Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Game #47 Preview: Flyers @ Panthers 1/27/09


Flyers play their first game in a week (and only second in eleven days) tonight against the Florida Panthers. Do they still remember how to skate? Only time will tell...

Why the Flyers will win:
  • Antero Niitymaki will hopefully start, and he's a crazy 8-0 against the southeast division this season, including the win last week over Florida.
  • Jay Bouwmeester doesn't have the people skills it takes to win hockey games, as per Mirtle.

Why the Panthers will win:

  • With trade rumors swirling around practically every Flyer who doesn't have a letter on his sweater (except maybe Hartnell), it would be pretty understandable for the Flyers to be pretty distracted.

That's all I got for this one. It's been a while, there's really no telling what the hell will happen. I'll predict Panthers by two, just in case the Flyers are as unpumped for this game as I am.

Monday, January 26, 2009

My Kind of Skills Competition

The current skills competition is pretty stupid (40% of the vote for wearing a hat?). I much prefer the good ol' style of one-on-one, backyard dueling that was featured on the CBC series Showdown '78, starring Flyers great Rick MacLeish. The only thing at stake was pride. Well, that and a grand prize of TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS!!!

I tried putting these clips on YouTube but couldn't. They're pretty flippin' sweet, and are totally worth clicking on.

Rick MacLeish vs. Darryl Sittler

Rick MacLeish vs. Gilbert Perrault


Sorry for the prolonged absence--pieces keep breaking off my computer, which is not a good thing. I'm trying to fix it myself, by just fiddling around with a screwdriver in an electrical appliance cluelessly (always a good idea). It's still not really better, but I soldier on...

So what happened while I was on hiatus? The Flyers beat the Thrashers (shocker), Jeff Carter was the second fastest in the fastest skater thing, Jeff Carter got knocked out of the breakaway contest in the first round with the worst shot anybody took the whole night, Jeff Carter did nothing in the All-Star game (except manage to keep possession of the puck for like 4:59 of the five minute overtime), Jeff Carter scored no goals, Jeff Carter came home with a #7 jersey I'm kinda surprised he chose since it's retired by the Flyers. (Flyers Goal Scored By... does a much better job treating Carter's all-star flop with the snark it deserves)

The other main thing that kept Flyers beat writers from getting time off over the break was more plot twists in L'Affaire Briere, with the Flyers seemingly forcing Danny Briere to get surgery so he could stay out of the lineup longer. That's a new one, even for the Flyers medical staff. He's out another four weeks, guaranteed, conveniently right until the trade deadline.

I have to think this is all leading up to trading Briere, or at the very least dumping Glen Metropolit for him. God, Metropolit is utterly useless, and his name is desperately missing a syllable. He has all of one goal this year in forty-two games. To put that in perspective, that's only one more goal than Lauren Hart has tallied.

Lastly, there was some nonsense about Paul Holmgren looking into getting Peter Forsberg back for the late part of this season. Because it was just SO great when he was here before, and he's SO not injury prone, and he played SO great for Colorado last year. With the Canucks getting Sundin, I think that's enough NHL scouring of Stockholm-area assisted-living communities for one season.

Flyers get to go on their second Florida trip of January (seriously, nice scheduling there) for a game in Sunrise on Tuesday, and Friday in Tampa.

But despite what will sum up to five straight games against the Southeast, the Flyers have the toughest remaining schedule of any team in the league, according to some website. That's never a good thing. All four games against Boston remain, plus four against the Rangers and a game each against Detroit and Calgary. Not fun.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Game #45 Review: Flyers 3 (SO) @ Panthers 2 1/16/09

3 (SO)



Antero and Kimmo perform traditional Finnish victory dance.

Flyers halt their losing streak at two and get a shootout win over a very hot Panthers team, to go 1-1 on their first of two Florida swings this month. Wasn't pretty, but it's two points.

  • A win is a win. But jeez, what a crappy win. Florida dominated the second and third periods, took fewer penalties, got way more shots. The Flyers have sort of made this their way (stealing wins), but it can't possibly be the right plan for the long run. Improvements have to be made, and sooner rather than later, before this rut gets too deep.
  • God those penalties were awful. Three delay of game penalties? And one in the last minutes of the game from Lupul? That's just totally unacceptable.
  • Definitely Simon Gagne's best game in a long time. That shootout move was real pretty.
  • The shootout, never a strongsuit, has looked much better lately. And if and when Briere returns, it will be even more betterer.
  • Niittymaki looked much more solid than Biron did yesterday, and especially looked improved in the shootout. This pair of games will undoubtedly get people thinking about whether or not there should be any sort of goalie controversy. Nowhere near time for that, I say. Biron still tends to play huge in the real huge games, and that's what matters most.
  • Jeff Carter back in the league lead with 30 goals in 45 games. He's on pace for over fifty, which would be pretty awesome. Don't think I would've had him as one of the three most likely players to do that this season.
  • Devils, Rangers and Penguins all won last night, too. Boo.

