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Monthly Archives: April 2011

2011 Eastern Conference Semi-Finals Rematch: Philadelphia (2) vs. Boston (3)

Here we are again. Last year the Flyers made history after coming back from a 3-0 series deficit to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Tomorrow at 3 PM, another series between the Flyers and Bruins will start in Philadelphia with both teams coming off of hard-fought seven game series in the first round. Both of them have questions marks surrounding some of their games, and the past two years have provided some hard-hitting and entertaining hockey between these two teams. What’s going to happen this time around?

You can bet your bottom dollar that this series will be just as physical and nasty as the Buffalo series, if not more. Boston just defeated their arch rival the Montreal Canadiens, so they have to be feeling good. But not too good, because even though last year is history (literally), the collapse is sitting well in Boston’s minds. The good thing for the Flyers is that the psyche of the team might go down if they can jump ahead in the series early. The bad thing is, they’re going to want revenge for last year’s playoffs. Both teams are strong defensively and have histories of playing old-time, bruiser style hockey. This rivalry was re-ignited last year during the Winter Classic and ensuing playoff series, so we’re in for a good one this round. Here are my keys to this series:
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Posted by on April 29, 2011 in Playoffs

 

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Flyers Draw Boston in the 2nd Round; Semi-Finals Rematch


We all remember what happened last year, when the Flyers made history against the Bruins in the second round of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. With the Lightning taking on the Capitals in the other Eastern Conference match-up, the Flyers and Bruins will once again meet in another series that promises to be just as physical and exciting as last year’s.

I will be posting a preview of the series sometime tomorrow; evaluating the momentum each team has after finishing a seven game series in the first round and what to look for as far as match-ups. This will be another tough test for the Flyers, and it all starts on Saturday.

Game 7 the other night was a fantastic effort by the Flyers all around for a complete team win. Chasing Ryan Miller from the net is no easy task, and the game finally followed the way the Flyers had been playing for most of the series. The Flyers will be facing another good American goalie in Tim Thomas for this series, so they’ll have their work cut out for them. Here are my three star players of the past series:

James VanRiemsdyk: This guy is easy to pick out. He was a never-ending motor out there, hitting everything and shooting the puck every chance he got. Even though he does not have as many goals as some other players, his role on the team shows in the way he plays. It’s no mistake why he was drafted so high in 2007, and I look forward to another series with him creating offense.

Dan Carcillo: When Carcillo has 2 goals in a playoff series, you know he has to be doing something right. In the first couple games he was on the fourth line as usual with Betts and Powe, but moved up once Nodl and Carter went down with an injury and Zherdev came in. He got to play with other gritty forwards Richards and Versteeg, and they were quite a line out there. He provided a lot of energy for the team with his hits and was great on the forecheck.

Brian Boucher: Even with his poor performance in Game 5, Brian Boucher is one of the reasons the Flyers beat the Sabres. His play was not overall spectacular, but he made the saves he had to minus one bad period and kept the Flyers in the game at times. With a tight defense around him and the calming presence he has while playing the puck, Boosh has solidified his starting role (for now).

 
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Posted by on April 28, 2011 in Playoffs

 

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Game 7 In Philly

Sorry for not being able to update after Game 5, I was home and busy with Easter stuff all weekend.

Game 5’s loss was heartbreaking, whether you count the softie goals by Boosh or the overtime winner… Sunday didn’t start any different. Luckily, the Flyers fought back in it and won with Leino’s OT goal, which came from a smart play by Kris Versteeg. Speaking of Versteeg, I’ve been very happy with his play the past three games or so and he’s finally coming into his role on the Flyers. Him and Carcillo have been great to watch on the forecheck. Pronger played with Lavy deciding to dress 7 defenseman, but only netted about four minutes of ice-time; all on the powerplay. That’s fine with me because having him on the bench and just to settle the powerplay down is a good start before he can come back and play huge minutes.

