Archive for December, 2009

Three in a Row? Think Stanley Cup!

Posted in Uncategorized on December 29, 2009 by flyersfan44

Sorry…got a little carried away there but it’s been so long since the Flyers won a couple in a row. OK, wins against Carolina, Tampa, and the Islanders. Hey, we’ll take anything we can get at this point. Keeping it in perspective, the Flyers did play well in those games (don’t worry about coughing up a 3-0 lead mid-way through the third period in Carolina and then winning 4-3 in the shoot-out – the Flyers were just trying to keep it interesting). Getting back Powe, Gagne, and Betts recently has certainly helped. Goalie Michael Leighton, picked up off waivers from Carolina, has played well in the absence of Emery and Boucher. And maybe the Flyers are starting to grasp new coach Peter Laviolette’s system. It remains to be seen, however, whether or not the Flyers have turned a corner. Not to disparage the teams the Flyers beat but they’re not Pittsburgh, Washington, and San Jose. If the Flyers put together a ten game winning streak, then we can talk. Actually, they’ll need to put something like that together in order to have a chance at making the playoffs. I hate to ruin your New Year’s optimism, but the Flyers have 38 points in 38 games. With 44 games left and assuming that 98 points will be enough to get in the playoffs, the Flyers need 60 of a possible 88 points during the rest of the season.

Looks like Homer decided not to pull the trigger on a trade for now. A few wins bought some more time to see how things unfold.

Relentless? Relentlessly Awful

Posted in Uncategorized on December 19, 2009 by flyersfan44

The Flyers continued to play the exact opposite of this season’s tag line (“Relentless”) in an uninspiring 2-1 loss to the equally hapless New York Rangers at the Wachovia Center. In fact, the snowstorm outside was much more exciting to watch than the Flyers, who once again came out with no energy and fell behind early. Coach Peter Laviolette was understandably angry, calling time-out early and laying into the team on the bench. He was seething during the post-game press conference. Holmgren decided not to pull the trigger on a trade Friday and to give the team some more time to turn things around. Bad decision. Can’t make any deals until December 27 now. A player shake-up has to happen.

Latest Flyers Trade Rumors: 12/15/09

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on December 16, 2009 by flyersfan44

The disaster continued last night in Pittsburgh, where the Flyers were pasted by the Penguins, 6-1. At this point, the trade rumors are flying fast and furious. It fully looks as though a major deal will occur on Friday before the Christmas player movement freeze goes into effect Saturday until December 27, especially if the Flyers lose to the Penguins at home on Thursday.

The Flyers’ name that is most often mentioned is Jeff Carter. Check my previous post for why I think that trading him would be a great idea. I think management has also soured on Scott Hartnell. He is continuing to take penalties after coach Peter Laviolette has voiced concern about this. With a contract of about $4 million per year and a no-trade clause, he could be difficult to move. However, management could probably convince him to waive the clause if they really want to.

As for names mentioned as possible acquisitions, it’s well-known that Atlanta is shopping Ilya Kovalchuk, but I think a trade involving him may be more likely to happen nearer to the trade deadline. Vinny Lecavalier continues to be mentioned as a possibility, but I think and hope the Flyers would be more interested in younger players, especially if a Jeff Carter is involved.

Keep your eyes on Carolina and Los Angeles. Eric Staal is not having a great year for struggling Carolina, with four goals in 22 games. However, he scored 40 last year and is a big center, which the Flyers like, and is only 25 years old. Center Chad LaRose also has been mentioned. He had 19 goals and 31 points last year – decent production and plays better than his numbers indicate. I am sure that Laviolette would like to get some of his old players in here – they would be familiar with his system and could sell it to the Flyers’ players.

The Flyers really like Dustin Brown of Los Angeles, a 25-goal and 50-point left wing. Couple him with Alexander Frolov, who had 32 goals last year but whose production has fallen off some this year, and you could have a good deal there.

Management is ready to pull the trigger on a major trade. My money would be on Carolina and Eric Staal among others, but watch L.A. also.

The Only Thing Flying in Philly are Trade Rumors

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on December 13, 2009 by flyersfan44

Some cold, windy weather in the City of Brotherly Love last week and yeah, they were trade winds. There were 16 scouts at the Flyers – Ottawa game last Thursday. The Flyers are 1-4 under Laviolette and came out with no jump in a 4-1 loss at New Jersey on Saturday, spotting the Devils a 3-0 lead before the Flyers realized they were in a hockey game. Things are turning into a major disaster in a hurry. If the team doesn’t decide that they need to play for this coach, management will not continue to tolerate the same lackadaisical, little-effort play that this team is producing. The decision will be made that this is not the “right” group of players. It’s interesting that a team that on paper looks really talented cannot produce and play at a higher level. It underscores the fact that it’s more than talent that wins – you need players that are willing to work hard and put out a true, consistent effort. Keep your eye on the next three games at Boston and a home and home with Pittsburgh. Lose those three or maybe just two of the three and I believe a major trade will happen at that point.

Who’s ripe to go? The first player I would ship out is Jeff Carter. Great wrist shot and scoring ability, fast, and versatile. No heart, too lackadaisical, floats, poor defensively, doesn’t bear down around the net. Could have put away game 2 in Pittsburgh in last year’s playoffs but nonchalanted a chance in close and Fleury got over in time to save it. In my opinion, his approach and attitude is the single biggest reason that this team is the laid-back, overrated entity that we are seeing on the ice. Dump him and his big salary.

Secondly, Dan Carcillo. Undisciplined and short-fused, he takes bad penalties at inopportune times and can’t play that well, either. Asham can play and he’s the only fighter we need.

