Archive for October, 2008

Finally, a win!

Posted in Uncategorized on October 25, 2008 by flyersfan44

It took a while but the Flyers finally got a win under their belts and they did it in the most unlikely of circumstances, defeating the Devils 6-3 in New Jersey, where they hadn’t won in what seems like forever.  Mike Richards continued his fine play and leadership with four assists.  After a shaky first period after which they trailed 3-2, the Flyers shut out the Devils the rest of the way, holding the opponent to under 30 shots for the game.  Better coverage in front of their net, which was almost non-existant in the 7-6 loss to the Sharks, and the forwards coming back deeper in the defensive zone was the recipe for victory.  If they can keep up the defensive work and the offense continues to get goals, they may work themselves out of the season-starting funk. 

On the negative side, injuries continued as Danny Briere will undergo surgery today for a torn abdominal muscle, sidelining him for about a month.  It may be that the Flyers can only hope to remain close in the standings for the first few months of the season until Briere, Jones, Parent, and maybe Hatcher return to the lineup at mid-season and the new faces have time to gel.  If they can stay close, perhaps they can take off at mid-season through the home stretch. They will have to be committed to playing team defense consistently to do so.

Hungry for More? Hungry for a Win

Posted in Uncategorized on October 17, 2008 by flyersfan44
Goalie Marty Biron after surrendering one of five goals against Colorado.

Goalie Marty Biron after surrendering one of five goals against Colorado.

The Flyers’ slogan this year is “Hungry for More”, an allusion to the great playoff run they had last year and indicating hopefulness that they would pick up this season where they left off last spring.  After four games, however, “Hungry for a Win” may be more appropriate.  Thursday’s 5-2 loss to Colorado further illustrated their difficulties so far this season. They were completely absent in the first period, throughout the game they continued to lose the little battles that it takes to win – along the boards, races to the puck, etc., and the power play remained anemic (3 for 26) in a game that was overofficiated. 

It appears that the Flyers would prefer to skip the regular season and go right to the playoffs.  Coach John Stevens will have to light a fire under tham soon or they may end up missing the post season altogether.  He met with the captains today and will be meeting with individual players before Saturday’s game in San Jose against the unbeaten Sharks.

I think it’s time to end the Danny Briere on right wing experiment.  The Richards-Gagne-Briere line has definitely been the Flyers’ best, creating opportunities and scoring goals, but there’s no offense coming from anywhere else.  Put Briere back at center, bump Jeff Carter to the third line and now there’s the balance that fueled their playoff run. The lines should look something like this:

Gagne-Richards-Knuble

Lupul-Briere-Hartnell

Upshall-Carter-Downie

Cote-Metropolit-Asham

Let’s see if Stevens can right things quickly.  If not, he may end up like Chicago’s Denis Savard who was just fired after four games.

Uh-Oh, 2 and 1

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on October 15, 2008 by flyersfan44

The season has not gotten off to a very good start for the Flyers as they are 0-2-1 in their first three games.  The main concern seems to be that they have not put together a full sixty minutes of solid effort.  In the opener against the Rangers (who, incidentally, are 5-0; how did that happen?), the Flyers were nowhere to be found in the first period and surrendered four goals.  They played well in the second and third, but came up one short of the tying goal.  Against the Canadiens, they played well in the first and second and carried a 2-1 lead into the third period, then allowed four goals in a 5-3 loss.  Playing the Penguins last night, the Flyers had difficulty converting chances, but played pretty well defensively and took the game to overtime, where they lost with ten seconds remaining. 

Defense looks like it could present some trouble.  With regulars Ryan Parent and Randy Jones on the injured list for several months, new acquisitions Ossi Vaananen, Steve Eminger, and 18 year-old Luca Sbisa will need to play very well.  Sbisa is a surprise and the Flyers may need to keep him on the roster for the season with the injury situation.  After nine games, he can go back to juniors; if he plays ten games, he must stay with the Flyers for the season.  I think he has played very well in all three games, showing poise under pressure, playing the power play, and moving the puck well.  Lasse Kukkonen, beaten more than a couple times in the opening games, may have lost his regular spot as the Flyers acquired Andrew Alberts from Boston.  Alberts (6’5; 220) replaced Kukkonen in the lineup against Pittsburgh.  I’m not sure he’s going to be much better as he took a couple of hooking penalties, perhaps a sign that he’s getting beaten on plays.

