Archive for March, 2009

Alex Ovechkin’s 50th Goal Celebration

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on March 27, 2009 by flyersfan44

The Capitals’ Alexander Ovechkin scored his 50th goal of the season recently and this feat led to a unique celebration that has created some controversy.  Some observers feel that the celebration was excessive and not warranted for someone scoring his 50th goal of a season, since a good number of players have hit the 50 mark in a seson over the years.  Here is a video of the goal and celebration:

I don’t have a problem with this celebration.  Ovechkin is the first player to hit 50 this season and he has an exhuberance for playing the game that is enjoyable to watch. The NHL could use some players who are entertainers who bring some fun to the games.  I enjoy watching Ovechkin much more than his rival Sidney Crosby, who usually looks miserable during games and just doesn’t seem as if he’s enjoying himself.  Ovechkin, on the other hand, looks like he really enjoys playing and seems as though he’s having fun.  Don’t lose that zest for the game!

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Devils Exorcised

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on March 25, 2009 by flyersfan44

Don’t look now, but the Flyers are looking like they’re putting it together at just the right time.  First, a solid 3-1 victory over the Penguins and then another great defensive effort with a 4-2 win over the Devils.  Tight checking, backchecking, and solid coverage in front have the Flyers looking like they’re firing up for the playoffs.  The power play has returned, scoring three goals last night, Daniel Briere appears to be finding his game after most of the season on the injured list, and rookie Claude Giroux looks more confident with each game and is blossoming into a nifty playmaker before our eyes.  He had an awesome behind the back pass to Simon Gagne behind the net which froze everyone before Gagne put it past Martin Brodeur.  Marty Biron is finding his game and is getting hot at the right time.  The Flyers’ current three game win streak began with coach John Stevens changing around the lines – looks like a wise move which spread out the scoring and has assembled three dangerous lines.  All of a sudden, things look promising.

Flyers Stifle Penguins, 3-1

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 23, 2009 by flyersfan44

In what was perhaps their best game of the season, the Flyers shut down the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-1 yesterday afternoon at the Mellon Arena.  Playing a near flawless defensive game, the Orange and Black held Cindy Crosby and Evgeni Malkin shotless and allowed only a power play goal that took a fortunate bounce off and over Marty Biron’s pad.  The Flyers played a superb defensive game, backchecked well, forced giveaways, and cut off passing lanes to frustrate the Penguins throughout the afternoon. 

As the game wore on, the Penguins showed effects of the Flyers’ tight checking, committing numerous cheap shots (many of which were missed or not called by the refs).  We can point to a Malkin high stick on Joffrey Lupul which wasn’t called (we can’t put Malkin in the box), a Sergei Gonchar punch to Lupul’s head after a whistle (also no call), and a Jordan Staal slash on Mike Richards after a clean (and light) check by the Flyers captain.  No call on that one, either.  Need more? OK, a high stick on Braydon Coburn that was probably accidental but was not called and a clear interference penalty in open ice that was ignored.  Most ridiculous was a trip on Dan Carcillo that was called but which also took Carcillo off for diving.  The trip was so flagrant that a diving call on that play was clearly to avoid awarding a power play to the Flyers.

Despite the refs best efforts to hand the game to the Pens, the Flyers maintained their game plan and executed it flawlessly, holding Pittsburgh to only seven shots in the third period.  The Penguins, meanwhile, displayed their immaturity before a national television audience, becoming chippier as the game wore on.  This game gives some hope for the playoffs as the Flyers stepped up with a playoff-type effort.  Marty Biron continued his exceptional play in goal; looks like he’s getting hot at the right time.  Let’s hope the Flyers can maintain this sort of effort tonight as they face the surging Devils.

