Archive for May, 2009

Cup Finals Prediction: Detroit in Seven

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on May 29, 2009 by flyersfan44

A rematch of last year’s Cup Finals has the Red Wings and Penguins again.  Needless to say, I’m rooting for Detroit. As a Flyers fan, I hate the Penguins – the Most Unsportsmanlike Team in the League. Not all that crazy about the Red Wings’ European Ice Show either, but I have alot more respect for them. 

I was seven for eight in my first round picks, two for four in the second, and two for two in the third.  That’s 11 of 14 in this year’s playoff rounds.  Not too bad.  This year’s finals should be a good, competitive series.  The Penguins have Crosby and Malkin in high gear, Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury playing well, good complimentary players like Jordan Staal, Max Talbot, and Chris Kunitz, and veterans like Bill Guerin.   The Red Wings are simply a powerhouse.  The only thing that concerns me about them is that they are experiencing some injuries to key players.  Nevertheless, they are strong enough and deep enough to overcome some injuries, and I like Coach Mike Babcock’s experience over Dan Bylsma.  I think it’ll be closer than last year, but I don’t see enough reasons to pick against the Cup Champs…Red Wings in seven.

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Free Agent Possibilities

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

As the Flyers consider moves they can make over the summer to improve the team, potential free agent signings are always considered.  Let’s take a look at some possibilities:

Goaltender:  The big question is whether the Flyers will re-sign Marty Biron, who is an unrestricted free agent.  Many believe that he is not the goalie that can take the team to the Stanley Cup and the Flyers should look to free agency for one that can.  However, consider that teams that have won the Cup lately with stellar goaltending often have had a goalie that they drafted and developed.  Great goalies are not often available in the free agency market.  What goalies better than Biron are available as free agents?  Possibly Jean-Sebastien Giguere of Anaheim and Nikolai Khabibulin of Chicago.  Giguere won the Cup with the Ducks a couple years ago, but he lost his starting job in this year’s playoffs and is 32 years old.  Do the Flyers take a chance that he can regain form and pull a repeat of his magic year with the Ducks?  Khabibulin is even older at 38.  Former Ottawa goalie Ray Emery was mentioned recently as someone the Flyers would be interested in. I hope this is not the case.  He was a difficult person to deal with for the front office, coaching staff, and teammates in Ottawa, has had a substance use issue, and was released by the Senators. He played in Russia this past season where he punched a trainer.  Hopefully the Flyers are using the story that they’re interested in him as leverage to get a favorable deal done with Biron.  Marty is a solid goalie who has performed well in the playoffs the last two years. He stepped up his game in the post-season,and I think that considering what else is available, it makes the most sense to re-sign him for a couple years while they try to develop recently drafted Swedish goalie Jonas Backlund.  In fact, it’s quite possible that Antero Nittymaki will not be re-signed and Backlund will be the back-up to whoever ends up as the number-one guy.

Defenseman: It was widely speculated that the Flyers came close to trading for Florida’s Jay Bouwmeester at the deadline. The Flyers are very interested in him – he’s big (6’4, 212) and has offensive capability (15 goals, 27 assists last year).  He’s also only 25 years of age, but his current salary of $4,800,000 would necessitate the dumping of salary to fit his new deal under the cap.  Flyers beat writer Sam Carchidi likes Montreal’s Mike Komisarek. He’s also big (6’4, 243) and playes physically. The Flyers really need a big, hitting defenseman. Komisarek’s salary last season was $1,900,000. Although he doesn’t score much, he may be a better value than Bouwmeester.  Or, how about this: The latest rumor has the Flyers trading forward Danny Briere to Montreal for Komisarek (assuming they could sign him).  Unloading Briere’s huge salary, which in my opinion is costing them more than what they get in return, opens the door for Boumeester signing here as well.  Finally, thinking about value, look at New Jersey’s Johnny Oduya. Decent size (6’0, 200), 29 points, and a +21 all for $600,000 per season last year. 