Richards had a scary moment with Tim Connolly where he checked him from behind and received a 2-minute penalty. The Buffalo faithful were clamoring for a 5 minute and a suspension, but I don’t think they will get their wish. The play was dangerous, and Richards finished his check to a guy from behind, but it was not malicious enough for a suspension. The play was at full-speed, and Connolly was changing direction. Richards should have rode him into the boards instead of extending his arms out, but it was simply a hockey play. The 2 minutes was appropriate, maybe even 4. The fact that Richie was on the PK and did not want to commit to a full body tie-up makes it harder to judge. So far, no word on any disciplinary action yet. Maybe Lindy Ruff should take his own advice and quit whining. Anyways, I digress…

Tomorrow night the Flyers CANNOT spot Ryan Miller another 2 or 3 goal lead. Hell, it’d be nice to get ahead of them on the scoreboard for once. Let’s see if they can come back from a multiple-goal lead. If they can get the crowd into it early and score a few, that momentum can carry them all the way to the next round.

Brian Boucher will be getting the start, as he should. I’d like to see Bobs back on the bench and Leighton in the press box instead, but we’ll see. Getting Bobs back into at least a back-up role can set him up for playing if we need him again. Leighton is by no means ready to play an NHL playoff game, and yesterday showed it. Boosh has always shown that he can bounce back from poor outings, and I expect him to play really well tomorrow night. The Flyers know they can win against this team, and Buffalo has to start doubting themselves now after giving up so many leads this series.

Ryan Miller may start to feel shaky too. Watching his post-game interview, he’s whining about Mike Richards getting away with “mass murder” and seems really perturbed by the Flyers. Let’s see if he has enough in him to steal another game in Philly. I don’t think so. Not this time.

Tomorrow, the puck drops at 7:30 and the sea of orange will be permeating everything that is Flyers hockey. The first 10 minutes will be huge. Will it be a track meet, up and down the ice? Or will it be a cautious, defensive-minded game where both teams are prudent and scared to give up the first goal? Let’s see what happens tomorrow. I’m not going to make a prediction, but after losing 10 years off my life during the past two games in overtime, I hope the Flyers can close it out in regulation. JUST WIN!

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2011 in Playoffs

 

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Back to Philly with Pronger; Bloodbath?


Game 4 had a lot of events that caused Flyers fans to yell at their TVs; I was one of them. Even with the poor call on Mike Richards that should have only been two minutes, the Flyers failed to get back in a game down 1-0 just like in the first game… even though they carried the play for most of the game. They can’t have that happen tonight, with the series tied 2-2 and heading back to Philadelphia. Some gamesmanship is going on right now, with Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff calling Flyers “whiners”. Kind of funny considering this is the same guy who complained about calls for the past ten years in the playoffs, specifically when they played us in the early 2000s. He can say what he wants, tonight is going to be interesting.

The Flyers plan on coming out physical and hungry for the puck, as our captain alluded to yesterday. Ruff can say what he wants, barring some bounces and saves from Miller, I feel the Flyers could easily be up 3-1 in this series, if not finished 4-0 already. Tonight will be a huge game for either team, because the next win is going to lead to elimination. It’s a best of 3 series now, and the Flyers NEED this one. Can’t go back to Buffalo and give Miller a chance to steal another game. This series should be ours, and they need to get nasty and smack the Sabres right in the mouth.

Jeff Carter injured his knee last game and should be out for the series, leaving either Nodl to come back, Shelley, or probably Ben Holmstrom. Chris Pronger fully participated in team skates the past few days and took some slap shots today. He appears ready to go, and most of the media points to him playing tonight. Let’s see if he can drop Tyler Myers and Patrick Kaleta, lord knows they deserve it after last week’s game between Myers dragging Richie on the ice and Kaleta opening the door while Zherdev is being checked into the boards. The latter being a VERY dangerous play. Guys can seriously get hurt in an event like that.

