"You can't take anything for granted."
No, last night's Flyers win was not just another November win for a team that needs them most in March and April. It was about convincingly pouncing on a hungry division rival, taking their best punch in the first period and responding with a bigger blow.
And we're not just talking about Shelley's loss to Boogaard.
"That wasn't how I planned it," Shelley said of his losing battle.
After a scoreless first period, a rebound from Michael Del Zotto's power-play shot bounced right to Brandon Dubinsky, who didn't miss the wide-open net. Dubinsky gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead less than 2 minutes into the second period, after New York notched just two shots on goal in the entire first period.
That didn't rattle the Flyers.
They simply responded with a variety of goals: one on the power play, one from a devoted penalty killer, one from a Russian who is still figuring out Philadelphia and the Flyers, and one from a defenseman.
"I thought it was a really strong game by us," coach Peter Laviolette said. "There were a lot of battles. You had to compete hard on the puck, and I thought our guys did this from start to finish. It was good to bounce back right when they scored and get back on the board."
Less than 4 minutes after the Rangers took the lead, Claude Giroux spun around and found Richards across the crease with a blind backhand pass. Giroux and Richards both bumped their point streaks to five games with that power-play goal.
Blair Betts, the unheralded penalty killing expert, knocked in a rebound another 4 minutes after that to give the Flyers the lead. Through 13 games, Betts has as many goals (3) as the Devils' $100 million man Ilya Kovalchuk and only two less points.
Nikolay Zherdev responded 6 minutes after that with his third goal of the season - and his first against his former team, the Rangers.
Overshadowed by the Flyers' three-goal second period, they held the Rangers to just 11 shots through 45 minutes of play.
"Really, they got what we gave them," Chris Pronger said. "They're a pretty defense-oriented team, they didn't really generate a whole lot other than the stuff we gave them, some stuff on the power play."
Pronger chipped in with a power-play goal, the Flyers' second of the game, on a point shot early in the third period. The Flyers' power play is now 9-for-28 (32 percent) during the current five-game winning streak after starting the season 3-for-25 (8 percent).
"We're getting more traffic," Pronger explained. "We're moving the puck around quicker. We've done a lot better job of moving the puck around quickly. When we get it up top, seeing the openings and getting to the net, rewarding those guys that are battling in front to screen the goalie and allow them to get after loose pucks."
Interestingly, Pronger said the Flyers have done "a lot of good things," but says that they haven't played their best "by any stretch."
Still, the Flyers have a four-point separation over the Rangers in what is an uncharacteristically weak Atlantic Division. Before last night's last game in Los Angeles, the Flyers held a one-point edge for top spot in the Eastern Conference.
Wins like this, even if they are in November, can be something to build off.
But to put it all in perspective, the Flyers had a five-game winning streak from Oct. 31-Nov. 12 last year. John Stevens was fired on Dec. 4. They were 8-4-1 at this exact juncture 1 year ago.
"These games are always physical battles," Shelley said. "We're on a bit of a roll right now. But we would like to distance ourselves."
Dan Carcillo could face supplementary discipline from the NHL today for his second-period hit that made contact with a falling Ruslan Fedotenko's head. Carcillo did not receive a penalty on the play . . . Former Flyer Bill Clement was sworn in as a U.S. citizen during the first intermission . . . Kimmo Timonen and Ville Leino pushed their scoring streaks to four games . . . Sergei Bobrovsky, who had 20 saves last night, is now in the NHL's Top 10 with a 2.23 goals against-average.