Bottom line: Winning is good, but shitty wins aren't as good. Shape up, boys. And don't even dream about losing to Atlanta at home.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Game #44 Review: Flyers 1 @ Lightning 4 1/15/09



Worst game of the season? Quite possibly. And it's the second loss to Tampa of the season. Ew.

Don't feel like talking about it.

Oh, and we play Florida tonight. Don't feel like talking about that, either.

Winning will cure this. And bring back some verbosity.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Game #44 Preview: Flyers @ Lightning 1/15/09


Flyers play in Tampa tonight, hoping to wipe away the memories of their poor effort against the Penguins.

Why the Flyers Will Win:
  • They're playing the Lightning

How the Lightning Could Ever Win:

  • The Flyers might miss their plane or something.

Puck drops at 7. Morale rises at around 9:30.

Bullies in the Sunshine

Flyers play their next five games against the Southeast Division (hooray!), including four of them in Florida. It's a great time of year to be in Florida, that's for sure. And there's never a bad time to play against the Southeast.

That's all there is for this post. I mostly just wanted to show off my Microsoft Paint chops.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Game #43 Review: Penguins 4 @ Flyers 2 1/13/09


Sorry for the delay, but I'm sure you can understand why I was in no big rush to write about last night's show.

I'm not too worried about it, really. The Penguins came out and blindsided the Flyers by playing the trap. The Flyers did a poor job of making the adjustment until the third period, but other than that I saw no big issues. Other than generally crappy defense, but that was an anomaly.

The game meant a lot more to the Penguins, and it showed. But down the stretch, games meaning less certainly will not be an issue for the Flyers.

At least I hope not.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Briere To Join Phantoms For Two Games

More on all things Briere later, but for the time being, the big news today is that Daniel Briere is going to be testing out his broken whatever for a couple games with the Phantoms before coming back to the boys in the big building across the street. This is definitely a good idea, as trading away people to make room for a guy who may be out for the season during his first shift back would be a mess

But unless Briere reinjurs himself during these two games, this will prove to be only a very temporary solution. If Briere is to get back into the Flyers, a whole lotta shaking's gonna have to happen.

Briere and Stevens discuss the move below.

Game #43 Preview: Penguins @ Flyers 1/13/09


When it comes to Penguins-Flyers games, there's always a lot at stake. But for the Penguins, this game is even bigger. The Penguins are currently rocking out with their suck out, losing seven of their last eight and thirteen of their last eighteen (none of these were OT losses). And it wasn't just against good opponents, either. The Senators, Maple Leafs, Lightning, and Predators all got to feel good about themselves by beating the flightless birds.
Therrien's firing seems overdue, and therefore his job security may hinge on this one game. A win, and Therrien will surely be given many a public vote of confidence. A close loss, and he probably gets another stay of execution. A blowout loss, and the team bus will drop him off in North Philly and speed away.
As much as they need to delude themselves into thinking so before the game, there is nowhere near as much at stake for the boys in orange in this game.
With that in mind, let's break it down...
Why The Flyers Will Win:
  • The Penguins couldn't beat a drum at this point.
  • The Flyers always play up against the Penguins, who are clearly the team they like least. Playing up against a team that's playing so down pretty much guarantees victory.
  • The Flyers are currently ELEVEN points ahead of Pittsburgh in the standings.
  • Desperate teams play desperate hockey, so it's really unlikely that the Penguins will have the composure this rivalry mandates. Look for lots of penalties, especially to Malkin and Crosby. Wouldn't be surprised to see a real nasty cheapshot from somebody, too.
  • Flyers have won 14 straight at home. Penguins haven't won on the road since last year.

I could go on, really, but I have to stop myself.

Why The Penguins Will Win:

  • They have to stop sucking eventually, right?

7:00 start at the Wach. If you don't get the game on TV for whatever reason, you can pick up a free feed over at atdhe.net .

Prediction: Flyers score five in the win. Crystal ball is foggy as to whether or not Scott Hartnell scores one or two, but it's definitely not zero.

And just for fun, a reminder of the last time the Penguins waddled into Philadelphia.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Road To February is Paved With Crap

Crappy teams, that is. The Flyers have seven games remaining in January, against Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Florida, Atlanta, Florida, Tampa, and St. Louis. For those of you keeping track at home, zero of those teams would make the playoffs if they started today (though I realize Florida has been pretty good of late).

Some day-off interviews from Kimmo Timonen, Mike Richards, and Marty Biron, in preparation for the tenth-in-the-east(!) Pittsburgh Penguins. Watch them blow sunshine up the press's collective ass as they are forced to say nice things about Sidney Crosby.

In other news, the Devils lost last night, which is always good for the Flyers. They are getting Brendan Shanahan, though, which would be bad news if he wasn't turning FORTY this month.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Thirty-Three Years Ago Today...

