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Tag Archives: flyers
August has to be the slowest month in hockey world. Everyone (myself included) is currently gearing up for football to start and baseball division races are heating up. So I thought I’d do a piece on a broader topic to have something to talk about. The Flyers will not have anything else for us to dissect until training camp starts or they make another roster move, so what I say now will rarely differ from what I’ve already said. I’d like to talk about an awesome trend I have noticed recently… Philly sports dominance.
I am not talking about dominance in the means on championships, but three of the major professional sports teams in Philadelphia are slated as making it far in the playoffs, and possibly as contenders. And oh yeah, free agents are FLOCKING here. If one or two of these teams can manage to win a championship, there may be a ‘Golden Age of Philly Sports’ on the horizon. Let’s look at the most obvious bright spot of our Philly sports teams.
Of course for the Flyers I’ve talked so much about. While they may not have made as big of a splash in the sports world with their moves, they still are a playoff contender and one of the top teams in their conference going into this season. They signed their number one goalie in Ilya Bryzgalov while picking up some promising prospects in Schenn, Coutourier, Voracek, and Simmonds. They also landed Jaromir Jagr whom was looking to come to a team with a chance of winning the Stanley Cup. The Flyers have a long, rich history full of unforgettable players and characters that have built the foundation that this team plays on today. Philadelphia has always been regarded as a top-tier hockey town and we’ve had our fair share of talent through our doors… but we finally have a number one goalie that wanted to play here, among so many other things that make our team great. But what about our two other hyped teams at the moment?
The Phillies are defending NL East Champs year after year, and have been dominant in the NL for a few years now. Two years removed from their last World Series and they are looking to return this season. Backed up by a deadly pitching rotation with the likes of Halladay, Lee, and Hamels; the Phillies can do some serious damage in the playoffs. Their infield is sound defensively and features superb hitting all-around. The outfield is anchored by Shane Victorino and newcomer Hunter Pence. Mayberry has been great recently in relief as well, and our starting pitchers have been doing a good enough job to set Madson and the rest of the bullpen up to finish games.
After years of mediocrity in the late 90s to early 2000s, the Phillies are a premier MLB franchise. Last season they went out and signed Cliff Lee after originally trading him to bolster their line-up. And this is after a season of acquiring Halladay and Oswalt to compliment Hamels, our original ace. Guys want to play here. They love playing for Charlie Manuel at a sold-out ballpark every night. Nothing exemplifies how new Phillies feel than the story of Hunter Pence. The Phillies swooped in near the trade deadline and picked up one of the most valuable assets on the market. Besides providing a beastly right hand bat so teams will stop pitching around Howard, Pence’s energy and swagger seemingly revitalized the Phillies team and helped them to finish 9-1 on their road trip when he joined the team. And he loves Philadelphia.
The Phillies are favorites in the NL to get to the World Series, and their recent handling of the Giants has led many to believe that barring any injuries, this club should meet expectations with their league-best record of 78-41.
The Eagles have been the talk of the down for the past decade during the Andy Reid Era. While only making it to the big dance once, they have played in five NFC championship games and are perennial playoff contenders. This past off-season, the Eagles were the biggest players and signed pretty much half of their current roster through free agency. Michael Vick did something special last season, and he’s attracted many players here to help him win a Super Bowl. The Kolb trade started things off to receive a second-round pick and dynamic corner Rodgers-Cromartie. Many speculated that trade officially ended the Eagles entrance in the Asomugha sweepstakes that had teams such as the Cowboys and Jets knocking on his door. Not to be outdone, the Eagles signed the most prized free agent this off-season along with Cullen Jenkins and Jason Babin to solidify our defense. They also addressed their defensive line and offensive line depth with some key signings, and even inked Ronnie Brown and Vince Young to add to our already-potent offense. And then Steve Smith (NYG) was signed. Talk about a plethora of new players.
Like the Phillies, the Eagles attracted many free agents to their team and signed them. Both of these teams are good examples of going out and getting what you want (at least this season). The Phillies and Eagles have put themselves in good position to win championships this year. Whether that was the leading cause or the excitement of playing with Michael Vick sparked interest; guys want to play here. The Yankees and Patriots are not the only team attracting top-level talent anymore… but being the paper champions doesn’t grant you a Super Bowl ring. Let’s see if they can pull it together this season.
Let me put it this way. I’m going to list some names and you tell me if you ever thought them as an eventual Philadelphia athlete.
