Saturday, January 21, 2006

Esche is Back in a Big Way

On Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh, the Flyers defeated the Penguins by a score of 2-1. Their success on this warm January day can be summed up in only two words.

Robert Esche.

In his first game in a month due to a groin muscle problem, Esche faced 33 shots and stopped 32 of them. He was quick with the arms and legs and he was stingy with the rebounds. In short, he looked amazing on a day the Flyers needed their netminder to be as such. The lowly Penguins were fiesty and their goalie Marc-Andre Fleurry was almost as strong as Esche.

Flyers fans should be encouraged by Esche's performance. While the offense struggled to light the lamp today, they were still able to secure two points in what has quickly become a crowded leaderboard in the Eastern Conference. Even with the victory, the Flyers trail the Ottawa Senators and Carolina Hurricanes in the standings. The difference between the top seed and the third seed in the playoffs could be only a couple of points in the standings, but could be huge in terms of opponents. The top seed will likely get a team who squeaks into the playoffs such as Toronto, Tampa Bay, or Montreal- each of whom are struggling in many aspects of the game. If the playoffs started today, the third seed in the East would get the New Jersey Devils, who have currently won 9 in a row and have a history of playoff success.

The Flyers have been playing good hockey since Christmas. They have done so without the help of Robert Esche. If he can continue to play the way that he did today, the Flyers should be in good shape come April.

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