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Thornton puts on a passing clinic
Why shoot when you can pass like that
11/22/09 - By David Towers -

Perhaps seeing Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley on either side of Joe Thornton last Friday night, caused Philadelphia Flyers Coach John Stevens to direct his team to not bother with the usual double teaming or even one-on-one strategies with Joe Thornton. Rather he maybe had them focus all their attention on trying to eliminate passing lanes and explore ways to break the play up on the receiving side of things, near Dany Heatley or Patrick Marleau's sticks.

Whatever Coach Stevens' actual game plan was, it was not effective against the Thornton, Heatley, Marleau line which teamed up for an amazing 8 points on the night to beat the Flyers 6-3 in the two teams second meeting this year. Earlier this season, the Sharks beat the Flyers in Philadelphia.

Joe Thornton's unmatched and rare ability to enact an inordinate amount of calm patience in the fast paced game was on supreme display this evening. Two times, the tempo of the game was at full speed ahead and two times, Joe's application of a slow & steady approach befuddled the entire Flyers defense and their goal tender Ray Emery, resulting in two picture perfect and mesmerizing goals.

Thornton's Impressive Passes # 1 & # 2, shown through Dany Heatley's Hat Trick


None of the opposition could properly adjust to Joe when he flicked the switch and applied his slower speed setting. As if the fast pace of the game was put on 'pause' while Joe patiently waited for the perfect pass to show itself. The opposition is forced to flounder for a second as they try to adjust themselves & that is exactly what Joe takes advantage of, that split second of confusion requiring adjustment.

Then, when ready, like a tense cross-bow held back and released, he unloads a perfect pass and has the puck travel under several sticks and through several legs and finally onto the stick of Danny Heatley for an easy re-direct into the net.

Thornton would end the game with 4 assists (the 9th such game of his career), Heatley would tally 3 goals (the 9th hat trick of his career) and Marleau added a blistering one-timer for a goal in net. One can argue two things regarding this game, either the Flyers defense is very porous (unlikely) or that this line is unstoppable with its myriad of options. I vote for the latter.

Steve Yzerman & Kevin Lowe, both in the building & doing some scouting for Team Canada saw some compelling evidence to keep these 3 men together on one of Canada's lines at the upcoming Winter Olympic games in Vancouver. Something we discussed in earlier article this year. [Heatley Deal A Steal?]

The Flyers 3 goals were scored by Giroux (2) and Briere (1). The Flyers could have tallied a few more but Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabakov, came up big on two key plays and kept the Sharks lead in tact.

The ice seemed to play a big factor last night, since the game was riddled with falling players, pucks over sticks and players whiffing away at the air on several occasions.


Contact David at davempa@gmail.com


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