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Monthly Archives: May 2010

Let’s Get the Split! Carbomb’s Return? UPDATE: JVR and Parent out, Bartulis and Carcillo In

Tonight the Flyers hope to overcome the 6-5 loss on Saturday night. With one more game left before a couple home games, this one is pretty important. Grab the momentum and go home with a chance to take them both and go up big is something this team would love to do. Saturday nights game was a back and forth track meet with little to no defensive play. Both teams came out firing on all cylinders offensively and looked to score goals, yet the first lines of each respective teams were not the ones doing it. The bottom lines provided most of the scoring and the defensive coverage was pretty terrible. Tonight will be a tighter game, and the Flyers need to do a little more of getting the puck in deep and laying the body to nullify Chicago’s speed a bit. Leighton was yanked in the second period after allowing 5 goals but he will start tonight. Boosh didn’t know where his post was on the goal in the third period that ultimately lost us the game. Ryan Parent clocked less than a minute of ice-time after being on the ice for Chicago’s first goal after we went up 1-0 in the first. He was benched obviously for his lackluster play, and I don’t blame Lavvy. The coverage in our own zone was just lost and they skated around us and scored.

Speaking of Parent, word on the street is that he will be benched tonight. We will be playing only five defenseman, because a certain forward is making his way back into the line-up.

Dan Carcillo will return for the first time since Game 3 of the Montreal series when he was scratched in lieu of Jeff Carter’s return to the line-up. Look for him to play some minutes with the checking line with Betts and Lappy but also don’t be surprised if he gets some time on Richie or Giroux’s line. Hopefully his homage of growing a Broad Street Bullies era mustache will pay off for the Finals, because we need some toughness out there. If he can lay some nice checks, keep his cool and bait some players into taking penalties, it will be just as effective as scoring goals. It’s only a matter of playing tight defensively tonight and coming out strong like they did in the first period. I can see us winning this game if they play like I know they can play.

Image courtesy of the Philly Phour

UPDATE:

Okay so I jumped the gun on this one with the early reports. It appears that Ryan Parent will indeed sit out, but so will JVR so Carcillo and Bartulis will play. I know JVR is a good player, but he hasn’t been doing anything spectacular with the time he’s had since his goal in Game 7 of the Boston series. I think a benching will give us a chance to get Carcillo out there for some energy, and the lines will look a lot deeper tonight with a goal scorer and a guy that can bang on each line. Bartulis in my opinion, is going to turn out way better than Parent ever will so I think he will be used sparingly, but should do alright in his role rotating in with our main four guys.

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2010 in Playoffs

 

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Series Preview: The Finals

If you are not pumped up for this series as a Flyers fan, you must be dead. Tonight is Game 1 for a team that we’ve followed all year through the good and bad, and now they’re so close to capturing Lord Stanley’s Cup. Once again, history will be made since both teams are about to end a Cup drought. 35 years for the Flyers, and 49 for the Blackhawks. The Flyers go into tonight’s game as the series underdog, with much of the media and hockey faithful picking the Blackhawks to win it. If the Blackhawks actually believe that, they’ve got another thing coming because I don’t know where they got this sense of entitlement. Yes, they’re fast and talented and they have some scoring depth, but since when are the Flyers a one-line team? Here are my keys to a Flyers Stanley Cup win:

Hot Goaltending
In every series, goaltending is a key to the game. They can steal you a game and they can lose you one, but this match-up is pretty interesting. Two relative no-names this season have emerged this postseason as playoff-caliber goalies and have put up outstanding numbers in helping their teams reach this point. The question is, which goalie will remain hot in the final push for the Stanley Cup? Will Michael Leighton pitch some more shutouts like he has all year? Will Niemi weather the storm of the Flyers crashing the crease? The Flyers will need some ugly goals to beat Niemi, and I think they plan on doing it just as they’ve done all playoffs; with grit and skill down low in the offensive zone.

Containing the First Line
It’s no secret that Johnathan Toews line with Patrick Kane and Dustin Byfuglien has been a force this postseason. Toews and Kane are arguably one of the most dynamic duos in hockey at this point, and matching their speed and skill be tough. Luckily, we have a pretty good top-four defensive corps that looks to shut them down. Depending on how the series goes, I’m not sure whether we will see Pronger-Carle on this line or Timonen-Coburn. Timonen would be great at stopping Kane and Toews, but it’s not secret that Byfuglien will be in the crease causing problems and will need a bit body guy like Pronger to move him. If we can contain this first line, we force them to use their 2nd and 3rd, which are pretty good as well. However, the second line with Hossa and Sharp can be pretty good but I believe they can be contained with the other pairing. Versteeg on the third line is a guy that we gotta watch out for, but I think up and down our offense is better throughout.

