After suffering through two drama-filled seasons of sub-par play from Ilya Bryzgalov, the Philadelphia Flyers spent yet another off-season trying to shore up their goaltending situation. The Flyers were rumored to have attempted to acquire former Los Angeles Kings’ back-up Jonathan Bernier, but ended up with free agent Ray Emery. On Wednesday night Bernier got his first start in Philadelphia as a member of the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Flyers got a first-hand look at "the one that got away."
Bernier turned away 31 of 32 shots as the Leafs beat the Flyers in their home opener 3-1. Having played on Tuesday night against arch-rival Montreal, the Leafs appeared fatigued in the first period as the Flyers jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal by Brayden Schenn. Bernier kept the Leafs from getting steam-rolled by stopping the other 14 shots that Philly fired on net in the first 20 minutes.
Going only one for seven on the man advantage, the orange and black dominated play through most of the game but could not cash in their chances. A rebound goal by Phil Kessel tied the game at one in the second period and two unanswered tallies by Dave Bolland in the third period gave Toronto the victory.
Despite the loss, the Flyers showed great improvement over their miserable preseason. Offensively, all of their lines seemed to click, and they created plenty of scoring chances. Their power play moved the puck well in the Toronto zone, with their only difficulty coming from crossing the offensive blue line.
Off-season acquisitions Vinny Lecavalier and Mark Streit both played very well. Lecavalier was all over the ice, and Streit moved the puck well from end to end. Both first year Flyers collected assists on their team’s only goal of the evening.
Defensively, there were no glaring breakdowns or turnovers, with all six defensemen having solid nights. They were backed up by a very confident performance by opening night starter Steve Mason in the Flyers net. Making some acrobatic stops throughout the contest, Mason was truly not at fault for any of the three Maple Leaf goals.
Certainly preferring to start the season with two points, the Flyers can take a lot of positives from their opener. Headed into a weekend with back to back games, efforts matching Wednesday night’s contest should get Philadelphia some victories.
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