On January 11, 1976, the Soviet Red Army Team played the final game of their tour of the NHL against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Broad Street Bullies. Oft described as the only occasion when anyone else in the NHL ever rooted for the Flyers, the game is considered by many Flyers greats (Shero, Clarke) to be the biggest game in Flyers history.

Rather than talk about it myself, I'll just provide a deluge of pics, videos and links (these may be a little repetitive, but they're all pretty awesome).

Soviet anti-Flyers Propaganda

Further Reading:

Flyers Conquer The Red Army (philadelphiaflyers.com)

Flyers versus Red Army (Wikipedia)

Politics Aside, Flyers and Soviets Resume Action Tonight (New York Times)

Bobby Clarke Interview During Intermission (CBC Archives)

Game #42 Review: Maple Leafs 1 @ Flyers 4 1/10/09




Stars align

There's something about watching the Flyers on Hockey Night in Canada that just feels right. It's like listening to music on vinyl, or like reading the bible in Hebrew or something.

And the Hebrew is even more fun when it tells the story of the Flyers winning.

  • Getting outshot by a lot (42-30) yet winning convincingly makes for my favorite kind of games. Like most every game in the Montreal series last year. The shot count really didn't reflect control of the game. This win never felt in danger.
  • Martin Biron was super solid, again. This is nothing like the Biron we saw at the beginning of the season, and it's easily a Biron we could see real deep into the playoffs.
  • Talk of Jeff Carter's slump led to him scoring twice to reach an NHL-leading 29 goals, breaking what had been a three-way tie with Vanek and Ovechkin. Remember when Toronto was about to get Carter at the trade deadline last year? Yikes.
  • I predicted Scottie Upshall would have a great game, and he did. He didn't score like I wanted him to, but that pass to Andrew Alberts (for his first goal in 162 games) was a thing of beauty.
  • Kimmo Timonen notched his 24th assist on the first Carter goal. That's a whole lot. Biron got his third assist on the same goal. Is that a lot for a goalie? I really don't have any idea.
  • As much as I hate the Yankees, they serve a purpose. Having the Yankees be relevant is important for baseball, just like having the Maple Leafs relevant is important for hockey. And these Maple Leafs are totally irrelevant. Luke Schenn is good, though.
  • Flyers are now only two points back of the Capitals. With a game in hand. Booya.
  • Who was it who predicted a 4-1 Flyers win? I wonder...

Two days off, then Penguins. We beat them convincingly and Michel Therrien is most certainly fired. Sounds like motivation enough for anyone.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Game #42 Preview: Maple Leafs @ Flyers 1/10/09


After looking solid yet sloppy against the Wild, the Flyers get the great pleasure of continuing their homestand againstg one of the worst teams in the conference, the Toronto Maple Leafs. This will be the second meeting between the two teams, the first being won by the lowly Leafs 4-2 in Toronto
Why The Flyers Will Win:
  • Flyers have to be enjoying life at home. Winning breeds winning, and that's exactly what the Flyers do at the Wach, winning seven straight. Fans, too, are sure to be fired up, as they get to hear two anthems for the price of one tonight.
  • Jeff Carter probably just realized he has only one goal in eight games. He's sure to remedy that.
  • Martin Biron is playing with as much confidence as ever.
  • The Leafs suck, the Flyers don't. That counts for a lot.

Why The Maple Leafs Will Win:

  • For whatver reason, the Flyers have not played well against Toronto in a while, losing their last three.
  • Though they won against Minnesota, it really was not textbook stuff. Thinking that was good enough is unlikely, but on the off chance it happens it would be bad.
  • Biased Hockey Night in Canada officiating.

Prediction: Flyers by three, either 4-1 or 5-2. And Scottie Upshall will score at least one.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Nothing Like a Little Pre-Game Passive Aggression

From the Flyers P.R. blog, On The Fly:

Schenn over Sbisa? - Flyers rookie defenseman Luca Sbisa was not chosen to participate in this year's YoungStars Game in Montreal, part of the NHL All-Star weekend. The game features 10 NHL rookies and 10 sophomores playing against one another.

Two defensemen are chosen from each conference, and Toronto rookie Luke Schenn was picked ahead of Sbisa despite playing in eight fewer games and having four fewer points for a club that looks poised to miss the playoffs for a fourth straight season. He is the only representative from a Canadian team on the Eastern Conference squad.

Gotta love that.

Nine Best of 2008 -- #7

The only game on the countdown from the 2008-2009 season comes in at #7. Odd scheduling made it so that all four regular season games vs. the Carolina Hurricanes were to be played across only a sixteen day span. The match-up was a good one for the Flyers, and saw the team come away with seven of the eight available points.

No points came in more dramatic fashion than the final two. Flyers dug themselves into a 5-1 hole after two with generally crappy play, especially from Antero Niittymaki. But things started to turn around in the third, with the Wachovia Center remarkably not empty.

