starting
with Washington on Tuesday and then the surging Rangers on Thursday.
Flyers hammer reeling Islanders
By PETER BOTTE
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER
There are 60 games remaining for the Islanders, who at some point must decide whether they even hope to avoid losing in a couple of them.
Because things are getting more hideous, more depressing and more dysfunctional by the New York minute at Nassau Coliseum, where the Isles were bludgeoned for the second straight game, 5-1, last night by the NHL-leading Flyers.
"Some guys in here need to take a good hard look in the mirror and start caring a little more," winger Jason Blake said. "It isn't the first of December. The month's over, but the season's not over yet. I think some guys think that they can float through the rest of the season and wait till next year.
"It's going to be a long year if this keeps up."
Following up a 6-0 humiliation the previous night in Detroit with a 17-shot clunker against a division rival, the ragged Isles had their price-gouged and fed-up fans chanting for refunds late in the five-goal second period.
There also were a few turn-back-the-clock murmurs for the head of GM Mike Milbury.
The Isles, losers of five straight and eight of 10 since the waiving of the apparently indispensable fringe winger Jason Wiemer, have been outscored 15-2 in their last four games to plummet to 9-11-2 overall.
"I don't think the record even matters. Losing's losing, but losing with this effort? We deserve to lose," Blake said. "When something like this happens, there's a lot of finger-pointing. Everyone questions everyone. When you're winning it's great. Right now it's as bad as it can get."
Rick DiPietro was yanked after getting pounded for all five goals in the second, suffering his fourth straight defeat to slide to 6-7-2.
The Isles appeared to be skating hard early on; they ended an 0-for-25 power-play skid on Janne Niinimaa's one-timer at 13:59 of the first.
But the game got ugly in a hurry in the middle period, with the Flyers cashing in on every Islander mistake and goals by John LeClair, Mark Recchi, Donald Brashear, Simon Gagne and Justin Williams.
And the booing and chanting grew increasingly vociferous with each one.
"Look at our fans, they're booing us. Did you ever think that was going to happen again? I never did," Blake said. "It's not about getting it done, it's about wanting to get it done. And that's the case right now.
"It's not much fun to be a part of."
HEY, AT LEAST THEY SCORED
By EVAN GROSSMAN
November 30, 2003 -- Unlike a night earlier, the Islanders skated and worked, and looked like they gave a hoot.
Well, for at least 20 minutes, en route to an atrocious 5-1 loss to the Flyers.
"Right now it's as bad as it can get," Jason Blake said.
As Steve Stirling likes to say, "the good news" was, on their second power play of the night, Janne Niinimaa snapped an 0-for-26 skid with the extra man with a right-point slap that beat Jeff Hackett at 13:59 of the first period. Niinimaa's goal ended a 134:40 goal drought for the Islanders that went back to the final minute of last Sunday's loss in Columbus and sparked the first chant of the night:
"Holy [bleep]. It's a power-play goal!"
But all those good vibrations ended just four minutes into the second period, when Rick DiPietro allowed the first of five unanswered goals, one seemingly softer than the next. As for the Flyers, they simply cruised in extending their unbeaten streak to 12 games.
Right about the time the officials plucked the first of those five pucks out of the Islanders' net was about exactly the time the Isles' feet stopped moving and their shoulders began to slump.
"Maybe we put a little too much stress on ourselves," Adrian Aucoin said.
John LeClair uncorked the Flyers' first goal from the right-wing wall after pulling the puck out of a 2-on-1 battle. Mark Recchi beat DiPietro 1:50 later - nine seconds into a Philadelphia power play - when Jeremy Roenick found him all alone on the right post for a what would be the game-inner.
The most regrettable goal against occurred when Donald Brashear, hardly a sniper by any means, wired a wrist shot over DiPietro's deep-fried catching glove at 14:08 of the second. Less than three minutes after that, Simon Gagne converted on a pretty backhand move for another power-lay goal. Justin Williams beat DiPietro again over the mitt with less than a minute left in the period for an insurmountable 5-1 lead.
