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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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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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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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What the Flyers Need to Avoid Tonight

Last week in Montreal, the Flyers got shut out 3-0 by giving up a pair of powerplay goals and failing to capitalize on their own powerplay chances. The Canadiens carried the play in the first and then caused the Flyers to play catch-up the whole game. Tonight, the scene will shift to Philadelphia and the annoying Habs fans won’t have a chance to sing their “Nah nah nah nah hey hey goodbye” for a regular season game. The Flyers are definitely looking forward to this one as a chance to build on the sloppy game yet solid effort that they won in a shootout on Saturday against the Caps. Subban and Richards exchanged pleasantries last time around, so look for that if the game gets out of hand.

The Flyers powerplay needs to keep things simple and get shots on net with traffic in front. That’s how they were so successful earlier this month, and that’s how Flyers hockey scores on the powerplay more often than not. The penalty kill needs to tighten up for sure, but the amount of penalties taken needs to be cut down. Danny Briere’s stick infraction last game nearly lost them the game, and it can’t happen again. Good teams will make you pay for that usually, but we got a little lucky on Saturday.

They need to test Price early and often. I doubt he’s going to return another 41 save performance in Philly tonight. Boosh will get the start again tonight, and they need to make sure he feels comfortable early or it could be a long night.

James Van Riemsdyk had his best game of the season on Saturday. He was all over the ice, taking the body, and cycling the puck down low using his size. This was the JVR we wanted to see this year, and he needs to take that game and flush it. He may have played well, but the only way to show your coach that you shouldn’t be scratched again when Carcillo returns is to keep building on each game and getting better. He should be getting that first goal soon, why not tonight? If he keeps working hard and stops trying to be too fancy with the puck, the bounces will come his way.

There’s been a lot of talk about Bobrovsky being rested the past two games, but I think this is a good thing. He can take a step back and evaluate what went well with those 10+ games he saw action in and what didn’t go so well. Jeff Reese can show him some film and work him to improve his game. This also gives Boosh a chance to get some work in because you can’t play an 82-game season and win with just one goalie in today’s league. Bobs is our starter for sure, but right now as a young goaltender still acclimating to the North American culture and game, a break can be a good thing.

Tonight should be a good hockey game for fans in general, then the Flyers travel to Minnesota, back home to take on Calgary, then to New Jersey to meet the Devils for the first time this season. Should be an interesting Thanksgiving week/weekend.

 
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Posted by on November 22, 2010 in Flyers Talk and Other

 

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Season Preview: Starts in Pittsburgh

The Consol Energy Center’s opening night will have the honor of hosting the defending Eastern Conference Champion Philadelphia Flyers. The homecoming/home-breaking for one of our biggest division rivals and we have a chance to ruin it just like the Canadiens ruined the last memory of the Igloo last spring. I’m pumped.

The Flyers are coming off a Stanley Cup Final run that ended in a 6 game series with Chicago and without some pieces from that team. Losses of Gagne to trade and Leighton and Lappy to injury bring a lot of room for players to step in. Nikolai Zherdev is a man on a mission for another shot at the NHL after spending some time in the Russian KHL league, and he has a shot to now playing with some of our top profile players. Michael Leighton’s play was stellar at times last season, but fell letting in a few soft goals in the Final; including a flukey-type one that ended his team’s run. Brian Boucher is back to take it between the pipes while Russian up-and-comer goaltender Sergei Brobovsky will be dressing as the club’s backup with Johan Backlund on the Phantoms. UPDATE: Apparently Sergei Bobrovsky will get the start tonight in Pittsburgh. Can’t wait to see what this kid has in store for us this season.

Another concern on the injury front has been the absence of Chris Pronger. Pronger had some procedures done on his knee this summer before the start of camp and did not participate in the pre-season. However, we have to recognize that this is Chris Pronger we’re dealing with here, and he doesn’t necessarily need the pre-season. He knows what type of shape he has to be in at this point in his career. Tonight everyone was expecting him to play, and we know he wants to. He will not be playing tonight and Matt Walker Oskars Bartulis will be taking his place. This defense has a lot to answer for. With most of the core intact with Pronger, Timonen, Carle, and Coburn, we should be solid. We also have returning second year player Oskars Bartulis to supplement the new additions of Sean O’Donnell, Matt Walker, and Andrej Meszaros.

There are a few young players on the team who also have a lot of questions to answer this season. Ville Leino stunned and dazzled hockey fans with the opportunity he received in the Eastern Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Finals. Now this is his chance to prove to the Flyers he’s worth a new contract. Zherdev will be hoping to get another contract too, so look for these two young talents to duke it out all year. Claude Giroux and Jeff Carter are also entering the last year on their contracts, and both are due for a pay raise. This will be a problem down the road, especially with Carter’s cap hit already at $5,000 and Giroux still on his rookie contract under $1,000. JVR has added more muscle to his frame to help his play along the boards. He has the talent and skill to play in the NHL, now he just needs the grit and effort to become a true power-forward type player that he can be. I’d like to see him take it to guys on the boards and be aggressive in fighting for the puck. You got size kid, start using it.

The Pens are going to be opening their new building and trying to figure out how to get Paul Martin involved in their powerplay after losing Sergei Gonchar this off-season. They are also without Jordan Staal at this point, so for once I know our center depth is exponentially better than theirs rather than being about even as usual.

Can’t wait for tonight, should be a great game. I’ll have more on the season as it goes on. Not much to say yet since they haven’t played, but I’m sure there will be plenty to talk about soon.

 

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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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