With so many new faces on defense (and some up front, too) they may just need some time to gel, so I am not pushing the panic button yet.  However, they will need to get in the win column soon, as the Rangers are already nine points ahead (although they have played two more games) and we know how fragile this team’s confidence can be.  We don’t need a long losing streak to start the season.

Sarah Palin to Drop Puck Opening Night

Posted in Uncategorized on October 10, 2008 by flyersfan44

I am going to try very hard not to get political here since that’s not within the scope of this blog, however, I cannot help but criticize the decision to have Vice-Presidential nominee Sarah Palin drop the ceremonial first puck in Saturday’s home opener against the Rangers.  Although Comcast Chairman Ed Snider says she was invited because of her self-proclaimed “Hockey Mom” status and the attraction that that has garnered for hockey, it seems to be at least an implicit endorsement of her candidacy.  That’s probably not a good idea, because I can see the polarization of opinion (tilting latley toward the Democratic nominee) undoubtedly allowing for a chorus of boos to rain down upon the unsuspecting Alaska governor.  As we all know, (and take pride in) Philadelphia fans can be vicious in voicing their displeasure.  A wink and a “you betcha” won’t make it in South Philly.  Besides, I’m not so sure that she’s a real hockey fan either.  It’s one thing to holler after you’re little kid skating around his or her bantam-level rink and quite another to follow the NHL and root for your NHL team. 

 When Palin was in Philadelphia recently, she was met by a couple in her hotel elevator as she was preparing to go out for a jog.  As her time in the spotlight as a candidate has gradually exposed, she’s not quite the brightest or most self-aware individual, and as a result, she was wearing a New York Rangers jersey. Now, even the most basic hockey fan would know that any person interested in maintaining a modicum of safety in Philadelphia would NEVER appear on the streets wearing such an offensive item.  Fortunately for the governor, the couple (who were undoubtedly Republicans) were able to provide her with an Eagles jersey to wear for her jog, thus saving her from at least embarassment if not from some highly offensive verbal invectives.  She may not, however, be so fortunate as to escape a barrage of boos and taunts this Saturday.

Camp’s Over; Opening Roster Set

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 9, 2008 by flyersfan44

Training Camp has ended and opening night is only two days away.  The opening of a new hockey season is always full of anticipation – how will we do this year; is this the year we finally win it all? 

Some of the questions going into this year’s camp have been answered (at least for the time being): Claude Giroux did not have a great camp and as a result was sent to the Phantoms.  Perhaps he’ll be called up and get another opportunity to stick with the parent club. 

New defensemen Steve Eminger and Ossi Vaananen performed well in the pre-season and look like promising additions to the defense, with speed and size.   An unexpected development was that 18 year-old first round draft pick defenseman Luca Sbisa had a great camp and has made the team for now.  The Flyers can keep him for nine games before returning him to juniors or keeping him on their roster for the season.  He cannot be sent to the Phantoms.  A longer look in some regular season games should provide more insight, but it looks like the pick acquired in the RJ Umberger trade could lessen the impact of losing his scoring. 

Of course, it wouldn’t be Flyers hockey without injuries, and we have two significant ones already: Defenseman Ryan Parent will be out for three months with a shoulder injury and defenseman Randy Jones will miss time due to upcoming hip surgery.  So, before the season starts, the Flyers lose a top-four defenseman and an up-and-coming young defenseman who would have been in the top six.  They may actually need Sbisa to continue his strong showing. 

Going into the first game, the active roster looks like this:

Goal: Marty Biron, Antero Nittymaki, Jean-Sebastien Aubin

Defense: Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Steve Eminger, Ossi Vaananen, Lasse Kukkonen, Luca Sbisa

Forward Lines: Danny Briere, Mike Richards, Simon Gagne, Jeff Carter, Scott Hartnell, Mike Knuble, Joffrey Lupul, Glen Metropolit, Scotty Upshall, Aaron Asham, Riley Cote, Steve Downie

So, there it is.  Let’s drop the puck and let’s go Flyers!