It may be too far too early to call the Flyers cured after a gritty 3-1 win against the Bruins, but the patient is certainly showing signs of improvement after just its second win in six games under new coach peter Laviolette.
Certainly, all the vital signs in the Flyers' game were strong.
Since taking over the job from John Stevens, Laviolette has stressed that his team must go to the net and create offense through crease-crashing. Rookie James van Riemsdyk scored the tying goal early in the third period by stationing himself six inches outside of the crease of Tim Thomas and outmuscling the Boston defense to steer the centering pass of Arron Asham past a helpless Thomas.
"I just went to the net there and let Ash know I was going to the net and he just put it right on my tape and it was a bang-bang play," said van Riemsdyk, who scored for the first time in 13 games." He got the puck out to me quick, so I had time to do what I wanted with it.
"Obviously, (Laviolette's) been stressing just being hard on pucks, going to the net hard and being a presence in front by using my size to my advantage, so I've just been keeping that in the back of my mind and go to the net whenever I can and be hard in front of the net and just create some havoc in front."
The Flyers also went to the net hard for Kimmo Timonen's winning goal, flooding the slot with players as the defenseman ripped a rising slapper that somehow changed directions before fluttering past a befuddled Thomas, who looked to the rafters helplessly as the Flyers celebrated an unlikely lead.
"We have to play a solid game," Flyer goalie Brian Boucher told NHL.com. "For whatever reason, goals are not coming our way as easily as we would like and we're in a funk. That makes it difficult, obviously. You work through these things and keep throwing pucks at the net and a lot of traffic and eventually we're going to get some chances and those chances will go in."
Boucher, the No. 1 goalie now that Ray Emery is on the shelf for six weeks after undergoing lower-abdominal surgery last week, has liked what he has seen from his team since an awful first period against New Jersey on Saturday night, a period that set the tone for a 4-1 loss.
"We're trying to build off anything at this point, be it a good period or whatever," Boucher said. "I think our last game in New Jersey, we had a bad first period and we weren't ready to play and they were up 3-0 and that was the game.
"Over the last two periods of that game, we played better and tonight we played a solid effort. So, that's five periods where we should be pretty happy with our hockey and that should be something we can build off of."
Boucher was solid, stopping 26 shots. His defense was stingy, making Boston's first line look ineffective most of the night. The offense generated 38 shots and every player on the roster -- except for defenseman Oskars Bartulis, rugged forward Riley Cote and defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen, who was injured in the first period -- had at least one shot on goal. The penalty-kill, meanwhile, killed all four mad-advantage opportunities it faced.
"I felt we locked it up defensively pretty well and offensively, we created some things out there," van Riemsdyk said. "We just wanted to get the puck to the net and create some gritty, greasy goals out there."
But, are those developments enough to issue a prognosis that this team is ready to be taken off the critical list?
Both the coach and the GM are taking a wait-and-see attitude -- especially with Pittsburgh on the docket in less than 24 hours.
"It's a good win for us and then we have to get ready for the game tomorrow -- against the Stanley Cup champions. It's a big win for us though," Paul Holmgren, the GM, said.
Laviolette, meanwhile, says he'll be happier if sees another representative effort Tuesday night.
"You have to put some (games) together, there's no question; but we'll see," Laviolette said. "I like the way we played, but we have a tough game tomorrow night. They're rested and at home waiting for us, but I certainly liked the way we played tonight."