Scott Hartnell's first of what would be two hat tricks in a week got the Flyers to 5-3, and goals by Scottie Upshall and Simon Gagne tied the score, helped by way more solid play from Niittymaki.

Flyers won the shootout easily, 2-0, on goals from Gagne and Mike Richards, meaning that the Flyers put six unanswered pucks in the net.

With the Flyers currently in third and the 'Canes in seventh, a first round playoff meeting between the two teams is not totally out of the question. And based on this game, it's safe to say there's no one I'd be happier facing.

Lasse, Go Home!

Lasse Kukkonen got put on waivers for the second time on Thursday...let's hope it sticks this time.

The waiver is presumably to make room for Briere's return, though I think not wanting Kukkonen to play for the Flyers ever again is also a valid and important reason.

A Little Room to Breathe

Not a ton of breathing room, but some. This Flyers win last night was enhanced by losses from New Jersey and Pittsburgh (both to crappy teams in Atlanta and Nashville, respectively), as well as a Rangers loss last night. The New Jersey loss was especially key, as it takes away the ability they'd had for a long time to catch up based solely on games in hand.

In the conference, the Flyers are still in third, behind second place Washington by four points, and first place Boston by an obscene eleven points.

If the playoffs started today, it would be #3 Flyers vs #6 Devils. And you should remember what happened the last time we saw that scenario...

Raise your hand if you'd like to see that again come April.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Game #41 Review: Wild 1 @ Flyers 3 1/8/09



Home is where the win is.

The Flyers got plenty of fan support during their road trip (six games, six sellouts), but nothing compares to playing at home in a building full of the best hockey fans in the country.
A slow start and a buttload of penalties weren't enough to stop the Flyers at home, where the Flyers have now won seven straight.
  • I remembered during this game why I never watch the Wild. They play the most boring post-lockout hockey imagineable. It's like New Jersey during their cup years, but without as much physicality.
  • The Flyers played as well on special teams as any team possibly could. 1-for-1 on the power play, and 8-for-8 on the penalty kill. That's 9-for-9 as a team, and conversely 0-for-9 for the Wild. Nice stuff. But of course, giving up eight power plays is totally unacceptable, especially on so many dumb penalties. Especially the too many men penalty during a penalty kill.
  • Nice to see Scottie Upshall get on the score sheet for the first time in way too long. It was only his sixth goal of the season, but it sure was a pretty one. First star, too.
  • How awesome was the straight out of the penalty box fight between Arron Asham and Erik Reitz? Don't know that I've ever seen players go straight from the penalty box to each other before. Well, at least not in a game from this decade.
  • Nicklas Backstrom set a Wild record for longest shutout streak at just short of 150 minutes. He was solid in the first half of the game, though once the streak was broken, he was decidedly less than tremendous.
  • Martin Biron, on the other hand, was very solid, for the second straight game. This is the kinda play we need from him down the stretch and into the playoffs.
  • Luca Sbisa was not missed. And as long as the team stays reasonably healthy, he really shouldn't be needed the rest of the year. Let him bulk up and develop with the Phantoms.
  • I know it's not as important with a two-goal lead, but that was a really pathetic effort to get the puck in the empty net. Especially by Simon Gagne. Be a little more eager to pad your stats, dude.

That Gagne nonchalance spoiled my prediction of a three-goal win. But I'm still pretty happy with my clairvoyance.

Toronto, who got crushed tonight, are up next on Saturday, for a little Hockey Night in Canada action.

Carter Lone Flyer To Make All-Star Game

Jeff Carter, the NHL goals co-leader, was the lone Flyer put on the Eastern Conference roster for the 2009 All-Star Game. Carter wasn't even on the ballot, but led the league in write-in votes.

So did the other Flyers, the ones who were actually on the ballot, get screwed? It's not what I should be thinking, but my reaction is no. Daniel Briere has missed way tooKimmo Timonen is a phenomenal pure defensemen, but doesn't have the offensive stats that voters look for when getting people in the offense-happy all-star game. Simon Gagne missed a bunch of games with injury, and has cooled off since his hot start. Mike Richards may have the strongest beef, with his character play, and only two fewer points than Carter, but he may not have been flashy enough to elbow his way in to this crowded group.

The crowding was made even worse this year by out of control fan voting. The two teams whose fanbases did the best job were Montréal fans and Pittsburgh fans. Pittsburgh fans had the most help getting their two All-Star game starters, Crosby and Malkin in, since those are actual deserving players who would have gotten votes from non-Pittsburgh fans. But Montréal got a whopping four players in the starting lineup: Alex Kovalev, Andrei Markov, Mike Komisarek, and Carey Price. Markov getting in is understandable, and outside of his absolutely shitteous play against the Flyers last year (for which I am forever grateful), Carey Price has a case. But Alex Kovalev and Mike Komisarek getting in is absolute garbage. Kovalev especially, getting a starting spot in place of the league's undisputed MVP, Alex Ovechkin.

