January 23 Philadelphia Inquirer:
“The circumstances gathered like demons, and they seemed to be plotting against the Flyers.
First there was the knock-down, drag-out win over Ottawa on Thursday, one that left several Flyers with sore knuckles from all the jabs and roundhouse rights the two teams planted on each other’s faces.
Then there was the distraction of Sunday’s nationally televised matinee in Chicago, the season’s first reunion of the two teams that played in last year’s Stanley Cup Finals.
Finally, there was the law of averages. The Flyers had won four games in a row, eight of their previous nine, and had just four regulation losses in their previous 21 games.
Most likely, though, defenseman Kimmo Timonen summed it up best when he diagnosed the Flyers‘ 3-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.
“We were sleeping the first half of the game,” he said. “We weren’t ready to play. It happens to every team.”
Despite the defeat, the Flyers remained first overall in the Eastern Conference. New Jersey won its third in a row for the first time this season.
While the Flyers yawned through the first period, the Devils, who have recently awakened but still have the worst record in the NHL, controlled play and grabbed a 2-0 lead on goals by defenseman Henrick Tallinder and center Patrik Elias, who later sealed the Flyers‘ fate on an empty-net goal with 42 seconds remaining in the third period.
To a man, the Flyers denied they were storing their energy for the Blackhawks.
“I don’t think so,” said goalie Brian Boucher, who fought off several prime scoring chances by the Devils in the first yet allowed a soft goal by Elias to slip through his pads. “I didn’t get that sense. We would have liked a better start. It ended up costing us, but I don’t think it was because guys were looking ahead. I hadn’t heard anybody talk about it, so I don’t think that was the reason.”
Whatever the reason, it was apparent to Flyers coach Peter Laviolette which team had more zip in the skates in the first period.”
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