With the chants moving from simple booing to the Coliseum oldie-but-goodie "Mike Must Go," to the very appropriate "Re-fund," it was less than a deliriously jovial atmosphere here. DiPietro was pulled in favor of Garth Snow after two periods of play, in which the youngster allowed the final three of those five back-breaking goals on four shots.
Not for nothing, but the Islanders have yet to see one of their two goalies steal a game for them this season. And now they've lost five in a row, the most since they dropped six consecutive between last October and November.
So Steve Stirling was asked how to stop the bleeding.
"The biggest Band-Aid you can find me," he said.
* Eric Godard (shoulder sprain) did not play . . . Not that it mattered, but the Isles' lines were a bit different with Arron Asham back with Alexei Yashin and Oleg Kvasha, while Mariusz Czerkawski skated with Justin Papineau and Mike Peca. Mark Parrish played with Sean Bergenheim and Justin Mapletoft.
Fans Double Up on Boos After Second Period
November 30, 2003
As the losses continue to mount for the Islanders, so do the questions about their fragile locker room. The team that sandbagged its coach and bickered among itself last season again is coming apart at the seams when the going gets tough.
"When something like this happens, there's a lot of finger-pointing and everyone questions everyone," Jason Blake said after last night's 5-1 loss to the Flyers at Nassau Coliseum extended the losing streak to five. "When you're winning, it's great. When you're losing, it's bad. And right now it's as bad as it can get."
So bad that the Coliseum crowd of 13,029 booed the team off the ice after a five-goal second period by the Flyers turned a 1-0 Islanders lead into a blowout. The fans again booed when the Islanders came back on for the third period.
"I mean, look at our fans, they're booing us," Blake said. "Did you ever think that was gonna happen again? I never did. It's tough right now."
It isn't going to get much easier. The month of December brings a challenging schedule of 15 games in 31 days, many against Atlantic Division opponents. There are two more games against the Flyers, three against the Devils and two against the Rangers.
"I know we can get it done," Blake said. "It's just a matter of we gotta come out with a solid effort and keep it going. Not just one shift here and one shift there. We've got to do it all the time."
Eric Godard missed last night's game with a shoulder strain suffered in Friday's game at Detroit. He is listed as day-to-day . . . Radek Martinek was a healthy scratch last night, replaced by Sven Butenschon . . . Garth Snow took Rick DiPietro's place in goal in the third period and made seven saves ... Jeff Hackett had to make only 16 saves for the Flyers ... Roger Farina, who last season won the NHL's Seventh Man Award as fan of the year, participated in a ceremonial faceoff at the start of the game. Farina, home on leave from the Army, has served most recently in Iraq.
The Beating Goes On
Flyers, with five goals in second, overpower Isles
By Alan Hahn
November 30, 2003
The free-falling Islanders might have finally hit rock bottom last night. Their words after another thrashing - this one a 5-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at Nassau Coliseum - were more honest and concerned than terse and defensive.
Quite simply, as defenseman Adrian Aucoin said, "We're pretty fragile right now, obviously."
They are officially on the ropes with a fifth straight loss that drops them 14 points behind the Flyers, who are unbeaten in 12 (10-0-2) and are first overall in the NHL, the East and the Atlantic Division.
The Islanders (20 points) have just two wins in their past 10. More importantly, motivational issues that sank the team last season under former coach Peter Laviolette have re-emerged.
"Some guys in here need to take a good, hard look in the mirror and start caring a little more," forward Jason Blake said. "The season's not over yet. I think some guys think they can float through the rest of the season, wait until next year. It's gonna be a long year if this keeps up."
It's already been a long drought for key players such as Alexei Yashin, who has gone 11 games without a goal. He saw just 16:02 of ice time and produced one shot on goal.
Captain Michael Peca played just 13:32 and didn't record a shot on goal.