Changes have to come to the voting system, but I think it's safe to say that other teams should have bigger beefs than should the Flyers.

Here are Carter's subdued thoughts on the selection:

Game #41 Preview: Wild @ Flyers 1/8/09


Home sweet home. And halfway home. Whichever aspect of this homecoming you think is more important for the Flyers, there's one thing that's for certain: this is a big game.

After going 2-2-2 on an absurdly injurious road trip, the Flyers return home to the Wachovia Center to face a hot team in ugly jerseys, the Minnesota Wild.

Why The Flyers Will Win:

  • The Flyers played extremely solid hockey, especially defensively, in their last game against the Washington Capitals. A lot of that momentum should carry over.
  • In their four losses during the road trip, the Flyers scored a combined three goals. That has to come to an end soon, right?
  • Fans who haven't seen the team since last year are sure to be loud, and pumped up by the newly close division standings.
  • Mike Richards, Kimmo Timonen, and Simon Gagne are sure to play well to show the All-Star roster makers how much they got wrong. Jeff Carter, conversely, should play well to validate his roster spot.
  • Flyers are 4-1-0 all-time against the Wild in Philadelphia.
  • Marion Gaborik, one of about three Wild players I could name,

Why The Wild Will Win

  • Nicklas Backstrom (the Capital) scored the lone goal for Washington on Tuesday, and the other Nicklas Backstrom (the Minnesota goalie) has two consecutive shutouts. Any deja vu would be bad.
  • Flyers haven't seen each other in anything but white for a while--there could be some confused turnovers because of that

Predicition: Flyers win by at least three.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Joffrey Lupul: Unplugged

You may have seen Joffrey Lupul's guitar before if you saw his episode of Flyers Cribs, but never before have you heard Lupul sing. Singing depressing songs on a rooftop is more the kind of thing an Islanders player should be doing, but Lupul sang away anyhow this summer, for an NHL films crew.

Maybe he'll go do some open mic nights during his time on the IR. Either way, Lupul's Jack Johnson impression tops the Bruins, and demolishes the Caps AND their eye-liner (courtesy of Capitals Kremlin).

Wise Words From Riley Cote

I didn't do a ton of writing on Bruce Boudreau running his mouth, because I thought it was all pretty stupid and meaningless. But pretty much everyone on the Flyers got asked about it, with different levels of engagement in their responses. My favorite stuff quotes, though, came from team poet laureate, Riley Cote.

From the team P.R. blog, On The Fly: (Link)

Cote said the following, before the Flyers-Capitals game at the Verizon
Center on Tuesday night:

"I didn't read the article, I only kind of heard about it second hand. The fact that he's wasting his energy and time talking about something like that, he's just nit-picking I think. He's digging for something to talk about. We won last game, we played a good team game. You get into a couple fights, and you win some and you lose some. Brashear is a tough guy, there's no question. I don't feel bad. So I did my job, came out on the wrong end of the stick, big deal? It's a whole new game tonight and a brand new battle.

"I'll be the first one to tell you I got my ass kicked. I really don't care, I got back up and fought him again. For me, it's no big deal. All that stuff just gives me more incentive to do my job better. I'm sure the team can say the same thing.

"If you've got a coach chirping at the way we play, I take that as a compliment because that's Flyers hockey and we're not going to back down from anybody no matter how physical a team is."

Cote also scoffed at the suggestion that the Flyers were running up the score.

"How do you run the score up in hockey? I mean, it's a hockey game. You try to score goals. I don't know how you can run the score up unless you pull the goalie or something."

As for his shot at Cote for losing the battles with Brashear...

"He can carve me up all he wants, I'm still going to come out swinging."

Beautiful stuff, Riley.

Game #40 Review: Flyers 1 @ Capitals 2 (SO) 1/6/09




Fatty Backstrom struggles to keep up.

The game went exactly as I predicted. Shootout victory for the Capitals which left the Flyers satisfied and the Caps super happy.