Buffalo Sabres fans on the internet have this sense of entitlement the past few days, calling Flyers fans whiners and glorifying their wins. The Flyers are hands down the better team, the Sabres have hands down the best goalie. These are the same fans who were crying for Enroth to start the playoffs and criticized us for booing at the end of game one. What now? They’re loving Miller and booed their own team last game.

Can’t wait till 7:30 tonight. The Wells Fargo Center is going to be rambunctious as usual, I wish I was going. Put-up or shut-up time for both teams, let’s hope the Flyers get some gritty goals and punish Buffalo every time they touch the puck.

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2011 in Playoffs

 

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Game 4: Swing-Game

Game 3 was the definitive test to see which team was going to take a hold of the series and control their momentum, but Game 4 tonight will be the swing-game. Up 2-1, the Flyers are facing a Buffalo team that needs a win to avoid going into Philly down 3-1. The Flyers want to win tonight to bring this series closer to an end, but they’ll have to match Buffalo’s work ethic. The Flyers have been one of the best road teams in hockey all year, let’s hope they can finish one out tonight.

A few notes about Game 3:

Nikolai Zherdev finally got a start, and scored the eventual game-winning goal. Nice to see Z get on the score sheet, hopefully he can help create more chances.

Speaking of that goal, it came from Richards and Versteeg; two players many fans have been demanding more of lately. Versteeg made a great play along the boards to force a turnover and found Richards, “Mr. Patience” as Coatesy calls him, who waited a few seconds before finding Zherdev for the easy tap in.

James VanRiemsdyk was once again an absolute BEAST on the ice. The big playoffs we’ve all been calling for seems to be coming to fruition… Let’s hope it continues.

Jeff Carter finally got on the scoreboard with a POWERPLAY GOAL. That smart guy who writes on this site predicted a Carter goal, and what better way than on a struggling powerplay? Let’s see if he can string two strong games together.

The star of the night, Brian Boucher made 35 saves on 37 shots. Albeit one goal he probably should have had, Boosh was a rock in set and kept things steady throughout the game. The defense did a great job of collapsing around him and keeping Buffalo to the perimeter, especially in the last 10 minutes of the 3rd period with Buffalo pressing and a few Buffalo powerplays.

If the Flyers put another effort in like the past few games and can find a way to get their powerplay consistent, they should be able to take this game. They’re the better team than Buffalo, and Miller is starting to get frustrated. Boosh needs to play another strong game to slow down our goalie carousel, and the Flyers need a full 60-minute defensive effort with some help from our scorers. I’ll to try and use my magic and will… maybe Mike Richards can get one tonight? It’d be nice to see our captain get his first of the playoffs tonight.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2011 in Playoffs

 

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Game 3 in Buffalo

The scene of the series shifts from Philly to Buffalo tonight. After a crazy, penalty-filled 5-4 win over the Sabres on Saturday, both teams will be looking to establish some momentum in the series. 1-1 series ties are often dangerous considering they take home-ice away from the higher-seeded team. I don’t think we will see as many powerplays as we saw on Saturday, and for the Flyers sake I hope we don’t. Their powerplay struck only one out of nine times, although some of their setups did look improved from previous games. Another emerging storyline is the Flyers’ goaltending… surprise! Bobrovsky was pulled in the first period after allowing three goals, the third being what most fans would call “soft”. Boucher came in and calmed everything down in relief, letting only one goal in to seal the Flyers victory. Apparently Michael Leighton will be backing up Boosh tonight. Bobs will be sitting in the press box to watch the game for the first time all year.

Once again, James VanRiemsdyk was a force on the ice and is developing into a big presence on the ice. Hopefully my prediction holds through the rest of the series/playoffs. Claude Giroux has also stepped his game up, and his back-checking has been amazing in hindering Buffalo crossing the Flyers’ blue line. Carcillo even got rewarded with a gritty goal, and that’s the kind that will win this series. Tonight should not be as high scoring as Saturday, and hopefully the Flyers can get a lead and protect it. Buffalo should feel good they got the split on the road, but they also should have some doubt growing now after letting five goals on their prized goaltender and supposedly good defense that helped them remain so hot down the stretch of the regular season.