Mariusz Czerkawski, who has gone into a deep freeze since opening the season with 10 goals in his first 13 games, was given just 8:09 overall and only 12 seconds of the Islanders' 6:11 of power-play time. He had two shots.
Mark Parrish (minus-2) played just 12:51 and didn't record a shot.
Coach Steve Stirling wouldn't admit he was benching his struggling veterans, nor would he acknowledge Blake's suggestion that the team has a few floaters right now. "I don't know if there were floaters," Stirling said. "Some guys just didn't have it tonight."
The Islanders took a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal by Janne Niinimaa in the first period. The goal was the first in 26 power plays for the Islanders and also ended a scoring drought of 134:40. But they accomplished little else.
The Flyers scored five times in the second period, including twice on the power play, to break open the game. Rick DiPietro (13 saves), who lost his fourth straight start, was pulled after the second period.
He blamed himself for giving up the Flyers' first goal, by John LeClair at 3:47 of the second, which started the avalanche. It was a blast from the right circle. "It was something that sent them on their way and changed the momentum," DiPietro said. "You can't let in those kind of goals when you're in a slump."
At the final buzzer, those who remained from a crowd that had chanted "Refund!" and "Mike Must Go!" showered the Islanders with boos.
"We deserved to lose," Blake said. "That's the bottom line. We play good in spurts. But for the most part, two or three goals, we get behind the eight-ball and the roof caves in."
INSIDE GAME 22
RECORD: 9-11-2-0 LAST SEASON: 8-11-3-0
MINUS: The Islanders didn't acknowledge former Islander Claude Lapointe, who played 535 games for them before he was traded late last season.
MINUS: It's been too long since the stars have scored - Alexei Yashin (11 games), Michael Peca (10), Jason Blake (seven) and Mariusz Czerkawski (six).
Radio: ESPN (1050)
Flyers erupt for five goals in period
Their unbeaten streak reached 12 games in a rout of the Islanders. Five different players scored.
By Tim Panaccio
Inquirer Staff Writer
UNIONDALE, N.Y. - It was just a snapshot in what has become the longest Flyers unbeaten streak in more than five seasons, yet it illustrates how quickly Ken Hitchcock's club can turn a game inside out.
The shorthanded Flyers had just survived more than three minutes of pressure from the Islanders in the second period thanks to goalie Jeff Hackett's pads, and were embracing a 2-1 lead.
Then Eric Desjardins had a loose puck in the right corner. The veteran defenseman made an outlet pass to Michal Handzus, who quickly flipped it across to Chris Therien roaring up center ice.
Crossing into the Islanders' zone, Therien turned to face Donald Brashear and gave him a clean, short pass. Brashear beat goalie Rick DiPietro with a wrist shot between the circles for a two-goal lead that drained the energy out of the Islanders' bench last night at the Nassau Coliseum.
The Flyers scored all their goals that period and won in a rout, 5-1, extending their unbeaten streak to 12 games (10-0-2) while opening up a five-point lead on New Jersey and Boston for the Eastern Conference lead. The Flyers have 34 points.
"Winning is a feeling," Hitchcock said. "There is a feeling in our locker room that whenever they come to the rink that day, they are going to win."
They won this one convincingly.
"When we're playing well, we know they will make mistakes and it will open up things for us," Brashear said. "We kept getting chances and chances."
They turned the chances into points.
John LeClair, despite a line demotion, had two points, giving him 600 as a Flyer. He needs one more to tie Rod Brind'Amour, who is seventh on the club's all-time list.
Jeremy Roenick's line continued to batter opposing goaltenders, racking up two more points on the power play. That's eight power-play goals in seven games for the Flyers, who entered the game ranked second in the NHL in that category (25.9 percent efficiency).
The Flyers, who haven't lost since Oct. 30, ended November unbeaten (10-0-2).
"That's the first time I ever went through that in my career," Roenick said. "It's nice. It's momentum to keep it going."
Hackett (7-2-3) had 16 saves.
Asked whether he ever had a month going unbeaten before, he quipped, "maybe a week."