Forward Depth
I’ve surprisingly read a lot of writers saying that the Blackhawks definitely have more forward depth than the Flyers. I’m hard fought to believe that. Really? I understand their top two lines are pretty good, and their third line can hurt you too. Our first two lines boast Mike Richards with Carter and Gagne, and our second line has Danny Briere with Hartnell and Leino. I know these aren’t blockbuster lines, but they’ve been very effective this postseason. If they’re going to match it up that way, I’d say our third line is way better than theirs. Claude Giroux’s line centering Asham and JVR has been great at creating scoring opportunities. Obviously, Claude Giroux has stepped it up this postseason and is a good reason for his line’s success. I think he will be one of the x-factors in this series and take over the game at times. I don’t see their third line matching ours. Our fourth line will be an effective checking line and get our team going, but I expect Madden and Eager to set the tone on their checking line as well.

Who Wants it More?
It’s going to be a tough series and a close one. Both of these teams don’t see each other much at all during the regular season, and the only time they did the Flyers won in dramatic fashion in the waning seconds of the game. If Laviolette can make some adjustments to the Chicago’s speed and style and do what he’s done coaching thus far, the Flyers will be in good position to win. I am a firm believer in my Flyers, and they’ve answered the bell throughout these playoffs. They’ve picked up a lot of fans along the way who left them for dead, and now they just have to execute. I don’t hate Chicago, but I’m sure I will once tonight’s game starts. Our defense is going to have to play stingy, and I think they will. The Flyers are the most physical team Chicago will face in this playoffs, and they’re going to get their bodies banged a lot. Expect some big hits from Mike Richards and such to set the tone. We will wear them down physically, and make this series ours. Shut down their attack, watch their counter-attack, get our forecheck and four lines rolling, and crowd Niemi’s crease. Play like they have all playoffs, we will win.

Prediction: I’ll do it like I’ve done all playoffs… Flyers in 6. They get the split by winning tonight in Chicago, then win their home games and drop Game 5 in Chicago, THEN win it at home and bring the Cup back to the orange-filled Wachovia Center and a parade down Broad Street commences.

GO FLYERS!

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2010 in Playoffs

 

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How We Got Here

The Flyers are in the Stanley Cup Finals. The FLYERS are in the Stanley Cup Finals. Not Pittsburgh, not New Jersey, not Washington, not Boston, not Buffalo, not any of the top-seeded Eastern Conference teams. The 7th seeded Philadelphia Flyers have made it all the way and now only four wins separate them from their first Stanley Cup in 35 years. With a long 82 games season and three grueling rounds of NHL playoff action, it is easy to look past exactly what got us here. Here’s a look at some main events leading up to this wonderful playoff run:
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Posted by on May 28, 2010 in Playoffs

 

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FINALS HERE WE COME!!!

They did it, they did it, and they did it again. The team who had many writers predicting a Stanley Cup win in the beginning of the season became the team no one thought would make the playoffs. Then you have the team who wasn’t going to make it out of the first round. Then you have the team that’s the best in the East and representing their conference and city in the Stanley Cup Finals to play for the most prized trophy in all of sports. How’d they do it?

Things looked bad early when Gionta jumped on a loose puck and sent a shot in between Leighton’s legs for an early lead in the first minute of the game. On the penalty kill a few minutes later, the Canadiens were looking to go up 2-0 but Mike Richards had the shift of his life. The tiny Marc-Andre Bergeron thought it’d be cute to skate the puck in, but was met at the blue line by Richie for a brutal hit. Richie and Giroux skated up the ice, Giroux crashed the net and Richie found a trailing Coburn for a nice shot but a nicer save by Halak. The captain’s answer? Skate hard back on the forecheck along with Coburn and Giroux, and get the puck back. Giroux got the puck, softly played it to center and Richards took it as Halak was coming way out of his net along with Hamrlik behind him. The puck somehow got past the pile of people, Richie slid, got up and deposited an easy backhander into the empty net for it to be 1-1. And the Flyers never looked back.

Asham scored a key goal on a nice move to make it 2-1, and my amazing call that Carter would score happened to make it 3-1. Richie gave him a nifty pass from behind the net for an easy far-side shot by Carter. Carter would also get the empty net for a total of 4 Flyers goals, but not before Gomez scored near the end of the game for a final score of 4-2. Flyers move on to play the Blackhawks, and last night was a time to celebrate. The rest of the week is time for the team to refocus, refresh, and get the past 3 rounds out of their collective systems. The Hawks are different than any other team they’ve faced this postseason, but you can say the same for the Flyers as the Hawks’ opponent. I’ll have a full series preview later in the week. Right now I’m just enjoying the win and getting Flyer’d up. I’ve waited 13 long years for this along with the rest of you.

