TORONTO – The Philadelphia Flyers’ recent high-flying offence came to a grinding halt in Toronto.
The Flyers entered Thursday night’s tilt with the Maple Leafs having scored 23 goals over their last four games, all wins. The table seemed set for that trend to continue, given the Leafs came into the contest having allowed an average of 3.38 goals per game, the highest mark in the league.
But logic went out the window as the Leafs stonewalled the Philly attack behind the strong goaltending of Vesa Toskala during a 4-0 victory.
The Flyers, a pre-season pick by many to be Stanley Cup contenders, have only recently started racking up points consistently. They rode into Toronto with an 8-1-1 record in their last 10 games, pulling themselves back into a playoff spot.
But on Thursday, the Flyers turned in a performance more reminiscent of the first couple months of the season, when the club just couldn’t get it together.
“Pretty much everything we have been doing right, we didn’t do tonight,” said defenceman Chris Pronger. “That’s where that lopsided outcome comes into play.”
What the Flyers have been doing is getting scoring from a wide cast of characters. Captain Mike Richards had three goals and five points in his last five contests, Simon Gagne had 10 points in his last seven games and Danny Briere had six points in his last four outings, just to list a few of the contributors.
According to Pronger, the offence originates from the Flyers taking a more enthusiastic, fast-paced approach.
“We’ve been moving the puck well, moving the puck quickly,” he said. “Just on our toes, jumping and hitting holes and playing with energy and excitement.
“For whatever reason, it just wasn’t there tonight.”
Goalie Michael Leighton, who took his first loss in regulation with the Flyers since being claimed on waivers in December, has been a big reason for the Flyers’ resurgence and holds an 8-1-1 mark in Black and Orange after the loss to Toronto.
From his perspective, the Leafs did a good job of hurrying the hot Philly attack.
“They didn’t give us many opportunities,” Leighton said. “We couldn’t get the offence going we have in recent games because their defence was stepping up on us and putting a lot of pressure on us.
“We know we can play better than that and I’m sure I can play better than that, too.”