Scotty Upshall Traded to Phoenix

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on March 12, 2009 by flyersfan44

Just back from Florida where I had to endure telecasts of Panthers games.  Their announcers (who include former Islander defenseman Denis Potvin) must be the biggest homers in the league.  According to them, the Panthers do no wrong, no penalties called against the “Cats” are really penalties, and there’s frequently subtle digs at the Flyers at any opportunity.  I hope they miss the playoffs since Florida shouldn’t have an NHL franchise anyway.  By the way, Denis, your goal in game six of the ’80 finals was knocked in with a high stick. 

Couldn’t comment on the deadline trades until now.  Supposedly the Flyers were set to make a big deal and even got an extension from the League past the 3:00 PM deadline, but the other team pulled out. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was the Panthers and the oft-rumored Jay Bouwmeester trade.  The only thing the Flyers did was trade winger Scotty Upshall and a second round pick to Phoenix for Daniel Carcillo.  This greatly upset many Flyers fans and I have to admit that I was surprised that we traded for a third enforcer to complement Aaron Asham and Riley Cote.  Let’s face it, though, Upshall was very fast and it will hurt to lose that speed but he was performing below expectations. He was a first round pick (ninth overall) of Nashville but had eight goals this season.  I pointed this out to my nephew at a game a couple months ago and was verbally attacked for not realizing his value as a player who stirs things up.  He definitely had alot of exuberance, but was too small to hit really hard and sometimes took ill-timed penalties.  He will be a UFA at the end of the season, made 1.2 million, and wasn’t scoring enough.  The Flyers did not want to re-sign him for 1.5 to 2 million this summer, so they traded him and got another enforcer.  Let’s see what Carcillo does.  If he plays with Briere and Giroux, he could gain them some room. It also gives the Flyers some options for next year in terms of enforcers.  Riley Cote doesn’t score and loses about half his fights, so if Carcillo lights the lamp some, plays smart yet aggressively, he could fill the enforcer role next season.  As popular as Upshall was here, his production and contract dictated that he be moved.  I’m not thrilled that they had to throw in a draft pick as well (the Rangers got Antropov for less than what we gave up for Carcillo), but this may not turn out to be a bad trade.  Sorry Brian.

Latest Rumors as the Deadline Approaches

Posted in Uncategorized on March 4, 2009 by flyersfan44

Bruins will get Pronger if he’s dealt… The Flyers are after Toronto’s Nik Antropov; maybe as part of a deal that brings Thomas Kaberle as well… If the Flyers are going to get Bouwmeester, it will take Lupul, Carle, and probably Van Riemsdyk. That would get him here if he’s dealt but don’t bet on it though – the Panthers are in the playoff picture now…Are we still looking for a goalie? If so, Van Riemsdyk straight up for Atlanta’s Kari Lehtonen is the latest…Hang on, Nikolai Khabibulin is in play and the Flyers have talked with Chicago…Biron to Phoenix for Derek Morris or Olli Jokinen, then Biron is dealt by Phoenix to either Buffalo or Detroit but they won’t do the first part with the Flyers unless the second deal is definite. That’s it for now – tomorrow should be fun.

NHL Trade Rumors

Posted in Uncategorized on March 2, 2009 by flyersfan44

OK, here we go.  The trade deadline is this week and, as usual, the rumor mill is churning out some interesting possibilities. 

Montreal is supposedly set to do something big. That makes sense since their performance has been below expectations this season.  The most often mentioned name going to the Canadiens is Vincent Lecavalier. The latest has him and Steve Eminger to the Habs for Mike Komisarek, Thomas Plekanec, and two first round choices.  Not sure I would do that for a 35 year-old. 

The Canadiens were also rumored to be getting Bill Guerin from the Islanders, although so is Buffalo, Washington, Pittsburgh, and the Flyers.  Latest word has the Flyers out of the running (too big of a cap hit).  Bet on Washington for Guerin.