Pedro Martinez. Cliff Lee. Roy Halladay. Roy Oswalt. Hunter Pence.
Michael Vick. Vince Young. Nnamdi Asomugha. Ronnie Brown.
Chris Pronger. Ilya Bryzgalov. Jaromir Jagr.
For once, we’re making moves on big names through trades and free agency on some of our biggest teams. The Phillies went out and got their pitcher and hitter (Lee and Pence). The Eagles got their cornerback they needed (Asomugha and DRC). The Flyers went after their top defenseman and goalie (Pronger and Bryzgalov). Sometimes I think we are not appreciative even though we want to win. I just hope some of us aren’t letting this pass us by. Watching these Phillies every night is special, and we may never see a team like this again. The Eagles are putting themselves in a position to be better than they were in 2004. The Flyers have just shored up their offensive prospects with two great additions, and finally added a great goaltender to compliment their stingy defense and scoring forwards. There are few other cities who can compare with the competitive level Philadelphia sports teams have right now. Boston and New York come to mind, but Philadelphia is quickly pushing away from their stereotype as being a second-rate or “wannabe” city. If there ever was a time for a Golden Age of Philly Sports to start, why not now?
Sunday’s outcome was a tough pill to swallow. I feel that the Penguins stole that game in those last few minutes after a very unlucky bounce of the puck out of play by Timmonen. The Flyers played a great game, and I’m still bitter about some of those calls (the one disallowing that 2nd goal especially, as well as the Hartnell interference call). There’s nothing they can do about it now, except get ready for Atlanta on Thursday.
Flyers OnTheFly has reported that they will be off today after having a special teams-oriented practice yesterday. Another encouraging tidbit from the Flyers is that defenseman underwent successful surgery to remove a disc fragment in his lumbar spine. From a health standpoint, this is great news because anything to do with the spine is obviously serious business. He is slated to return anywhere after the next 6 weeks, and us Flyers fans wish him a speedy recovery. OKT has not necessarily been terrible, but he still has not has not played as well as he did before he re-injured his knee. He had some decent games back in October and November. Hopefully he gets back on track. I still like the way Bartulis has been playing, and I’d like to see his continued play with Timmonen. He could learn a lot from Kimmo.
The internet buzz this past weekend has still been on the whole Carcillo and Gaborik fight that happened last Thursday. My opinion is no different than that of other reasonable opinions; Gaborik dropped his gloves, and thus loses all “honorable protection” or however Tortorella wants to put a spin on it. Carcillo picked him off of the pile up, and did not punch him. They jawed a bit, exchanged some shoves, then when the gloves come off, Carcillo sees an oppurtunity to take their leading scorer off the ice for 5 minutes and get a few shots in. Would they be saying the same thing if Avery went after Richards or Carter? It’s not even like Carcillo is a big guy either. He is a lightweight, maybe even a small middleweight by hockey fighter standards. I feel like every Rangers-Flyers broadcast I see, Torts is blowing his cap off about something or another. Avery went after Richards in the last 7 seconds of an already decided game. Was Lavvy attacking Avery in the media? No. It’s even funnier that all the Rangers who were asked about the Gaborik incident had something bad to say about Carcillo too. Of course they’re going to side with their player, but maybe Gaborik should think before he acts last time. That’s all I’m going to say about it. The topic is almost a week old and is tired already.
I’m still really excited about Giroux centering JVR and Asham. I feel like Asham is an under-appreciated part of the Flyers team. Powe and Betts are starting to get some more recognition due to their defensive play and great fore-checking along with the Flyers record with and without them in the line-up. Asham, however, seems to have a bag of tricks he pulls out at certain times. Small as that bag is, he has impressed me the past season and a half in Flyers orange, and it’s not often that happens coming from someone who played for a rival (Devils) a season earlier. I like Asham’s strong play along the boards and how he uses his body to protect the puck, allowing JVR to use his long reach and big body to help him dig pucks and get them to the points to set up in the zone. There’s not enough things to say about Giroux and how calm and confident he is with the puck. Not many young players like that can maneuver like he can, and all eyes are on him when he gets steam going through the offensive zone. If they can continue to get scoring chances like that, not many 3rd lines on other teams will be able to fully match-up with us. And then they know what comes with our tenacious 4th line.
Until Thursday, Go Flyers.
