Archive for February, 2010

Showdown is Set: USA vs. Canada

Posted in Uncategorized on February 27, 2010 by flyersfan44

Mike Richards of the Flyers scores against Norway.

Canada's Roberto Luongo replaced Martin Brodeur early in the tournament.

USA goalie Ryan Miller

A great Olympic hockey tournament will culminate tomorrow with the gold medal game that everyone in North America wanted (especially Gary Bettman): the United States vs. Canada. Team USA has surprised alot of people, going undefeated in the tournament so far, including a 5-3 win over the Canadians, and destroying Finland in the semi-finals with six first period goals. A great balance of size, speed, offensive power, checking, and goaltending has resulted in a really good, entertaining team. Goalie Ryan Miller has been superb, forward Zach Parise has had a breakout tournament, and the team has played as if they’ve been together for much longer than a couple weeks. Canada has overcome a slower start and some questioning from the demanding Canadian fans, who expect that the gold should go to them every Olympic year. After the loss to the United States in the preliminary round, the canucks were forced to face Russia in the elimination round. They pounded the apparently unsuspecting Russians in the first period and were all over them with aggressive checking and highly skilled passing en route to a 7-3 win. Canada looks to be peaking now after holding on for a 3-2 win over surprisingly good Slovakia.

Tomorrow’s game is the dream match-up for the NHL and North American fans. It will be the 50th anniversary to the day of the USA’s gold medal win in 1960 and could be their first gold medal since the miracle upset of the Soviet Union in 1980. Canada has never won a gold medal in men’s ice hockey on its home soil. The Canadian sense of entitlement with regard to the hockey gold will be at a high level; the fans will undoubtedly be rabid and it should be a great game. Let’s go USA!

Olympic Break

Posted in Uncategorized on February 19, 2010 by flyersfan44

Been enjoying the Olympic hockey tournament so far. Last night’s Canada vs. Switzerland match was surprisingly entertaining. Give the Swiss credit for playing the Canadians tough and close. The canucks squeaked out a 3-2 win in the shootout. Both Canada and the young U.S. team have won their first two games, setting up a big game on Sunday as the two face each other in their final preliminary round game. Martin Brodeur will get the start for Canada. Marc-Andre Fleury has yet to play. This game will determine seeding for the playoff round. Also looking forward to seeing Jaromir Jagr play for the Czechs and Peter Forsberg for the Swedes – I wonder how much of their skill they’ve retained while being out of the NHL for a few years.

Emery Shut Down – Now What?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 11, 2010 by flyersfan44

Enjoying another blizzard in the Philadelphia area – two feet of snow yesterday on top of two feet of snow five days ago. We have boards four feet high on our school’s roller hockey rink and the snow is at the top of them! Meanwhile, the Flyers have iced Ray Emery, putting the goalie on the shelf for three weeks to see if his injured hip responds to rest. That forces the question about the Flyers’ goalie situation for the stretch run. If Emery cannot play after the rest period, do the Flyers acquire a goalie via trade or go with Michael Leighton? Rumors have circulated about Flyers’ interest in Montreal’s Jaroslav Halak, Dallas’ Marty Turco, and the Islanders’ Marty Biron – remember him? Leighton, claimed off the scrap heap earlier this season, has been great with the Flyers, going 10-3-1 with a 2.21 GAA and a .925 save percentage. But is he the guy to carry the team down the stretch and in the playoffs?

OK, let’s think: Emery won’t be able to carry the load when his rest is over. He may have a torn labrum, they expect that he’ll need surgery in the summer, so they’re just trying to get him through the season. Hips don’t usually respond to rest. So don’t expect that Emery will be able to go far in March.

Can we afford to acquire a #1 goalie without hurting ourselves at forward or defense? Probably not. Forget about Turco – he’s got a huge contract and is in the twilight of his career. Halak is playing well now, but remember him in the playoffs against the Flyers a couple years ago? Biron we could get for cheap, but I thought everyone agreed that he wasn’t the guy (at least for the salary he was looking for).

Do we have a legitimate shot at the Cup this season? Despite two nice wins over the Devils this week, this team hasn’t shown the consistency necessary plus they haven’t shown that the players they have now can compete with the elite. They’re ten points behind last year’s pace.

No, we ride Michael Leighton through the end of the season, pack it up in April, and then make some major moves with personnel over the summer. Dump the high salaried-low production-no effort guys, look at trading for or signing a bona fide #1 goalie like Ilya Bryzgalov and start it over again.

In the meantime, let’s play in the snow.