You’re all interested in what the Flyers are going to do.  I believe they will make a significant deal.  They are not happy that the team still performs inconsistently, loses focus during games, and gives up too many shots.  Plus, the goaltending situation remains unsettled with no assurance that Biron or Niitymaki could carry the team to a Cup.  Here are some rumors circulating involving the Flyers:

* Randy Jones to Columbus, possibly for RJ Umberger.

* The Flyers need a big, banging defenseman.  Much talk has been centered around Florida’s Jay Bouwmeester and Anaheim’s Chris Pronger.  Supposedly a deal was close for Bouwmeester with the Flyers giving up prospect James Van Riemsdyk and Joffrey Lupul.  Something like this could still happen, but would take more salary being cleared. It lately appears that the Flyers are out of the running for Jay Bow as the Panthers believe they can get more from the Bruins.  Bet on Boston getting him for either Mark Stuart or Phil Kessel plus a prospect and a number one pick.  The other defenseman rumored to be moving is Anaheim’s Chris Pronger.  Some talk had him coming to the Flyers for Lupul, Matt Carle, and a first round pick.  Sorry to disappoint, but the latest I’ve heard is that the Flyers are out of the running for Pronger, too.  As for defensive help for the Flyers, watch Toronto.  Thomas Kaberle for Joffrey Lupul and one or two draft picks (one of which will be first round) is a possibility. 

* As for goaltending, the Flyers have some interest in Vesa Toskala of Toronto. Some talk had him along with Dominic Moore being added to the Kaberle deal with the Flyers parting with Van Riemsdyk.  Another source had Marty Biron and Lupul going to Atlanta for Kari Lehtonen, although the latest is that this has fallen through.  I have a feeling that if the Flyers do something really major, then watch Minnesota.  Goalie Niklas Backstrom will be a UFA after this season and the Wild are looking to move him.  Marian Gaborik is also available.  Keep your eyes and ears on the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Flyers Trade Possibilities, the Salary C(r)ap, and Where the Hell is Giroux Now?

Posted in Uncategorized on March 1, 2009 by flyersfan44

The Flyers front office has had difficulty managing the Salary Cap this season, as they have been right up against the limit and have had to juggle players in and out of the line up.  Now they have lost two effective players because Danny Briere’s return from injury created the need to clear cap space.  Glen Metropolit and Ossi Vaananen were waived with the hope of clearing waivers and then being sent to the Phantoms for insurance against injury.  Surprise – both were claimed (Metropolit by Montreal and Vaananen by Vancouver).  Now the Flyers have lost an effective checking center who was good on faceoffs and a solid defenseman who was fairly physical.  To get Briere into the lineup today, the Flyers had to send Claude Giroux to the Phantoms.  Giroux was just now starting to blossom and had played really well the last ten games or so.  Now he goes back to the AHL. Management won’t admit it was because of the cap, but I can see no other reason to send him down now. 

First, I would have waived Andrew Alberts before Vaananen.  He does not play as physical as his size says he should and makes poor plays with the puck at times.  A turnover by him led to a Montreal goal on Friday and he was undressed on another play with the puck slipped through his legs as he remained stationary; a good scoring opportunity resulted.  Second, players like Giroux, Jared Ross, and Jon Kalinski have been up and down between the Flyers and Phantoms so often that it has been difficult to maintain any continuity in the lineup.  Some of this has been the result of injuries, but we’re in March now and the lineup still isn’t set.  Briere comes back and a good, blossoming player with scoring capability and vision can’t play because of cap issues. 

The Flyers were shut out and thoroughly dominated by the Devils today, 3-0.  The trade deadline is this week.  Management better sit down, see what’s available, and crunch numbers so that the roster after the trading is firmly set.  A big, banging defenseman would be good along with another scorer – thought the offense was ok but latley it’s causing concern.  Then again, anyone worth acquiring probably won’t fit under the cap unless salary is unloaded via trade.  The next few days should bring alot of discussion about what we want to look like going into the playoffs and can we do it with salary cap restrictions.  The Flyers don’t look good for the playoffs as things stand now.