FLYERS BOND, CANUCKS STRUGGLE
Brad Ziemer from the Vancouver Sun digs into the Flyers' pre-game preparations. Did they spend more time getting ready for the match-up than the Canucks? Well just look at the final score.
"The Philadelphia Flyers spent a couple of days in Whistler earlier this week where, as part of a team-bonding exercise, the players constructed a Lego model of what they figured their team should look like.
The structure apparently included a fence around the perimeter, which appeared to work wonders Wednesday night. The Vancouver Canucks didn't even bother to try and scale it. [The] eight goals are the most allowed by the Canucks with Alain Vigneault behind the bench. And while three games do not a season make, there have been enough disturbing signs to warrant more than a little concern.
We knew goals would be a problem - and the Canucks have managed just one even-strength goal in their first three games - but what is most alarming is the team's defensive coverage. The Canucks looked like Keystone Cops in their own end much of the night and most of the Flyer goals followed glaring defensive coverage breakdowns.
ICE CHIPS: Shannon was a team-worst minus-four on the night ... Philadelphia is now undefeated in its last 13 games in Vancouver. The Flyers last loss here on Jan. 17, 1989."
NO ONE TO LEAN ON
Jason Botchford from The Province reports on the lack of team cohesion in the Cancuks' game against the Flyers:
'Wearing a knee brace because of a strained MCL, Roberto Luongo needed the players in front of him to do what he has so often done for them. He needed to lean on them. He needed to count on them to make his job just a little easier. But about the only things Luongo, and then Curtis Sanford, could count on were odd-man rushes, defensive breakdowns and more mistakes than a blind waiter.
The Canucks' mishaps started early and occurred often enough to give NBC, a network desperate for ratings, a possible idea for a new sitcom called Vancouver 911: Fire Drill. The biggest joke was saved for last when the Canucks gave up their eighth goal -- scored by Mike Richards -- while they were on a two-man advantage in the third period.
"It's hard to describe," Willie Mitchell said. "To be honest, I don't think I've ever been involved in something like that. I was on an expansion team in Minnesota and we were a little unmatched but I don't remember a game like we had (against Philadelphia on Wednesday).
RITCHIE'S SWEET AND A LITTLE SOUR HOMECOMING
Elliot Pap from the Vancouver Sun talks about Byron Ritchie's disappointing send-off to the press box due to poor performance:
'Byron Ritchie's sweet homecoming turned a little sour Wednesday when the North Delta native was scratched from the Vancouver Canucks lineup for poor play. Ritchie and fellow free-agent signee Brad Isbister were dispatched to the press box by head coach Alain Vigneault and watched their mates take on the Philadelphia Flyers at GM Place. For Ritchie, the benching was "a huge disappointment" although he conceded he had no one to blame but the guy staring back in the mirror.
"It's a big wakeup call," Ritchie said following the morning skate. "I know I haven't been nearly good enough. I haven't played with the grit and emotion I need. I wish I could put my finger on it. If I could, I probably wouldn't be here. It's been more frustrating for me than anybody."
Ritchie, 30, always seemed to be a thorn in the side of the Canucks when he played for Calgary yet he has been unable to replicate that in his brief time with Vancouver. He had a groin strain in training camp and missed a week but refused to use that as a convenient excuse.
Vigneault was blunt in his assessment of Ritchie's performance to date. "The Byron Ritchie I know is a better player than what he's shown so far and I think he'd be the first to tell you that," Vigneault said. "For some reason, he hasn't put his game together as far as offensively, defensively and the emotion we're all used to seeing him bring to the ice."'
BOULERICE LIKELY TO SEE SUSPENSION FROM HIT ON KESLER
Philadelphia Flyers tough guy Jesse Boulerice expects to receive a lengthy suspension after taking a match penalty for cross-checking Vancouver Canucks centre Ryan Kesler in the head Wednesday night. "I reacted in a bad way - the wrong way," said Boulerice. Boulerice faces an automatic review from league disciplinarian Colin Campbell.
The play came in the third period of Philadelphia's 8-2 whipping of the Canucks at GM Place. Boulerice went after Kesler after the Canuck tried crunch Flyers defenceman Randy Jones behind the net but connected partially. "I wanted to give him a hit back," said Boulerice, a 29-year-old native of Plattsburgh, N.Y. who signed with the Flyers after completing a tryout in the exhibition season.
Boulerice, who played for the Albany River Rats of the AHL last season, continued his penchant for penalties after leading the Flyers with 47 minutes in penalties in the pre-season. He cross-checked Kesler as he was coming around the Flyer net at 11:39 of the third period. Philadelphia was up 7-2 at the time. Kesler lay prone on the ice for a few minutes and did not return to the ice after he was helped to the Vancouver bench. "I'm just lucky that my jaw's not broken," said Kesler, who is expected to get X-rays done Thursday. "Hopefully, it's not fractured and we'll go from there."
"It's unacceptable, it's something that we can't have," Flyers coach John Stevens said of the hit "We didn't need to get involved in anything really, we had the hockey game in hand and that was the message on the bench, so that kind of stuff can't happen."