Nodl suffered a cut under his eye during the game and will not play tonight per the Flyers twitter. This leaves Zherdev, Holmstrom, or Shelley to fill in for him. I’m hoping that Zherdev finally gets a chance to play, but we shall see. Pronger apparently particpated in the team skate this morning, so his return should be coming soon. I’m thinking Game 5. Carter has been snake-bitten lately in the first two games of this series and I think he’s finally going to put one in tonight to put down all of the doubters regarding his playoff capability. Richards should also find the scoresheet tonight, he’s way overdue and the internet fans are getting anxious. Regardless that he’s a great defensive forward as well, people get pissed when he does not produce a plethora of goals.

So in my eyes, Carter and Richie should have big games tonight, Boucher should get the start, and Zherdev should get a shot to play. Look for JVR to be crashign the crease again, and maybe Giroux can give us another dazzling goal. Game 3 is usually the game that sets the tone for the rest of the series. If the Flyers win tonight, all the pressure is on Buffalo to win Game 4 before going back to a possible series-ending game in Philly. If the Sabres win tonight, the Flyers have to hope to get Game 4 to take back home-ice. Should be a wild one tonight. LET’S GO FLYERS!

 
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Posted by on April 18, 2011 in Playoffs

 

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Game 2 a Must-Win?


*Image courtesy of Flyers official site.
Last night’s loss was a tough one. Losing a close game at home like that to start the series should never feel good, especially when your team carried the play for most of the game. The Flyers get back at it on Saturday though, and this is as much as a “must-win” can be for Game 2 in a series. The Flyers did a lot of things well last night, but there are some things they need to improve on. Once again, Ryan Miller proved to be the great goalie he is, but he was not tested much. The quantity of chances were there, but some of them lacked quality. Miller had too easy of a time in front of his crease with the Flyers not opting to get in his face as much as they should. This directly affected their powerplay being 0% on the night, including a brief 5-on-3 that did not execute.

To put it simply, the Flyers’ powerplay looked like they had some life at times, but still failed to create quality scoring chances on a solid Buffalo penalty kill. The last powerplay of the game with a great chance to tie the game up late in the third went awry, and no chances were created… leaving the Flyers’ comeback seem improbable. The Flyers killed off Buffalo’s only powerplay, and Bobrovsky looked like a good goaltender for most of the game. His one juicy rebound left a perfect scoring opportunity for Buffalo’s Patrick Kaleta, and he buried it. The Flyers out-shot them 35-25, and tied their regular season high with 40 hits in the game. It was just one of those games that we all knew could happen; Miller made the saves he had to and the Flyers couldn’t execute when it came down to the wire.

I’m not sure if the line-up/lines will change at all for tomorrow’s 5 PM puck drop. I would have liked to see Zherdev get in the game last night, his scoring touch could have helped. But I do understand Laviolette’s logic on that one. He had two scoring lines (Briere and Carter’s) and two checking/gritty lines (Richards and Betts’). A balanced defensive and offensive attack to take on Buffalo, but we shall see. Nodl played well last night, but I still would like to see Zherdev play for somebody. The physical game was there last night, but I’d still like to think there can be some improvement made. If they can do a better job of making Miller’s life tough in the crease and get in his face, the goals will come. The one thing that can go wrong is if they think they played a great game last night, then come out tomorrow not hungry for the puck. If that happens, the series will be over sooner than we think.

I still say Flyers in 6, the Sabres stole a close game on the road and kudos to them, but there’s a lot of hockey left. JVR had a great game last night, and I expect him to cash in tomorrow. Maybe Pronger will be back tomorrow? Who knows. Not time to panic Flyers fans, we have a good team. They just have to execute and keep it simple. Let’s Go Flyers!

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2011 in Playoffs

 

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