Flyers Trade Tollefsen to Wings for Ville Leino

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on February 6, 2010 by flyersfan44

Ville Leino

OK, the Devils get Ilya Kovalchuk and the Flyers get Ville Leino. See why we’re so happy? Holmgren acquires another forward who doesn’t score. Leino is a Finnish (hopefully not finished) left wing, 26 years of age, and in his second season in the NHL. He was named MVP of the Finnish Elite League in 2007-08 after scoring 28 goals and 49 assists in 55 games. He played 13 games with Detroit last season and generated some excitement with five goals and four assists. This season, he has four goals in 43 games and had been benched a couple times. He is an offensive-minded player whose strength supposedly is his ability to control the puck down low. However, criticism from Detroit this year is that he has not been strong on the puck and is easily snuffed out of the play, has a tendency to remain stationary and survey things when he gets the puck instead of moving his feet, and has not been finishing. Great, another forward who has trouble finishing. Maybe this is just a depth move since there’s no one on the Phantoms that is worth calling up in case of an injury. Or, maybe Homer’s going to deal one of our other high-priced and unproductive forwards for a top defenseman. With Parent and Syvret hurt and not close to returning, trading Tollefsen leaves us with only six blueliners. Since our scoring is down, focusing on defense may be the way to go, especially if we get into the playoffs. This move may be making the expenditure of a forward more tolerable.

Devils Acquire Kovalchuk

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on February 5, 2010 by flyersfan44

Great – the Devils come out of nowhere and land Atlanta sniper Ilya Kovalchuk for defenseman Johnny Oduya, forward Niclas Bergfors, prospect Patrice Cormier, and a first round pick. Lou Lamoriello is a genius GM. Think about it: Since the early 90s, the Devils have been near the top in the league most years with several Cups along the way. This season, they are again near the top in points and now they land a 40-50 goal scorer. It will be interesting to see if the Devils will be able to re-sign him after this season – he turned down a huge offer from Atlanta – or if they are getting him just as a rental for the rest of the season. Bergfors will be the key to the deal. A rookie, I think he’ll turn into a decent scorer, maybe a 30 goal a year player. Oh, and take note that Cormier, 19 years old and playing in juniors, is suspended for the rest of the season for a vicious, deliberate attempt to injure, elbow to the head center ice hit. So we have another Scott Stevens-type Devil on his way up, too.

Of course, Kovalchuk comes into the Flyers’ division. So now we must contend with him as well as Brodeur, Crosby, Malkin, and Ovechkin. The Flyers tried to keep up over the summer, acquiring Chris Pronger specifically to shut down the Pittsburgh Pair, but their record and play this season indicates that they have a long way to go before they can expect to knock off the elite teams above them. The Flyers were in on the Kovalchuk talks but how close were they? We all know that the Flyers don’t really like Russian players and they didn’t want to give up Van Riemsdyk or Giroux, one of which the Thrashers wanted. The Flyers were offering Hartnell and Briere, both of whom have no-trade clauses and are ridiculously overpaid for their production this season. Don Waddell must have laughed at that offer. Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don’t make, but you gotta figure the Flyers have to do something here. The offense has disappeared again – they were just shut out by Edmonton, which has three wins in its last 23 games. There’s another couple of points lost that they’ll lament over in April.

Although they picked up Lukas Kracijek, I think they’ll try to land another defenseman. I’d love to see Scott Niedermayer here and the Ducks may trade him if they can’t crack the top four in the west. He’s 36 years old but playing well and it would fit the Flyers’ pattern of acquiring aging veterans. Two other players who fit that description that the Flyers are supposedly interested in are the Oilers’ Ethan Moreau (34 years old and about four goals) and Carolina defenseman Niklas Wallin (34 years old). I’m turning in my tickets if they trade for Moreau. Wallin at least has size (6’3, 220) and I’ll bet that’s who they end up with. (Don’t be surprised if Rod Brind’Amour is thrown into that deal – for real).

Flyers Claim Lukas Krajicek; Trade to Come?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on February 1, 2010 by flyersfan44

The Flyers claimed Tampa defenseman Lukas Krajicek off waivers.

The Flyers got some help on defense when they claimed 6’3, 205-lb. defenseman Lukas Krajicek off waivers from the Lightning. Krajicek is a serviceable defenseman who has played for several teams over the last six years. He’s still young at 26 and will provide some additional experience on the blueline.

I thought the Flyers were going to get Dion Phaneuf from the Flames – they were talking – but Phaneuf just went to Toronto in a blockbuster deal. Not sure if claiming Krajicek means they got their defenseman. I was hoping for a top-four d-man. I still think Scott Niedermayer is a possibility.

Trade rumors continue around Jeff Carter. He has been mentioned in a possible deal to Montreal along with a prospect for goalie Jaroslav Halak, defenseman Paul Mara, forward Tomas Plekanec and a 2010 first rounder. I don’t think the Flyers are interested in Halak. However, I know they’d like to get a first round pick since they traded theirs for Pronger. Mara may interest them as well. It may be worthwhile to note that Krajicek is from the Czech Republic and so is Plekanec. Did they claim Krajicek knowing that they’re going to acquire Plekanec? OK, maybe that’s far-fetched.

The Flyers are supposedly one of a few teams that are in on a possible Ilya Kovalchuk deal. (The others are Chicago, LA, Rangers, and Bruins). The Thrashers’ sniper is almost certain to be traded but would command a player, prospect and draft pick. I don’t see the Flyers giving up a Giroux or Van Riemsdyk and they don’t have the pick, plus the offense has picked it up. They need more help on defense and if a deal goes down, I think it’ll be for a blueliner.

With the Olympic break looming, there’s sort of two deadlines so let’s see what happens between now and the Olympics.