The Flyers played sloppily in the opening period. Their passes were off skates or sticks, their shots were off target or lacked velocity, their breakout was laced with turnovers. They resorted to finesse instead of muscle on some plays and had the puck jammed back down their throats.
Their penalty-killing units, which came into play ranked fourth, gave up a power-play goal for the sixth consecutive game.
The Islanders, who were humiliated, 6-0, on Friday in Detroit, came at the Flyers.
Janne Niinimaa's second goal of the season, on a shot from the right point, accounted for the Islanders' only goal.
The second period was a different game.
LeClair, who was moved to Claude Lapointe's fourth line with Radovan Somik, scored his fourth goal at 3 minutes, 47 seconds to tie the game with his trademark slapshot, this time from the right circle.
"I didn't try to kill it; I just shot it," LeClair said.
"That was a rocket," Hackett added.
Two minutes later, the Flyers took a 2-1 lead on Mark Recchi's team-high 10th goal. Joni Pitkanen shot the puck from the left point and Roenick dug it out from behind the boards, fed Recchi at the right post, and he tipped it past DiPietro. It was Recchi's 13th power-play point (five goals, eight assists).
"If we do the right things, play hard, compete, it's all right there for us," Recchi said. "We've got some breathing room now on New Jersey."
Roenick's line with Recchi and Tony Amonte has 25 goals and 59 points in 19 games. Recchi and Amonte have additional points with other partners.
"That feeling of winning every day only comes when you're rolling like we are now," Roenick said. "Guys know their roles and the system. When you put that confidence together with repetition every game, you become very confident, even when they score a goal against you."
Hackett had several fine stops on Roman Hamrlik, Hunter and Alexei Yashin.
Simon Gagne's seventh goal on the power play made it a 4-1 blowout at 16:51, before Justin Williams added his sixth goal.
Garth Snow replaced DiPietro in the third period, but it was Hackett who had some early saves under pressure to deny the Islanders any comeback momentum.
"I did what I had to do," Hackett said. "It's a pleasure to play behind them."
Loose pucks. Defenseman Marcus Ragnarsson missed the game as his wife, Eva, was expecting the couple's second child... . Hitchcock double-shifted Eric Weinrich with both Kim Johnsson and Jim Vandermeer... . The last time the Flyers had a perfect month without a defeat and played at least five games was December 1996 (11-0-2)... If the playoffs began last night, the Flyers would meet Buffalo, the Rangers would be in and the Senators would be out.
Philadelphia Inq-Late coverage:
Philadelphia Daily News Coverage:
Flyers: Even Island hopping canât slow down Flyers
By ROB PARENT
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Itâs special now, if only because the Devils cooled off for a night and those devilish Ottawa Senators lie in wait Monday night. Whatâs so special about the Flyers right now, however, is that they arenât focused on their nearest, dearest rivals from across the river or on the team that took them out in the last two playoff seasons. Theyâre simply doing what professional athletes always preach both publicly and privately -- the Flyers are not only taking it one day at a time, theyâre back to beating teams day in and night out.
The latest stomp on this Philadelphia mega-march through the NHL was suffered by the struggling New York Islanders, who had the guts to take an early lead, only to be buried by a five-goal Flyers outburst in the second period en route to a 5-1 loss at Nassau Coliseum Saturday night.
As living testimony to the balanced, four-line system this team is thriving in, five different Flyers scored those second-period goals. That was way more than enough for Jeff Hackett (5-0-1 in his last six starts) to cruise to a victory that pushed the East-leading Flyers (14-2-5-1, 34 points) out to a five-point cushion over the pursuing Bruins and Devils.
It also extended the Flyersâ unbeaten streak to 12 games (10-0-2), completing a month of November without a loss.
The last time this team accomplished an unbeaten month was Dec. 1996 ... they wound up in the Stanley Cup finals that season. Of course, this is a very different team from that one.
"Weâre confident, no question about it," said Jeremy Roenick. "We donât get all nervous when a goal is scored on us."
