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Flyers’ Forwards: Team Toughness, Leino, Carter, Versteeg, etc.

Another big part of the Flyers’ off-season will be the re-signing of their forwards. Ville Leino, Dan Carcillo, Darroll Powe, Nikolai Zherdev, and Andreas Nodl will all be free-agents on July 1st, and the Flyers don’t have the cap space to accommodate all of them. Not all of them will be re-signed, especially with guys like Wellwood, Rinaldo, and Holmstrom hoping to crack the Flyers line-up during training camp. The forwards this year were arguably as deep as any other team, but they lacked execution during the second half of the season and could not seem to fully sync for more than a game at a time in the playoffs. There are a lot of options this off-season to fix the team, and many overlook the play of our forwards because of the goalie situation this playoff. But there definitely was something missing from our forward corps this season, so how can they fix it?
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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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Penguins Come to Philly

Thursday night’s loss to the Lightning was an emotional one for Flyers fans as they saw former Flyer fan-favorite Simon Gagne return to South Philadelphia wearing some different colors than his traditional orange and black garb. In the 3-2 loss, we were finally pleased to see Nikolai Zherdev get on the stat sheet with a nice rush with crisp passing by Giroux and JVR to find a streaking Zherdev for an easy tap-in. Brian Boucher got the start and played a great game up until he let in a pretty soft goal that turned out to be the game winner. The 4th line continues to be an effective checking line even without Lappy, and the powerplay is still struggling. The Flyers will hope to rectify that tonight when the Pens come to town for their first meeting in Philadelphia this season.

Sergei Bobrovsky will get the start tonight after going 2-0 in his first two starts. The Penguins have a bit more of a gameplan now after seeing Bobs in their home opener, so let’s hope our Russian friend can keep the puck out of the net tonight.

Scott Hartnell has been very quiet this season. Between stupid penalties, stirring the pot, and points… I feel like Scott Hartnell hasn’t even played a game for us this season (minus the Blues game in which he racked up 21 of his total 23 PIM this season with fighting majors). Danny B is still on his A-game offensively, and Leino is still finding his stride after recovering from his off-season hip surgery. If we can get Scotty and Ville going on the same burner they were on in the playoffs, that line will once again be extremely dangerous. I have been unimpressed as a whole with Carbomb’s play this season. He is -3 and has 2 PIM, and has generally been ineffective playing with top tier forwards in Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. I feel that if he doesn’t pick it up, he should be bumped down to the 4th line in favor of possibly having JVR move to the first line. Call Nodl up to play on the third line, scratch Carcillo to light a fire under his ass or simply scratch the $1.1 million dollar man Jody Shelley. I’ve actually been pleased with Shelley’s play so far and he has laid some nice checks and seems to be a competent hockey player. Defensively, I’ve seen him body players and get the puck. That’s really all I can ask for from a 4th line enforcer winger, so that has been going well. Matt Walker is injured and may require surgery, but if his move to the LTIR frees up some more cap space, so be it.

Tonight’s Prediction
Look for Claude “The Magician” Giroux to get back on the scoresheet tonight with a goal and an assist. The kid is simply too good and this year is the year I finally believe he will get enough ice-time to be the NHL star that we all know he can be. I’d also like to see Richie get his first goal of the year, and tonight may be the night. He always seems to bring his best when playing against the Penguins, and nothing would be better to start off the season 2-0 against the division. Let’s go Flyers! Face-off at 6 PM to accommodate the Phillies starting at 8. Go Phils too!

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2010 in Flyers Talk and Other

 

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Let’s Tie it Up!

Game 4 sure has all the storylines you could want to write about in a hockey game. The goalie duel, the young talent, the chance for the Flyers to take back momentum going to Chicago, Chicago’s chance to put a stranglehold on the series… Tonight is simply big. Each passing day and game makes the next one bigger, and Game 4 is the game in every series were something big can really change the outlook for each team. Don’t expect the Hawks to come out sloppy, because they’re going to do essentially everything in their power to not let this series be tied up. For the Stanley Cup, every game is becoming a must-win, because the situation it puts you in after the first two games is dire.