Cue the greatness:

 
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Posted by on May 25, 2010 in Playoffs

 

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One More Win

The Philadelphia Flyers are one win away from their first Stanley Cup Final in 13 years. It doesn’t feel like it, does it? I’m starting to get more and more Cup Crazy myself, and tonight’s game will be huge. The Flyers came out Saturday and weathered the storm. They let the Canadiens come out skating everywhere frantically with their home crowd behind them. They played their game and stuck with their system until eventually, the Canadiens had no room in the offensive zone and were dumping the puck in and making some terrible turnovers. Of course, Giroux and Leino’s goals were absolutely stunning with their dekes. Who will be the hero tonight? I have an idea of who might be:

Lappy came back on Saturday, but I hope he’s ready for tonight. This guy is going to step out on the ice tonight and the Wachovia Center will no doubt be giving him a thunderous standing ovation. He will do his job as usual and hear it from the crowd. Jeff Carter also returned on Saturday surprisingly, and had 4 shots and some good looks with his limited ice-time. He actually threw his body around and didn’t look like the guy who broke both of his feet recently. Carcillo and Nodl sat to bring these guys back, but I hope Carbomb understands what’s going on here. He is the odd man out in order to keep Leino on the team. Leino has been producing so much lately, so it made no sense to take him out. Asham has been playing great with Giroux and JVR, so keeping that line intact was also necessary. Carcillo will be back, if not this series than maybe the next. If not, he should be happy for his team because we definitely could not have gotten here without all of his drawn penalties, and his two key goals in the Devils series.

I’m expecting a Flyers win tonight. This bunch has been focused all playoffs, and they’re ready to take the Hawks on in the finals. Also, the Philly crowd is not going to let this game go back to Montreal. Expect the Flyers to try and take an early lead and get behind the crowd to submit the Habs. I predict Carter scores tonight.

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2010 in Playoffs

 

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Flyers Look to Rectify the “Old Fashioned Ass-Kicking”

When Mike Richards met with the media after Thursday’s 5-1 loss to the Canadiens, he proclaimed to the media that they suffered an “old fashioned ass-kicking” and would need to rebound in Game 4 to re-establish a series lead. Today at 3 PM the Flyers look to do exactly that to avoid going back to Philadelphia with a 2-2 series lead. Like I said in my previous post, the Flyers would probably drop one of these games in Montreal. I wasn’t expecting them to lose as handedly as they did, but I think it will serve as a wake-up call. Matt Carle and Chris Pronger had their arguably worst game as a Flyer as a pairing and individually. They both turned quite a few pucks over and were caught in their own zone in bad positioning. The upside to that? Chris Pronger doesn’t play two bad games in a row, and I’m sure he is not going to be doing that again.

The Habs used their speed to get pucks in deep and chip away at our defense, and it worked in their favor thanks to some hard work and a few lucky bounces. If the Flyers want to go up 3-1 in the series, they will need to win the one-on-one battles and establish their forecheck. It would help greatly to get that first goal and help silence that raucous French-Canadian crowd. My only hope is that they don’t intimidate the referees, because there were a few weak calls on us and a few no-calls on them last game, which could only be do to the building. I don’t want to see that happen, and I sure as hell don’t want our Flyers making this a best-of-three series if the Habs win today and tie it up at 2-2. I’d love nothing more then to shut up those fans early.

One possible lift to the Flyers this game is the return of Ian Laperriere who has been cleared to play and might make his return today or on Monday in Philly. He has been the source of heart and grit through good times and bad times this season, and I would look to him to make some big hits or plays to help us out today. It is not confirmed whether or not he will play only because the Flyers want to keep their cards close to the chest here, which is unsurprising considering we’re this far in the playoffs. Today’s going to be another game in this series, and the Flyers have put Game 3 behind them. If the Habs think they can walk into their own building tonight and win the game easy, they’re wrong. I fully expect a Flyers victory today, but I think it will be a close one. Leighton will bounce back after letting in a soft goal or two last game, and Briere and Gagne will revel in the boos and score some goals. If they keep it simple, crash the net, and get some more shots, they should win this game.

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2010 in Playoffs

 

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Flyers Have Work to Do

The Flyers are up 2-0 in the series right now and have outscored Montreal 9-0 in the first two games as they head to the Bell Centre for Montreal’s two home games. The scoreboard has made the Flyers look like they’ve steamrolled the Habs so far, but that hasn’t exactly been the case. The first period so far this series has been a problem for us and the Habs seem to come out more aggressive to start the game. Yet, we managed to come away with a 1-0 lead in both games and then start a dominant second period. That can’t happen tonight, especially in a hostile building. Montreal is a good team and you have to expect them to up the ante in front of their home crowd to avoid a 3-0 hole. They have yet to score a goal on Leighton, so they’re going to be hungry as hell looking for that one goal to set them off and gain some confidence. As a fan, I was very disappointed on Tuesday night as I watched the first period, and I hope it is not a repeat performance tonight. There’s a lot of storylines emerging in this series as Leighton has not allowed a goal since the first period of Game 7, and the Flyers have found their offensive stride and have gotten key goals from their best players as well as other players who aren’t always on the stat sheet.
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Posted by on May 20, 2010 in Playoffs

 

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