Asked about going unbeaten in the hot month of November, Roenick said, "Thatâs the first time Iâve ever done that in my career. Itâs pretty special. Itâs nice."
Perhaps having the nicest night of all was John LeClair, who scored just his second goal of this hot month and assisted on another.
Mark Recchi, Donald Brashear, Simon Gagne and Justin Williams also scored for the Flyers, all after ex-Flyer Janne Niinimaa had given the Islanders a lead.
"They came at us hard like we thought they would," said Recchi. "But we made it 3-1 and when your team is struggling in games and struggling to score goals, itâs difficult to come back."
The Flyers helped the Islanders do just that early on by getting into trouble. First, Recchi was called for holding a stick, and just a minute after that penalty expired, Brashear went off for hooking.
Just 11 seconds later, Niinimaa clocked a pass past Hackett for a 1-0 Isles lead.
For the power-challenged Isles, that was almost an epiphany. They entered the game with just nine power- play goals in 87 opportunities, a 10.3 percent success ratio, and good for 29th place in the 30-team league.
The Flyers may be winning these days, but one Islanders goal should have really worried them. For it was the sixth game in a row the vaunted Flyers penalty-killing units have allowed a power-play goal by the opposition. For the third straight game, Ken Hitchcock found himself talking about fears of a trend developing -- one power-play goal allowed per game is a pending disaster.
Itâs not such a pressing concern so long as the Flyers are playing the likes of an Islanders team that over its last five games is 0-5 and was outscored 18-4. Even with the lead, however, the Islanders looked chaotic on the ice, and when gifted with a four-minute power play when Brashear got a little antsy on the ice, the Isles barely even threatened.
So then LeClair, splitting some shifts between the second and fourth line, was with the grinders when he skated down the right side, pulled up at the top of the circle and drilled a slapshot past goalie Rick DiPietroâs glove at 3:47 of the second for 1-1.
Said LeClair: "I didnât try to kill it."
Nonetheless, the rout was on.
In short second-period order, Roenick collected his own rebound and rolled it around to Recchi, who jammed home the puck for a power play goal at 5:37. Then the unlikeliest combination of Chris Therien-to-Brashear resulted in a Brashear wrist shot to elude DiPietro at 14:08.
The Coliseum chaos continued Gagne converted on the power play off a bad rebound of a Kim Johnsson shot. Then for a fitting period finale, an announcement was made that only one minute remained in the period. The Nassau nasties responded with an appropriate derisive and sustained cheer.
Before that died down, Williams had scored a fifth Flyers goal at 19:09.
"To me, winning is a feeling," said Hitchcock. "Thereâs a feeling in the locker room that when they come to the rink theyâre going to win. Thatâs a great feeling."
NOTES: LeClairâs assist was his 600th point as a Flyer ... Marcus Ragnarsson didnât play because his fianceâ Eva, went into labor. Jim Vandermeer took Ragnarssonâs place in the lineup ... Brashear was challenged by Eric Cairns -- last seen breaking Todd Fedorukâs face with a punch -- but Brashear didnât fight. Hitchcock admitted later he told his enforcer not to engage. "Why?" said Hitchcock. "Itâs 5-1. The wind was out of their sails. Why give them something to fall back on?"
Flyers score five; streak still alive
Sunday, November 30, 2003
By CHUCK GORMLEY
Throughout most of the Flyers' unbeaten streak, coach Ken Hitchcock has gone with the "if-it-ain't-broke, don't-fix-it" approach.
He strayed slightly from that path last week when he replaced John LeClair with Donald Brashear on a "second" line with Michal Handzus and Justin Williams, effectively dropping LeClair to a "fourth" line with Claude Lapointe and Radovan Somik.
As has been the case with most of Hitchcock's tinkering this season, the moves have been greeted with success.
LeClair picked up a goal and an assist and Brashear notched his second goal of the season as the Flyers used a five-goal second period to beat the chaotic New York Islanders 5-1 Saturday night in front of 13,029 angry fans at Nassau Coliseum.