What I didn't expect was the defensive effort from the Flyers, holding the Caps to only one goal. This was a really nice game for the Flyer D, who not coincidentally have avoided most of the injury wave. I'm not worried about the Flyers' ability to score goals come playoff time, it's the defense that gives me pause. And they played a real nice game tonight, from the goal line out.
  • The Devils' regulation loss tonight really helped make this loss not so bad. We're a game away from the half-way point, and though making the playoffs is looking pretty safe, a division title since 2004 would be much appreciated.
  • Hats off to Marty Biron. The one goal against was by far his lowest in some time, and tonight certainly represented his best effort since that shutout of Buffalo. He was pretty decent in the shootout as well, though in a losing effort. He had some absolutely atrocious technique in the second period, and needed a two-pad stack from Ossi Vaananen at one point to stop a Nylander shot, but other than that he was real good. This will be a good time for him to get a lot of games in, with the injury to Niitty hopefully ending in time for Biron to recover from all the starts during the all-star break.
  • Two goals in three games for Braydon Coburn. No reason he can't get up to ten goals by the end of the season.
  • Next to Ovechkin, the easiest player to identify out there on the ice tonight was Luca Sbisa. He's like a mini-Briere (yes, I realize normal-size Briere is like 5'7'') out there, minus the goal scoring ability. If he works on his finishing ability, he could be a real scoring threat. Until then, he's something of a liability because of the penalty taking. You think as a defenseman he'd be more of a backchecker.
  • Thank god there's no shootout in the playoffs, or this would be a real issue. Three in a row makes me hate them even more. The Flyers just stink at these things. All three players tried the exact same move tonight, and all three almost scored on it. Almost doesn't cut it, though. There should be more going for broke in the OT to avoid them at all costs.
  • Dontcha wish we got to play the Penguins sooner than a week from now? Let's pray they haven't recovered by then.
I really don't like sugarcoating all these losses like I've been doing. It's just that these losses really haven't been that sour. All the same, it's time for a new, more Philly outlook on things. So I say that from here on out, anything less than two points is unacceptable. Road trip is over, and 2-2-2 is about as mediocre as it could've been.

So wins only, from here on. Especially against Minnesota on Thursday. Git 'er done, boys, or I'll be one pissed-off fish.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Game #40 Preview: Flyers @ Capitals 1/6/09

The Capitals clearly seem to think this is their biggest game of the season. The Flyers, who were absolutely ecstatic after a loss to Los Angeles of all teams, don't. The Caps come in with incredible hunger (though possibly the same hunger they had in that 7-1 loss in December...), whereas the Flyers come in with scrolls of injuries and a sort of disconcerting "losses are good enough" mindset.

All the same, D.C. has always been a happy place for the Flyers. I know it has been for me. Sitting behind the Caps bench at USAir Arena, forming an orange backdrop for the TV cameras, having "Let's Go Flyers chants" drown out the PA system, and so on.

And then there was last April. Boy, was that fun. Leonsis did a phenomenal job of keeping Flyers fans from taking over the Verizon Center like they usually did, so there were only about 100 or so clad Flyers fans in attendance. And Caps fans had never been nastier or more riled up into their new found "redness" or whatever. A couple people tried to start fights with me, the most notable being a guy who eventually got restrained by his grandkids.

And of course, I brought my camera.

Sigh, good times.

Why The Flyers Will Win:

  • The Flyers are way up in the Caps' kitchen. Like WAY up in their kitchen. The Caps couldn't score on thirty-nine shots in two periods last game, and despite outshooting the Flyers , they lost 7-1. 7-1. This in a game with much of the same pre-game talk of life-or-death from the Caps, they came out and laid an egg. The Capitals core of players has only ever played one playoff series (and acted like they'd never been there before, too), and seem to be irreparably scarred from it. Bruce Boudreau and Mike Green especially. As much as they talk, the Caps have a huge mental block when it comes to the Flyers that they may never get over.
  • The Flyers have played well in games with standings implications. Since the Rangers reclaimed first last night with a win over the plummeting Penguins, this is one of those games. The Caps may not need motivation, but the Flyers might.
  • It's not just me, the Flyers themselves obviously will have a lot of good memories coming back to DC. Like this one:

  • Since Lupul is out of the lineup, no Flyer should have better memories of Game 7 than Martin Biron, a player who thrives on confidence.

Why The Capitals Will Win:

  • Alex Ovechkin.
  • Simply put, the Caps have been playing MUCH better than the Flyers of late. Injuries have something to do with it, for sure, the but Caps have been winning games, even when they're not playing well. Especially at home, where the Caps have posted a gross 17-1-1 record. The Flyers, on the other hand, are only 9-6-5 on the road.
  • Alex Ovechkin.
  • Motivation has to mean something, right?
  • Alex Ovechkin.

One more thing about Ovechkin: Especially in the wake of his ridiculous snub for the All-Star game, he might feel some extra motivation to put up big numbers with his NHL goals co-leader (Carter) on the ice. Could go the other way, too, naturally.

Carter, though, might be more concerned about projectile beer bottles.

Puck drops at seven. We predict a Capitals OT/SO win that leaves the Flyers satisfied and the Caps ecstatic.

Monday, January 5, 2009

All That Salt...

...would probably not be enough for all the Flyers wounds at the moments.

Here's Holmgren updating the injury status of seemingly three-quarters of the team. Get comfortable before you watch this, he's got a lot to say.

And if Paul went too fast for ya there, no worries, Ed Moran took copious notes.

Nine Best of 2008 -- #8

The eighth-best game of 2008 in the countdown is kind of an odd pick. It didn't lead to anything, it wasn't even that close a game for the most part.

But it was super important all the same. The Flyers went into Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals down 3-0. The Flyers hadn't played too badly in Game 1, but really stunk up the joint in Game 3, easily their worst game of the year. Facing a sweep at the hands of Sidney Crosby and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and without two of their top defensemen in Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn, the Flyers needed to salvage something, if for no other reason than to avoid the embarrassment of a sweep and to make the last game of the season at the Wachovia Center a win.

