The Philadelphia Flyers claimed a tidy 4-1 win Thursday night over the rival New York Rangers in a game that wasn't too exciting to watch but was impressive in the fashion that the home team took care of business. That and other thoughts from around the NHL on Thursday night:
There is a lot of talk about rookie goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, but, the fact is, I could have played net for the Flyers on Thursday night. The Rangers produced a season-low 21 shots on goal and only 11 shots through 40 minutes when the game was still in question. Also, there weren't many second-rebound chances on Bobrovsky. The real story again in Philly this season -- just like it was last spring en route to the Stanley Cup final -- is having the best blue-line corps in the Eastern Conference makes life a lot easier on the guy in net.
Leading the way on defense, of course, is Chris Pronger, and I felt he began to look like the Pronger of old against the Rangers. His comeback from offseason knee surgery perhaps is fully complete. This is no small development. The veteran blueliner can take over a game single-handedly. He scored his third goal of the season Thursday on a blast from the point and was masterful in his own end directing traffic.
OK, let's give Bobrovsky some love before Flyers fans invade my Twitter account and demand an apology. He wasn't tested much, but, when he was, I thought his rebound control was terrific and overall he looked really comfortable. A pretty impressive adjustment from the KHL just one month into his NHL career. So if you're head coach Peter Laviolette, what do you do when Michael Leighton returns? Can a goalie lose his job just because of injury? Oh wait, that happened to Pascal Leclaire in Ottawa.
Before family and friends only in a sparse Atlanta crowd, the Blue Jackets continued their surprising start with a 3-0 win to move to 8-4-0. I wrote about them earlier Thursday (Jackets' numbers give reason to pause). But the story again Thursday night was Mathieu Garon, posting his second straight shutout. He's 4-0-0 on the season with a 0.89 goals-against average and .966 save percentage. That's Tim Thomas territory! Jackets GM Scott Howson said Wednesday that there is no goalie controversy in Columbus. Perhaps, but how does head coach Scott Arniel not stick with Garon for now?
After an inspired start to the season gave long-suffering Islanders fans hope that things were finally turning for the better, the Long Island club is back to its all-too-familiar sad-sack ways. A 4-1 loss in Ottawa on Thursday night made it six losses in a row -- all in regulation. And this time, even favorite whipping boy Rick DiPietro couldn't take the blame as Dwayne Roloson took the loss. The thing about losing is that it's way harder on the confidence of younger players and there are plenty on the Islanders' roster.