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5 Reasons to Miss Mike Richards

The shock is still wearing off on Philly fans after Thursday’s franchise-altering trades. While many fans were not surprised with the Carter trade to Columbus, captain Mike Richards was traded less than an hour later to the Los Angeles Kings. Being a big Richie fan and realizing that his t-shirt and jersey joins my Gagne one (and possibly my Carcillo shirt), it was a hard pill to swallow. Not to mention that I was receiving all this news on my phone because I was in the parking lot at the Susquehanna Bank Center (Tweeter/E-Center) hanging out with my fellow Parrotheads getting ready for a Jimmy Buffett concert. I was more shocked than anything, realizing that by trading BOTH Richards and Carter, the Flyers shipped their two first round picks from the 2003 draft that have been the makeup for the future of the franchise for years. However, as much as I liked Richards, I understand the move and we got a good return for the trade. LA gets a top-six center that can play anywhere and will love partying in their town (had to slip that in). We get a great prospect in Brayden Schenn, and some grit on our back end with Wayne Simmonds likely filling a 3rd line role this upcoming season.

Jeff Carter’s trade brought a good return too, with Voracek filling a much needed void at winger and getting the 8th overall pick to draft a good two-way center. Even with the result of the trade, I can’t help but feel a bit cheated. I was looking forward to seeing Richie captain a few Cups during his time here. I had visions of a grizzled Mike Richards in his early to mid-30s with salt and pepper in his playoff beard laying hits and scoring shorthanded goals to win a Stanley Cup. It sucks, but things happen when you get swept in the playoffs after expectations are high. While there are plenty of reasons to miss Mike Richards when hockey rolls around next fall, with the help of my memory and Youtube, here are my top five.
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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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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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Flyers Start Back-to-Backs in Columbus Tonight

Flyers travel to Columbus to meet up with former Flyer R.J. Umberger and his Columbus Blue Jackets tonight before heading to Buffalo tomorrow. These back-to-back games should be a good for our team who is coming off of a solid win after a long layoff between games last week. The 5-2 win with the Leafs visiting on Saturday was a dominating performance with the Flyers controlling both ends of the ice pretty much the whole game. Being in the crowd, the seats weren’t as packed as usual with the Phillies playing down the street, but it was still a good turnout nonetheless and the Flyers showed some improvement in playing a full 60 minutes.

Mike Richards had been criticized for much of the early goings of the season, but he managed to show up on Saturday and take the game’s first goal, along with a pair of assists and a great game overall. He wasn’t the only one who scored, Ville Leino got a nice little dirty goal down low and Betts, Hartnell, and Briere all contributed as well to the scoresheet. Boosh got the start and he made some nice saves and kept the Flyers in it, stopping 12 of 14 shots he faced. Flyers also killed all of their penalties and finally got a powerplay goal. Their puck movement on the man advantage definitely looked improved, but let’s see what they can do tonight and tomorrow. One game does not rectify all of your previous shortcomings. Consistency is they key in this league.

Part of the reason for the Flyers’ success on Saturday night to me is definitely the line shake-ups. With the exception of our checking line and the Leino-Briere-Hartnell line, our lines were not producing like we thought. Richards skated with Powe and Giroux while Carter skated with JVR and Zherdev. These lines did not take over the game, but still looked better than before. Carcillo took his place back in the line-up and was effective on the 4th line with Betts and Shelley. Especially when he dropped the gloves with Brown in the first period to get the crowd and his team pumped up. We’ll see what happens tonight, but I expect the same line-up and Boosh should get the start again. The Flyers are going to have to contain Umberger and Nash, arguably their two best forwards on both ends of the ice.

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2010 in Flyers Talk and Other

 

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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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