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Who’s the Boss? (Hint: Not Tony Danza or Mike Richards)

One of the big changes the Flyers made when shipping Mike Richards to Los Angeles besides losing one of their marquee players was that they also lost their captain who served the past two years. The announcement of the new Flyers captain for the 2011-2012 season is surely months away with training camp not even underway yet, but it is fun to speculate who might be filling Mike Richards role as the official team leader. There are plenty of good veteran choices such as Pronger, Timonen, and Briere that have had experience honing the ‘C’ on previous teams. The question is; who does Laviolette and Holmgren think best fits this team? Will he go with one of these three guys, or maybe go for a younger guy? With all the new faces on this years’ team, it is difficult to tell.

Pronger and Timonen are aging blue liners entering this season recovering from injuries sustained during the past season. Pronger had back surgery to remedy his ailment, and recovery from a procedure like that is never easy. Either of them could make the case to be the team’s captain with their leadership qualities on and off the ice. Both guys have been team leaders during their tenures here and have been active in the locker room and on the ice (supposedly, from what fans can gather). Danny Briere is finding his spot on the team after catching fire during the 2010 playoff run and carrying it into last season and always has the right things to say to the media while being a veteran leader. While any of these guys would make a good selection, there is really only one guy I see wearing the ‘C’ this season.

If Chris Pronger is healthy enough to start the season, he will be the Philadelphia Flyers’ captain. Pronger is a true veteran leader who has won a Cup and has no problem calling players out for not carrying their share of the load. He is aggressive, witty, and loves playing games with reporters during interviews. Above all, he clashed with Richards’ reclusive and laid back approach to captaincy. If the front office is serious about culture change, then they will put Pronger at the helm to do things his way this time around without stepping on Richards’ toes. We’re stuck with him for another five years, and I think Pronger is the answer at this juncture. Timonen and Briere might turn out to be chosen if I’m wrong or Pronger cannot start the season, but no one knows at this point.

In a perfect world, I see Pronger as captain with Timonen/Briere/Giroux splitting time as assistant captains. Pronger will remain captain until he retires, and then the torch passes to Claude Giroux or James van Riemsdyk. I say Giroux because if you take away the three candidates I previously mentioned, then what returning Flyer do you give it to? I’d like to think Giroux is the best option at that point. I don’t see any of the new Flyers becoming captain this year. Betts, Shelley, Coburn, Hartnell, and Meszaros are all good players and great in the team’s locker room, but I don’t see captain material in those guys. Lappy would be a good fit if he was fit to play… but for now it is a waiting game. I will be very surprised if Chris Pronger is on the active roster this fall and is not named the next captain of the Philadelphia Flyers

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Posted by on August 2, 2011 in Flyers Talk and Other

 

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Season Ends in Disappointment

To make the week of the Flyers getting swept by the Bruins, I was swamped in finals and had absolutely NO TIME to update the blog. I had a laundry list of things to say after attending Game 1, but due to my rigorous schedule I couldn’t get on a computer and talk about it. But here I am, school is done, the Flyers are done, and it’s summer break for me filled with work and enjoying the weather. The Flyers have a lot of questions to address this off-season, considering they were (supposedly) a deeper team this time around, yet fell WAY short of their expected exit. I think if the Flyers lost valiantly to the better team in a conference final or the cup finals, this pill would be a bit easier to swallow.

1. WTF do we do about goaltending?

2. How do we re-sign/replace all of our free agents?
(Leino, Zherdev, O’Donnell, Nodl, Carcillo, Powe, Boucher,Boynton)

3. Who do we dump in order to remedy our cap space that’s under $500,000? (About $430,000)

4. How will aging veterans Pronger and Timonen respond to their most recent injuries that both might require surgery?

The Flyers have a lot of options with free-agent goalies this off-season, and there are a good amount of young goalies on the market if the Flyers were looking to trade some of their bigger names in order to alleviate space and grab a goaltender until Bobrovsky can start. Signing free-agents is going to predicate on the cap space we have, and who we deem expendable. Timonen and Pronger, at this point, have until September/October-ish to get healthy. The window is closing for these guys.

I will be spending the next few weeks going more in-depth into these questions and preparing for free-agency, draft, and trades in the upcoming months.

 
 

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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 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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2011 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Philadelphia (2) vs. Buffalo (7)

Like last year’s playoffs, the Flyers have a ton of expectations on their shoulders. Last year before the first round, I alluded to my experience at a Phish concert the previous summer and frontman Trey’s bold prediction. Last summer, I attended the Phish festivities in Camden again, and Trey made another prediction:

That vacuum solo included the crowd chanting “Let’s Go Flyers!” and it continued throughout the night. So, is Trey finally right this time?
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Posted by on April 13, 2011 in Playoffs

 

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Flyers On a Break

The Flyers own a 2-2-1 record going into their 6th game of the season to continue their 5-game homestand against the Anaheim Ducks. Coming off their 5-1 loss to Pittsburgh last Saturday, the Flyers have had some time off from games until Thursday. They got to enjoy a full day off and have been conducting full practices and skates to keep the legs moving. They have a few things that they need to work on to get above .500, and hopefully they are rectifying some of the glaring holes in their game during this week.

Conditioning from practices this week will hopefully be hard, because the early season is the best time to get in game shape and guys like Chris Pronger are going to need it since he did not play in training camp. The line-up should be shuffled a bit over the next few games to accommodate different looks with guys like Andreas Nodl starting to break into the Flyers line-up. He skated pretty well with Carter and Richards, but I really think that Richie and Carter need to get separated for a game or two to see how they play with other players. I’d love to see a line getting Giroux some time with Carter and Zherdev/JVR. Richards is the kind of player that could very well center a third line with Nodl/Carcillo and Hartnell. Some tinkering could definitely produce results with the depth and talent we have.

The defense is also going to need to tighten up, which will happen in time as Chris Pronger adjusts his game back to usual. Our defense has been playing a little too much though due to the amount of penalties we’ve taken so far, especially in the last 3 games. Bobrovsky has been good, but still shows signs of a young goaltender adjusting to a foreign North American game. I still look forward to his development as our goaltender though. These next two games against Anaheim and Toronto at home are big. Anaheim has struggled out of the gate but look for Sbisa and Lupul to want to play against their former team, and don’t count out Bobby Ryan returning home to have a good game. Hopefully Pronger gets into form to play his former team because Saturday against the Leafs will be the Flyers looking to hand them a loss; something that they haven’t experienced in regulation this season yet (4-0-1).

After this homestand, it’s to Columbus, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Long Island for a little road trip. Those are some good hockey teams and the Flyers can’t afford to get behind in games at this juncture in the season. Slow starts are often hard to overcome, as previous Flyers teams have proven.

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2010 in Flyers Talk and Other

 

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