The win extended the Flyers' unbeaten streak to 10-0-2 and pushed them five points ahead of the Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference standings.
It also gave them a near-perfect 10-0-2 mark in the month of November, their first unbeaten month since going 11-0-2 in December 1996, the last season they went to the Stanley Cup finals.
In losing their fifth straight game and their eighth in 10 games, the Islanders looked like a team in complete disarray. They have been outscored 11-1 in their last two losses and were subjected to chants of "Refund!. . . . Refund! "
LeClair, looking for his first goal in six games, found his long lost slap shot when he erased a 1-0 deficit with a howitzer from the right sideboards.
"That was a rocket," said Flyers goaltender Jeff Hackett, who made 16 saves to improve to 7-2-3.
Asked if it felt good to finally score a goal on a slapper, LeClair said, "Yeah, it does. I've had a lot of chances that haven't gone in. I didn't try to kill it, I just shot it."
The goal was just the fourth of the season for LeClair, but his overall play has improved dramatically over last year, when he missed 47 games with a dislocated right shoulder and finished the season with 18 goals.
"He was hurt the whole year. I room with him, I know," Flyers defenseman Chris Therien said. "He's a tough guy, too. He really is. I saw him take his finger once and snap it right into place and never say a word to anybody. I know what he's gone through."
With his two points, LeClair now has 600 points as a Flyer, one behind Rod Brind'Amour for seventh on the club's all-time list.
Hitchcock said he moved LeClair onto a line with Somik and Lapointe not to send a message, but as a way of encouraging him to play more physically. In two games on that line, LeClair has been on the ice for five of the Flyers' last nine goals.
"It's not really a demotion," Hitchcock said. "It's complementing the way he plays. Somik and John are tremendous down-low players. I don't think we have a fourth line right now, to be honest with you."
In the second period against the Islanders, every Flyers line was a scoring line. In addition to LeClair, Mark Recchi, Brashear, Simon Gagne and Justin Williams also scored in the middle period as the Flyers chased Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro with five goals on just 10 shots.
With the game well out of reach, Islanders defenseman Eric Cairns tried to goad Brashear into a fight with a couple of cross-checks to the back. The two squared off and looked prepared for a heavyweight bout, but after Cairns backpedaled and dropped his stick and gloves, Brashear held onto his equipment and the two went off with unsportsmanlike conduct minors.
Hitchcock said he told Brashear not to fight Cairns.
"Why?" Hitchcock asked. "Why excite their building?
Brashear said it was out of his character to back down.
"My players told me not to go and I went with them," he said. "Usually, I would have (fought him). I just taunted him a little bit."
Loose pucks: D Marcus Ragnarsson remained in South Jersey for the impending birth of his second child. Ragnarsson and his fiance Eva have a son named Jacob. D Jim Vandermeer took Ragnarsson's place in the lineup and played alongside Kim Johnsson. Janne Niinimaa's power-play goal in the first period marked the sixth straight game in which the Flyers have allowed a goal while shorthanded. It also snapped a scoreless streak of 134 minutes, 40 seconds for the Isles. C Claude Lapointe played in his first game at the Coliseum since being traded to the Flyers on March 9. He played 535 games over seven seasons with the Isles.
Flyers' streak is nothing to brag about
Sunday, November 30, 2003
By CHUCK GORMLEY
To fully appreciate the 11-game unbeaten streak the Flyers carried into Saturday night's game against the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum, you must first understand it is not even among the top five in club history.
To fully appreciate the Flyers' 12-game home unbeaten streak to start the season, you must also understand they are less than halfway to the NHL record of 25 set by the 1943-44 Montreal Canadiens.
Perhaps that is why the Flyers are not beating their chests over the nice little streaks they put together.
"Quite frankly, I don't even think about it," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. "You're on to the next day. You enjoy it for 15 minutes and move on. If there's anything coaches and teams are guilty of is that you don't enjoy the good times when you've got them."
