Well, not having their top two players really hurt the Senators last night. The Flyers just flat out beat them, convincingly, 6-1. The only way the Senators could score last night was when three players on the Flyers fell down on the play. Chalk up another win for Niittymaki, another goal for Scott Hartnell, and another point for Steve Downie. And oh yeah, chalk up a win for Riley Cote. He really beat down Brian McGrattan.
Speaking of that fight, I really think that was the tone setter for the game. McGrattan wanted to send his message to the Flyers, and he found a willing combatant in Cote. I think Cote really surprised him. These two players have had conversations in warmups in each of the past two games against each other, so this has been boiling for awhile. Cote gave up 4 inches to McGrattan, but he stood really tall and took down one of the better fighters in the league. Cote played a great game, maybe the best game I've ever seen him play. He first of all set the tone for the Flyers after the fight, and during the course of the game finished his checks. John Stevens even rewarded him with some powerplay time at the end of the game, and he made a great deflection pass to Scottie Upshall for a goal.
The power play, yes, that has been good. They are now at a 25% clip, putting them in first place in that category. Both the first unit and the second unit have been great. And maybe the second unit has actually been better.
This game was supposed to be all about Steve Downie. Well, he did record an assist and made a great move for a nice scoring chance that also drew a penalty. That's 8 points in the 8 games since his call up. He's been producing on that red hot line with Hartnell and Richards.
The Flyers are a scary team. They've got three lines that can put the puck in the net, an absolutely killer powerplay, shorthanded scoring threats, and just an overall physical team. The Flyers play the Devils on Tuesday night. This is a huge game to say the least. The Flyers have as many points as the Devils and Penguins, but have a game in hand. But if they lose to the Devils, it could be a huge mental loss. They've struggled against the Devils this season, no question about that. If they win Tuesday, they should have no problem beating the Crosby-less Penguins Thursday night. This is a huge week for the Flyers in the division. If they win each of their next two games, they can start putting some distance between themselves and the second place teams.