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It’s Finally Here: New Era of Flyers Hockey Begins Tonight

The Flyers return to the TD Garden in Boston tonight for the first time since they ended their playoff hopes there back in April. The Bruins, fresh off of an impressive run through the playoffs and a Stanley Cup victory, will be hoisting their championship banner into the rafters to kick off their 2011-2012 campaign. The Flyers open up their first two games on the road before heading home against the Canucks next week, so this one should be a good test.

The Bruins are largely unchanged from their roster last year, with lots of depth on the forward lines and a stout defense backed by impressive goaltenders. The Flyers are coming off a forward overhaul and a big signing of a top-tier goalie. Tonight’s game should be a great game for hockey fans to add the budding Philly/Boston rivalry that was rekindled during the Winter Classic and the 2010 playoffs. How will the Flyers match up? Will the forwards begin to gel with such a young squad? Will the defense hold up this season? Is Bryzgalov worth his price?

Forwards
The biggest makeover this season was the Flyers’ forward corps. The departures of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Ville Leino, Kris Versteeg, Darroll Powe, Dan Carcillo, and Blair Betts left holes all over our line-up. However, the additions of Wayne Simmonds, Jaromir Jagr, Jakub Voracek, Maxime Talbot, Matt Read, Sean Couturier, and (eventually) Brayden Schenn will all see action this season to fill a role. Claude Giroux, Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell, and James VanRiemsdyk will all have to carry the load for the offense as returning players. That’s not to say that the new guys will not be contributing either; because Jagr, Read, Voracek, and Simmonds will see an expanded role offensively for the Flyers. Most of these guys are very young and will have to gather chemistry with each other in order to be successful against some of the top talent in the East. Their age hopefully will equal energetic shifts that will mesh with Laviolette’s up-tempo offense.

Talbot enters as a penalty killer and checking line player that should help alleviate the loss of Blair Betts and Darroll Powe. Matt Read was spectacular in the pre-season, but can he translate that to a regular season NHl game? Can Simmonds eclipse 20 goals for the first time in his young career? Will Jagr have enough in the tank for the whole season? Can Voracek build off of his decent start and equal his trade value? And when Schenn finally plays on the Flyers, is he for real? Only time will tell, but the potential of our forwards is there. Let’s see if they can put some goals together.

Ilya Bryzgalov and Sergei Bobrovsky: The Russian Connection
Ilya Bryzgalov, the bajillion dollar man. He comes to the Flyers this season as one of the best goalies they’ve had in years. Will his success in Phoenix continue here in Philadelphia where he has arguably a better team in front of him? What about Bobrovsky? Bobrovsky could vary well be dangled as trade bait until the deadline, or he could be our young backup trying to gain a starting job in the future. I’d rather see the latter, but for once we have a solid goalie and a solid prospect at the same time. Can’t tell you the last time that happened. Let’s see what Bryz can do between the pipes tonight.

The Aging Defense
Chris Pronger, our newly crowned captain, is apparently healthy and ready to go after seeing some action in the pre-season. He returns with Kimmo Timonen, another fellow aging veteran. Matt Carle, Braydon Coburn, and Andrej Meszaros return as well as the younger guys with good NHL experience. I do not think Carle and Coburn will both be returning next season, so their play will dictate who stays and who goes. Matt Walker will be starting for the Flyers tonight after clearing waivers, and free-agent signing Andreas Lilja will be the 7th defenseman. Our defense’s success will be predicated on our older guys staying healthy and remaining effective. If they can do that, our defense should be as good if not better than last year. Also, look for Bartulis and Gustafsson to get some playing time this year if there should be any injury or Laviolette feels the need to give these guys a shot.

Flyers are set for a 7 PM puck drop aired nationally on VS. Then they’ll travel to NJ to face the Devils on Saturday night. Get ready for this one, because it’s going to be a wild ride.

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2011 in Season Previews

 

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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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History Has Been Made

What can you say about last night’s win that hasn’t been said already? We all knew the story, even the ones who jumped on the bandwagon knew what last night’s game meant. Yet, what I was a part of last night will stick with me forever.

I walked into the Wach last night for the viewing party and got my courtesy “LET’S GO FLYERS” sign. There were drunk high school kids, die-hard fans, and casual fans all around me who all wanted the same thing: one more game, and one more round. The chants were cranked up to 11 as my friends and I made our way to our seats (Section 108/109). It filled up quickly as orange quickly swallowed the dark red color of the seats. The Flyers crew was walking around, and popped up on the screen from time to time to get the fans into it. What happened next gave me as big of goosebumps as I’ve ever had an actual Flyers game: Lauren Hart coming on screen with a recording of a recent rendition of “God Bless America”. You thought it was loud when we got there? Kate Smith stole the show. I was not even a thought when she sang on this particular recording, yet I as well as everyone else in attendance knew the significance of this song. My arms were prickly with goosebumps as the last chords of the song ran out, and then it erupted as the VERSUS feed came onto the screen and showed us fellow Flyers fans going nuts.
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Posted by on May 15, 2010 in Playoffs

 

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Game 7 Tonight

Tonight at 7 PM is the most important game of the season, the hardest, and the one with the most riding on it. Next team gets home-ice for the Eastern Conference Finals against the Montreal Canadiens. I’m about to head to the Wachovia Center for the viewing party and I hope they show clips of us waving our rally towels on VS as the Flyers take us to victory. It’s going to be a tough game, and as a hockey fan, you live for stuff like this.

Regardless of the outcome tonight, like always, I will be proud to be a Philadelphia Flyers fan.

LET’S GO FLYERS!!!

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2010 in Playoffs

 

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Flyers Force Game 7!!!!

Last Friday night the Flyers were going into Game 4 at home down 3-0 and not many people thought they could actually come back and win against a defensively-sound Bruins team. The fans kept the noise going at the Wachovia Center to help their Flyers avoid a sweep and send the series back to Boston where not many people thought they could win in a hostile building. Well, Game 4 ended in dramatic fashion with Boston evening things up late in the 3rd and forcing overtime. The returning Simon Gagne became the hero and scored the game winner to extend the series to at least 5 games. Game 5 exhibited great play by the Flyers as they took advantage of the Bruins who came out pretty flat for the game. Locking up defensively and getting some offensive help, the Flyers easily took the game 4-0 even after losing Brian Boucher to injury and having to put Leighton back in. The series was going back to Philly for a Game 6, and a must-win for Boston…
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Posted by on May 13, 2010 in Playoffs

 

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Flyers Return to Boston for Another Must-Win

Friday night’s OT win was simply fantastic. Yes, the Flyers let the Bruins battle back, and yes, Recchi should have been covered on that last goal. And yes, Boosh should have been in better position. It doesn’t matter though, because Simon Gagne came back to play and help his team and he scores the OT winner… the kind of goal that a team can build on and get the ball rolling. Boston won the first 3, don’t see why we can’t win the next 3. Tonight will be another hard-fought game and should be a close one. The hardest game will be tonight because Boston will NOT want to go back to Philly with a chance to even up the series. The Garden should be popping tonight and the Flyers will have to come out from the get-go and get their lines rolling. Dan Carcillo injured his knee in Game 4 and will be a game-time decision. I’m sure he’ll play because he apparently looked good during practice.

If the Flyers improve their special teams (mainly their penalty kill) and don’t get behind early, I don’t see why they don’t take this game. If these guys play inspired hockey like they have been and do the right things, they go back to Philly with a chance to tie the series at 3, but tonight’s game comes first. I’m not ready to put my jerseys in the closet, I’m not ready to shave my beard, and I’m certainly not ready to see the season end tonight.

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2010 in Playoffs

 

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