And win they did. Three garbagey first period goals from Joffrey Lupul, Daniel Briere and Jeff Carter put the Flyers comfortably up, and gave fans something to cheer about for the first time in weeks. Jordan Staal knocked a couple past Martin Biron in the third, but the Flyers hung on, and Lupul added an empty netter to lock in the win with the score of 4-2.

But the fun didn't stop after the second Lupul goal. Derian Hatcher (remember him?) beat the living crap out of Ryan Malone, and then Mike Richards treated Sidney Crosby with the respect he deserves.

Flyers lost Game 5 badly, but that shouldn't detract from how awesome Game 4 was. For that one night (and the two days between Games 4 and 5), the Flyers gave their fans reason to be happy, reason to be hopeful, reason to believe. And that's what being a fan is all about.

Well, not really. But it's a nice idea.

Fly-By: 1/4/09

The Flyers may be jetlagged, but the internet is always well caffeinated.
  • Richards Best Captain Ever? (philly.com) It starts off good, but then it gets ridiculous. I love Richie more than the next guy, but come on... It's about a decade too early to start thinking about putting him ahead of Clarke. Kudos to whoever at philly.com managed to not get their name on this one...
  • Corey Perry Suspended For Hit on Giroux (James Mirtle, fromtherink.com) He has to cough up $114,516.12, which is four games pay for him. The league should also suspend Crosby, while they're at it. Oh, and revoke Alex Semin's testes.
  • Flyers Officially Trying to Land Winter Classic at Penn State (Philadelphia Daily News) The Bruins hosting either the Rangers or Canadiens at Fenway seems to be the front runner for 2010 as far as I can tell, but wouldn't it be better to not do the two most iconic ballparks back to back? Spread 'em out a bit, I say. Here's hoping the Flyers' 2009 Stanley Cup win cements the Happy Valley bid.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Game #39 Review: Flyers 1 @ Kings 2(SO) 1/3/09



2 (SO)
Down, but happy.

This game never really seemed to get out of first gear, not entirely surprising given that the Flyers probably burned out their clutch in that second period of the Ducks game. Decent but unspectacular goaltending foiled far below spectacular offense from both sides. And a point is a point. And three out of four points in California is not bad. It's not perfect by any means, but we feel better about it when we come up with excuses.

Some quick thoughts...

  • FIFTH straight road sell-out. In another market with mediocre attendance. Flyers = America's Team?
  • A point is better than no point. Especially when that one point puts you in sole possession of first in the Atlantic for the first time all season, with a Rangers loss to the Caps last night.
  • The Flyers are absurdly injured at this point. When Luca Sbisa is forced to play forward, you're having injury problems. When Luca Sbisa is a STARTING forward, it's gotten completely out of hand. Gone is "Broad Street Bullies" for the time being, we've got "Team Red Cross" now.
  • He's been ultra solid in regulation, but Antero Niittymaki has been exposed as an awful shootout goalie. Pull to the right, let him go down, put it over his glove. The Devils did it twice to win, now the Kings did it twice to win. I think some thought has to be given (at least come March or so when things get tighter) to putting Biron in net for shootouts. Hey, it worked for Gordon Bombay and Julie Gaffney...

  • As bad as Niittymaki is at 1-on-0's, , Scott Hartnell is infinitely worse. He has gotten an amazing number of breakaways in the past few games, and always manages to make an ass of himself. I laughed when he got awarded a penalty shot, and had absolutely zero confidence in him doing anything but embarrassing himself. Especially in a situation like a penalty shot where there's no backcheckers, he should just wind up between the dots and rip a slapshot, which is by far his best weapon. Save himself the humiliation. Hartnell's on pace for thirty goals, but he might as well just dump and chase if he finds himself alone inside the blueline.
  • As it's abundantly clear from the locker room interviews... ...it's good to see the Flyers staying calm and grounded. Let's hope they get their pulses up a little bit though before they play the Caps, though.

Flyers flew home to Philly for a day or so back home before hopping on the train south to DC. I would say that returning to Philadelphia makes this a seperate road trip if anyone asked me (no one asked me).

There will be a lot of good memories returning to Verizon Center to face the Caps. A lot. Even that beer bottle to Carter's head.

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Almost as much fun as seeing the team you love win is seeing the team you hate lose. And lose. And lose some more. And lose some more badly, to crappy teams, no less.

That's exactly what the Pittsburgh Penguins have been up to. Today's 6-1 beatdown at home vs. the Florida Panthers was a thing of beauty, and moved the Penguins down into ninth place, out of playoff position. Sidney Crosby jumped a guy and got nineteen minutes of penalties for it (an offense that would get anyone else a suspension). Fleury got pulled for Sabourin, then Sabourin got pulled for Fleury.
Rumors are swirling around the firing of Michel "I'm embarrassed by my French name, so call me Mike" Therrien, and trade rumors are swirling around Jordan Staal, who seems to me to be the player they would least want to lose.
Crosby has been called out for being a crappy captain, Malkin has been horrible, and fans are booing their pathetic efforts.