To illustrate his point that coaches are tunnel visionaries, Hitchcock noted the level of excitement in Eagles coach Andy Reid's post-game press conferences.
"(They) are so exciting," Hitchcock deadpanned. "You can tell how much he enjoys those wins. We're all the same."
Coaches may be the same, but streaks seem to take on a life of their own.
The Flyers' last extended home unbeaten streak - a 15-game run during the 1999-2000 season - began at the same time former coach Roger Neilson was diagnosed with cancer, a disease that eventually took his life. Those Flyers did everything they could to deflect attention away from their coach and onto their own success.
That streak ranks fifth on the Flyers' all-time list. Of course, the granddaddy of all streaks is the 35-game run that lasted from Oct. 14, 1979 until Jan. 6, 1980. It still ranks as the longest unbeaten streak in professional sports history.
"It was a group effort," said Al Hill, a center on that team and now a scout with the Flyers. "We never counted on one guy."
Even though Reggie Leach led the Flyers that season with 50 goals, Hill was one of nine Flyers to score 15 or more goals that season. That team also had eight players with 100 or more penalty minutes, led by Paul Holmgren's 267.
"We were a real tough team," Hill said. "Nobody screwed around with us. But we had some luck, too."
Like in Game 22 of the streak when the Flyers trailed the Boston Bruins 2-0 with less than a minute remaining in the third period.
"I thought it was over," said former Flyers defenseman Joe Watson, who was an assistant to coach Pat Quinn on that team. "We pulled the goalie twice and we scored both times. It was unbelievable."
Ironically, that 35-game streak began and ended with blowout losses. The Flyers lost the second game of the season 9-2 to the Atlanta Flames.
"Pat Quinn played for Atlanta and we got smoked," Hill recalled. "He was not a happy man after that game."
The Flyers did not lose again until Jan. 7 in Minnesota when the North Stars trounced them 7-1.
Since that night, no NHL team has come even close to challenging the Flyers' 35-game unbeaten streak. The institution of sudden-death overtime in 1999-2000 all but assured the streak's place in NHL history.
But Watson and Hill agreed there is another reason the streak will not be challenged: parity. In that 1979-80 season, the NHL added four expansion teams - the Edmonton Oilers, Hartford Whalers, Quebec Nordiques and Winnipeg Jets - that went a combined 100-166-54.
"When we played expansion teams they'd get blown out for the first three or four years," Watson recalled. "Now, an expansion team comes in and in two years they're parallel with the other teams."
Flyers captain Keith Primeau agreed.
"It's fun to allow people to draw those comparisons (to 1979-80), but that's a pretty amazing feat for any year, any league, any time," he said.
Will it ever be matched? By any team? In any league? In any era?
"I guess it's possible," Primeau said, "but not very probable."
"That'll never be matched in pro sports," Watson countered. "Never." Laux returns to Titans
Defenseman James Laux's stay in the American Hockey League was brief. The 23-year-old Cherry Hill native played three games over nine days for the Phantoms before returning to the Trenton Titans of the East Coast League on Friday.
In three games with the Phantoms, Laux recorded no points, no penalty minutes, two shots and was a plus-1.
The return of defenseman Freddy Meyer from a concussion, along with Jim Vandermeer's reassignment from the Flyers, prompted Laux's return to the Titans. Quotables
"We have to find a way to close the game. Maybe we can use Mariano Rivera."
- Center Bobby Holik on the Rangers' inability to hold a lead.
"Very seldom, but every once in a while he does come up with a smile. If you start talking about Harley Davidson motorcycles or trucks and stuff like that, he may crack a smile."
- Devils captain Scott Stevens, describing coach Pat Burns.
"The Esposito brothers probably have been fighting for the last 23 years. We'll probably be fighting for the next 23 years."
- Sabres goalie Martin Biron after his brother, Mathieu, scored against him. The last time a player scored against his brother was when Phil Esposito beat Tony, 23 years ago.