Can’t figure out what’s wrong with Braydon Coburn. He looked great two seasons ago but is playing horribly this season. Looked really bad on the first Devils’ goal Saturday. If we get a defenseman back in a trade, he could easily go.

Ryan Parent is not developing as hoped. Looked like an up and coming promising player two years ago but looks lost now. He could go as well.

If the Flyers decide that they need another goalie, either to take pressure off Boucher while Emery recovers from surgery or in the case that a number one netminder is needed if Emery doesn’t recover well or implodes emotionally, the Flyers are interested in Jaroslav Halak of Montreal and the Islanders’ Marty Biron.

Finally, Atlanta is shopping Ilya Kovalchuk. Hmmm…

Carcillo Gets Four Game Suspension; Reaction to Coaching Change Worrisome

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on December 6, 2009 by flyersfan44

Flyers’ winger Dan Carcillo has been suspended by the NHL for four games as the result of an altercation he had with Capitals’ enforcer Matt Bradley during Saturday’s 8-2 debacle. With the score tied at one, Bradley took a run at Carcillo along the boards and appeared to get his stick up. Carcillo, who has a fuse about as long as a candle wick, cross-checked Bradley and then decked him with one punch. Bradley was in the motion of dropping his gloves when Carcillo clocked him, leaving Bradley dazed. Carcillo was hit with a totally unreasonable nine minutes in penalties plus a game misconduct for being quicker to the punch while Bradley got nothing for the high stick or for droppping his gloves. Of course, the Caps blew the game open with three goals on the power play and never looked back.

Carcillo should have had the discipline to skate away after the hit rather than instigating the fight at that moment. He could have picked his spot later in the game. Acquiring players like Carcillo is part of the Flyers problem and part of the reason the players are upset with management. Popular Scotty Upshall was dealt for Carcillo, who really hasn’t shown that he can play. The game has changed – like it or not – and a player like Carcillo comes under the refs’ microscope very quickly. It’s not the 70s anymore and the Flyers’ management needs to recognize that. The team is carrying three fighters – Asham, Cote, and Carcillo. At least Asham can play and they’ve figured out that Cote can’t – he’s been a healthy scratch for most of the season despite injuries to several other forwards. It’s time to dump Carcillo.

The game against the Caps was a total debacle. Little effort, especially from the top guns. The team has not reacted well to the coaching change. This is worrisome. When the Penguins fired Michel Therrien last year, the team turned it around and won the Cup. The difference here – and this is critical – is that unlike the Penguins, the Flyers liked their coach and had not “turned him off” as the Penguins did with Therrien. If this team refuses to play for Laviolette, it will turn into a real mess. Trades will be the only option at that point. It’s still early and it’s only been one game, so let’s see if the team acts like professionals and decides to learn his system and play for him. Give it ten games and we should have an idea.

Players Stunned by News of Stevens’ Firing

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on December 5, 2009 by flyersfan44

According to reports, Flyers players were stunned when informed of John Stevens’ firing. I’m guessing that this is especially true of the younger players like Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, who were coached by Stevens while they were in the AHL with the Phantoms. I’m not sure why they were stunned – they had to realize that the unacceptable effort and lack of urgency with which they were playing wasn’t going to be tolerated for much longer. Losing six of seven, being shut out two games in a row (once by the defense-pitiful Thrashers), and currently being in the middle of the conference and out of the playoffs just begged for a coaching change to be made. More likely, the players are feeling like the party’s over. Time for the young players to get their minds away from the next party and refocus on the game. Laviolette, who has a reputation of being tough on players and not being too tolerant of mistakes and lack of effort, should get the players’ priorities straightened out.

A couple of reports (ESPN and Howard Eskin) have said that captain Mike Richards has relinquished the captaincy to Chris Pronger. This was not indicated at last night’s news conference when GM Paul Holmgren claerly stated that Richards was the captain. However, after Laviolette takes over it is possible that a change in captaincy could occur. I think it should happen. Richards, like Stevens, is a quiet sort who does not (or cannot) get in his teammates’ faces and it is believed that Richards never really wanted the captaincy anyway. Pronger, who has captained several teams and won the Cup, can definitely call people out when necessary. He has stayed out of Richards’ way with regard to the captain’s role, but they might as well make the change in leadership across the board. These players need to be held accountable; it would be best to have both the coach and captain with the same approach.

Flyers host the Capitals tonight at the Wachovia Center – should be an interesting evening.

Flyers Fire John Stevens; Peter Laviolette to Take Over

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on December 4, 2009 by flyersfan44

New Flyers' coach Peter Laviolette

The Flyers announced this afternoon that they have dismissed head coach John Stevens. It appears that his replacement will be Peter Laviolette, to be announced at an 8:00 PM news conference.

As suggested here, the Flyers’ inconsistency and lackadaisical play called for a change in coaches. I like Stevens and think he is a good coach, but he was no longer the right coach for this team. Players appeared to be too comfortable with his calm demeanor and the totally mediocre record with the talent they have became unacceptable.

It is expected that Peter Laviolette, who coached the Carolina Hurricanes to a Stanley Cup championship in 2005-06, will take over. The U.S. born Laviolette coached the New York Islanders for two seasons (2001-02, 2002-03) before being fired and hired by the Hurricanes for the 2003-04 season. After winning the Cup the following season, Laviolette coached the ‘Canes for two more full seasons before being fired in December of 2008.

Laviolette has a reputation as a no-nonsense coach and led the ‘Canes to the Cup with a free-flowing offensive style – two things this Flyers team needs. It was a good move to go outside the organization for someone with whom the players will not be too comfortable.

More to come later.