The Igloo is burning, Flyers Fans, so gather 'round. Grab a stick, Flyers fans, and shove a few marshmallows on it. This is pretty sweet.

Game #39 Preview: Flyers @ Kings 1/3/09

Flyers take the freeway down to the House of Kobe for the second of back-to-back games in Southern California, this time against the less-than-regal Los Angeles Kings, who currently rest at fourteenth in the West.

Why The Flyers Will Win:
  • The Flyers are playing with a lot of confidence now, even if they're not playing their best technically. And Los Angeles is not good enough to beat a confident team.
  • I have a hunch that newly minted forward Luca Sbisa is gonna score like five goals tonight. Against Anaheim he was bouncing around like a ping pong ball, and managed to put himself in the net, if not the puck. By the second game he should have the hang of it.
  • Now that La Barbera got traded, I can name exactly TWO Kings players, Stamkos and Handzus. I like 'Zus a lot, but no way he's enough for them to win this.

Why The Kings Will Win:

  • The Flyers won last night, but they played anything but solid hockey. The offense-only game last night was a lot of fun to watch, but it's not a style that's gonna lead to any long term success. If the Flyers don't clean up their defense some (lookin' at you, Randy Jones)Jones), they could be in trouble.

Goin' to Rangers @ Caps tonight in DC. Here's hoping they both lose.

In Case You Haven't Heard...

First place, baby.

I'm going to the Rangers-Capitals game tonight, and guess I have to pull for the Caps. Better to shore up first in the division and a top three spot than to worry too much about seeding home ice in the second round, I guess. My main concern is that it doesn't go into overtime. Do not need three points getting spread around.

Game #38 Review: Flyers 5 @ Ducks 4 (SO) 1/2/09

5 (SO)


This was a really fun game. Not a lot of defense, a lot of hitting, two fights in the first period, a six-goal second period, a shootout. What more could you ask for? And a shootout win is just as good as a regulation win when facing an out-of-conference foe.
  • I know New Jersey and Washington to be often overrun by Flyers fans, but I totally didn't expect to hear "Let's Go Fly-ers" chants drowning out the crowd in Anaheim of all places. Anaheim is about as far from Philadelphia as you can get in the NHL. There've been big Flyers contingents in the stands all road trip long. Flyers fans who don't get to see the club in person much are turning out for these games, making the first four of the six on the road trip all sell outs. And setting all-time attendance records in Chicago and Anaheim. Pretty cool.
  • Scottie Upshall doesn't seem to have missed a beat.
  • That was not a great effort by Martin Biron for most of the game, but he played as well as he needed to, getting the two points and the win. It was a real good shootout effort from him, which has definitely been his Achilles' heel.
  • The color issues CSN Philly were having were actually kinda fun. The orange on the Flyers jerseys was often hot pink, sometimes blue, sometimes purple. It added even more surreality to the second period.
  • Claude Giroux is just up from the AHL and is getting to lead off shoot-outs? Like the confidence in him, but maybe lets key things down just a bit. Mike Richards played his shootout round perfectly, so it was all good.
  • The Flyers two got goals from their defensemen tonight, with Ossi Vaananen and Braydon Coburn. Those two goals are two more goals than the Flyers got from their defensemen during the seventeen games of the 2008 Playoffs...
  • Speaking of unlikely goal-getters, kudos to Josh Gratton on his first of the season.
  • J-S Giguere's style of goaltending looks like a third grader thought of it. The old strategy of putting the fattest kid possible in net so he takes up as much space as possible. Who goes down on EVERY shot? As a disciple of the Parent-Hextall school of goaltending, I can't think of any worse strategy. God only knows how he got all those shutouts in those 2003 playoffs.

Onto Los Angeles for the Flyers, to play the struggling Kings. Will they get a sweep in California? Will it be another sell out? Will anyone have heard of the Kings' starting goalie? Only time will tell.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Nine Best of 2008 -- #9

In honor of 2009 (and figuring out how to embed NHL videos), I bring you a countdown of the nine best Flyers games of the year gone by, 2008.

Number nine is from February 25th of last year. The Flyers were in complete freefall, falling from the the top of the conference to out of playoff position in no time flat. The Flyers had lost a mind-numbing ten straight, including an especially pathetic effort vs. Florida in a 2-1 loss in Philadelphia in their last game.

With Stevens' firing seemingly imminent and the trade deadline on the horizon, panic had set in. And it didn't help when Buffalo got off to a quick 3-0 lead in the first.

But then...

...well, watch for yourself

Danny Briere's shootout winner against his former squad ended the Flyers skid and set the team back on the course for the playoffs. Without this win, none of the 2008 playoff magic would have been possible.

Good times.