On Wednesday night… what more can be said about the continued late-game dominance by our guys? The past two games, the Flyers have greatly out-shot the Hawks in the third period and have carried the play. Their conditioning must be paying off because they are wearing the Hawks defenders down and beating them to loose pucks and winning battles along the boards in the third. These games have been tight as anything, and tonight should be more of the same. Claude Giroux was the hero last game, with a great deflection from Matt Carle. The play was similar to the one Carle set up Gagne for in Game 4 of the Boston series, just on the other side of the ice and with a little less movement by the players. I could watch this one all day:

A couple things that bugged me about Wednesday: Officiating and Jeff Carter. Officiating just came down to the call on Carcillo. That really angered me. Carbomb laid what Laviolette called a “clean hockey hit” and was called for “charging”. I was beyond pissed off at that point, but glad that the Hawks couldn’t cash in. Their special teams have been lacking, and the Flyers are starting to click on the powerplay. That needs to continue.

Jeff Carter on the other hand, seems to like shooting the puck into defenders ankles. I don’t know whether he’s still hurting really bad from his injuries or what, but he needs to dump the puck in or get rid of it. Too many turnovers to a great counter-attack team that are waiting to catch you with your pants down is no way to win a game, series, or Stanley Cup. He’s a great shooter, but it really aggravates me when he continuously shoots into the skates/shins of the other team. I won’t go into it now, but I’ve been saying since last year they were going to trade Carter soon. I may not be too far off with that assessment, and it seems a lot of people are coming to that conclusion too. But I won’t go there, we have a series and a big trophy to win first.

Expect JVR to make his return tonight after being benched for two games. Carcillo was not seen on the ice in the third period and overtime, so I see JVR coming into the line-up and reuniting with Asham and Giroux. If that line can get going, it will be a hell of a battle. Speaking of which, Richie and Gags, can we get a goal tonight? Do we need a miracle here for you guys to get on the score sheet?

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2010 in Playoffs

 

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Home Sweet Home

People can argue home-ice is not a factor in the playoffs all they want; in the Finals, it definitely is. The Flyers failed to get a split in the first two games after dropping two one-goal decisions in a row. Tonight they look to avoid that terrible 3-0 hole and change the landscape of the series. Mike Richards needs to do something at the Wachovia Center tonight, whether it is a big hit or goal. He is the kind of guy that feeds off the crowd, and if he can do something big like he did in Game 5 of the Montreal series, this team will get behind him. I really liked Bartulis’ play the other night. The rookie defenseman did not make any huge mistakes that I can recall, and he actually did a good job of eating up some minutes to give our top four a rest. Braydon Coburn played a hell of a game as well, and if he can continue that style of play our top two pairings will continue to be lights-out. Scott Hartnell deserves a mention too because he was a forechecking machine and in that 3rd period burst he simply would not give up and kept getting the puck to his teammates with his strong board play.

The first two games of the series are over, and the Hawks are flying high right now. They’re a young team and could possibly be getting a little too confident. They have not played in Philadelphia yet. I don’t care how loud they say San Jose is, this team hasn’t played a home Final game in 13 years. The fans are ready, the team will be ready, and the Hawks are going to see what a loud building is. I know they’re 7-1 on the road, but that’s the previous three series. This series is the one I’m worried about, and if the Flyers lose tonight, I will be very worried.

No word yet on whether JVR will still be a healthy scratch in lieu of Carbomb. I think Carbomb especially is the kind of guy that will help you at home with some energy and big hits to get the crowd into it. He’s slowly becoming a fan favorite, and I think his efforts will get his team and the crowd up. His strong play along the boards rivals that of JVR who definitely has more potential and talent, but I don’t think he’s ready for this type of game just yet.

Tonight’s game will either swing the momentum in the Flyers favor, or give Chicago every reason to close this thing out. I firmly believe the Flyers will come out fired up and get behind their crowd to victory. This team has come too far to lose three straight to Chicago. Let’s see some production from the Richards line with Carter and Gagne even strength, that line could be the game-changer for us. They need to build on the good forecheck they established in the third period and carry that over into tonight’s game. Niemi won’t be able to stop shots forever.

 
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Posted by on June 2, 2010 in Playoffs

 

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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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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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