Forward: The Flyers are pretty strong at Forward, but do need a good face-off man.  I’d love to see Glen Metropolit, who they lost on waivers during the season, back here for next year (part of the Briere deal?).  Beyond that, the Red Wings have both Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterberg to re-sign. Both produced well for reasonable salary and I’d love to see one of them here, but can’t imaging that Detroit won’t re-sign both of them.  Nik Antropov of the Rangers is another free agent whom they Flyers have expressed interest in before.  I like his size (6’6, 230) and he had decent production last year on a poor Toronto team for most of the season (59 points).

It should be another interesting free agency season. Hopefully, the Flyers will be able to use free agent signings and trades to upgrade themselves. They must look to compete with a strong Penguins team that will be good for years.  In an upcoming post, I’ll put out a roster for next year that I’d like to see.

Conference Finals Predictions

Posted in Uncategorized on May 16, 2009 by flyersfan44

I was only two for four in the last round, as the Blackhawks and Hurricanes continued to surprise me.  So I’m nine for twelve overall this postseason.  Here’s my calls for the Conference Finals:

Pittsburgh vs. Carolina:  The Hurricanes surprised me by beating the number one seeded Bruins. Are they that good or just having a great run?  With Cam Ward in goal, anything can happen and they are playing well.  I still love Rod Brind’Amour and am rooting for the ‘Canes to defeat the Most Unsportsmanlike Team in the League.  But those arctic birds find ways to win even when they look like they’re cooked.  Gonchar’s knee injury could present problems, but I think Pittsburgh will end Carolina’s playoff run in six games.

Detroit vs. Chicago:  A great matchup of Original Six teams.  Chicago is another surprise and they’re looking really good. With Khabibulin in goal they could steal the series if he is hot.  The Hawks defense is a little suspect, though, and I’m not going to pick against the defending champs.  The Red Wings are a powerhouse and should prevail in seven games.

How the Flyers Can Improve

Posted in Uncategorized on May 15, 2009 by flyersfan44

I’m nearly over my anger at how the Flyers self-destructed at the end of the season and in the first round of the playoffs, so I can now make some comments on how the team can improve itself in the off-season.  Here’s what I believe the Flyers need to improve:

(1) Discipline – This team is young and often lacked discipline on the ice during the season. They had a proclivity of taking poor penalties, would stay out too long on shifts, and had poor line changes resulting in too many men penalties.  They would easily lose focus and get off their game and frequently appeared unprepared at the beginning of games.  This is coaching! I like John Stevens and think he should be given another year, but he will have to instill greater discipline in this team.  He is not a very excitable personality – this can be good and bad.  He has a calming approach but sometimes passion is necessary to motivate.

(2) Defense – The Flyers allowed way too many shots this season in too many games.  They need to cut these down significantly. A big defenseman who will clear the front to the extent that the new rules will allow is a necessity.  Secondly, another good puck moving defenseman would help because their other big problem was inability to get the puck out of the zone too often.  Luca Sbisa should play the entire season next year and this will help, but an experienced puck mover would be best.  Finally, let’s get some right-handed shots on defense, please! When the puck comes around the boards to the point, a left shot on the right side loses too much time and has difficulty bringing the puck from his backhand to his forehand. Same thing with clearing it out of the zone from that side.

(3) Face-Offs –  The Flyers do not have a really outstanding face-off man and lost way too many draws this season.  This is a critical part of the game that needs to be addressed. 

(4) Better Salary Cap Management – It was a circus this year as the Flyers were right up against the salary cap.  When injured players were ready to return, others (like sensation Claude Giroux) had to be sent to the minors to make room.  In February, popular players Glen Metropolit (a good face-off man) and defenseman Ossi Vaananen were waived for salary cap reasons.  This led to demoralization in the dressing room and coincided with the late season nose-dive.  Things really got ridiculous near the very end of the season when in two separate games the Flyers signed two defenseman with college level experience to one-game tryout contracts and dressed and played them! No wonder the rest of the team put out a crappy effort in tose few games that closed the season.  GM Paul Holmgren must do a better job of managing the cap next year.

That’s it.  Let’s hear your thoughts.  An upcoming post will take a look at free agent and trade possibilities.