Well I’m back to school and I know updates have been very sparse, but I hope to continue to update as frequently and as much as I can. The Flyers have a huge weekend ahead of them as they play three Conference opponents with two of them being division rivals who are higher in the standings. Here’s some thoughts on what has been going on in Flyer country recently and such:
More recently, Laviolette has changed his lines up and personally I love the idea of Giroux playing with Asham and JVR. Last year, Asham and Giroux were playing on a line great together when they paired with Powe and Briere at times. I think JVR fits in well with them as he used his quickness and his size to fight for pucks. Giroux’s behind the back pass last night? RIDICULOUS. Powe seems to have found some room with the Richie and Gagne line, and I can’t help but like that call as well. It brings an active young guy in to break up the passing lanes and leave room for Gagne to get more confidence back… which brings me to the next point of my ramble…
Mike Richards has seemed to have stopped shooting the puck. He’s always been a young leader loved for his veteran-type play at times, one of those qualities sometimes being his patience with the puck. I’m all up for being patient, but when he’s on the rush he waits too long to make a decision and he gets snuffed or his pass gets knocked down. He needs to shoot if no ones open. Good things will happen, especially when guys like Powe are crashing the net and Gags is usually coming in late to snipe a rebound or something. I just get frustrated when he brings the puck in on a scoring opportunity and doesn’t get anything off of it. He was doing much better when he shot the puck. I love that Jeff Carter shoots the puck. I thought it was awesome that his line mates kept feeding him when he was in his hunt for the hat trick last night. Anyways, I digress.
Tomorrow the night the Rangers will be in town to continue their 6-game home stand. In comes a division rival that has the Flyer four points behind them with two games in hand and they need to make up for lost time and move up in the standings. Then on Saturday and Sunday, matinee games against the Hurricanes and Penguins, in that order (Penguins game being on NBC). The Flyers have been playing much better hockey since starting to come out of their slump going into the new year, and they need to continue it.
The last time they met the Rangers, Gagne had a hat trick in leading them to a 6-0 shutout victory at Madison Square Garden. They need to do what they did early in that game by attacking early, pressing the forecheck, and making Henrik Lundqvist work for every save. They can’t let a great goalie like that take over the game, and they need to contain players like Gaborik. Emery is back at his starting job, so he will take it tomorrow but I’d see Leighton possibly getting the start against his former team on Saturday and letting Emery handle the Penguins on Sunday. Updates this weekend.
The Flyers have finally started to put some wins together. During this stretch, Michael Leighton has been 6-0-1 when he is the starting goaltender and reportedly will be the #1 goaltender for at least another game while Emery goes to the Phantoms to get his game legs back. Leighton has exceeded even my expectations with a 2.28 GAA and has made some game-saving saves at times.
They started off by beating the Lightning, Hurricanes, and Islanders; who are not exactly the top teams the conference has to offer. However, the Flyers came into Madison Square Garden following these victories and took down a tough divisional opponent. This game was the catalyst for a Flyers turnaround and it became apparent that Laviolette’s system was starting to take form. Even the OT loss in Fenway was a solid game played by our boys. The Bruins are a top-tier team and they were playing in front of a very energized home crowd. They followed up that game with a disappointing showing against the Senators with Boucher in net before getting pulled.
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A lot has happened since the last time I posted. A few more losses, Christmas, and some busy days for myself so I apologize for not posting. However, the Flyers have won their last 3 games and look to do it again at Madison Square Garden tomorrow night. This Rangers team is beatable and the Flyers played a decent game against them last time but they failed to capitalize on their chances and were not exactly tight in their own zone. Hopefully they can solve Henrik early to take some pressure off of a possible start by Leighton who has even surprised me with his somewhat solid play as of late. Boucher should be able play tomorrow night, but that won’t be announced until tomorrow most likely. This is the last game before the Winter Classic, so let’s see if they can do something with this.
Furious, angry, helpless, pissed off, agitated.
That’s how I felt last night when I watched that game. I can’t even tell you what happened last night…
The good news?
We have another crack at them tomorrow and Flyers OnTheFly has reported that Blair Betts will return for that game. Gagne and Powe are set to come back within a game or two of Thursday.
Remember, the Flyers are 10-3 with Betts in the line-up, so maybe that’s something to look forward to. If they do not win on Thursday, I expect something drastic to happen. Those rumors of Pronger getting the ‘C’ or someone getting traded? Very likely if it comes to that point.