Archive for April, 2010

Second Round Predictions

Posted in Uncategorized on April 30, 2010 by flyersfan44

It’s fun to still be playing in the spring! Here we go for Round 2:

Penguins vs. Canadiens: Give the Habs credit for playing defensive hockey against the capitals and pulling off one of the most improbable upsets ever. Jaroslav Halak was sensational and stole the series. Can he stay hot and do it again to the Cup chumps, er, champs? Pittsburgh can play more physically and defensively than Washington, which should neutralize the advantage Montreal had over Washington. Still, Halak will make it interesting but the Evil Empire will come out on top in six games.

Bruins vs. Flyers: Two evenly-matched teams that play physical, defensive hockey should produce a tough, entertaining series. It could easily go either way. Boston has balanced offense, although their output is not particularly high. However, their checking and defense keep them highly competitive. The Flyers’ loss of Gagne, Carter, and Laperriere is a concern as they’ll now be playing with two minor-leaguers up front and revamped forward lines. Will the long layoff between rounds affect Brian Boucher, who has been playing sensationally? The Flyers have been great on the penalty kill and that will need to continue, as they rarely get a break from the refs, and the top four defensemen are the best shut-down pairings still playing now. If the Flyers’ defense plays as well as it did against New Jersey and Boucher keeps the magic going, the Flyers will prevail in six close, low-scoring games.

Sharks vs. Red Wings: Detroit has great playoff experience and is playing well. The Sharks, however, should be too strong for the aging Wings to contain in a long series. San Jose in seven.

Canucks vs. Blackhawks: The Hawks’ goaltending remains a concern, although Vancouver’s Luongo hasn’t been sensational, either. It’s going to come down to which teams’ stars steps up the most. I think it’s time for the Sedin twins, etc. to shine. Vancouver in seven.

Laperriere Out for Playoffs

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on April 28, 2010 by flyersfan44

Ian Laperriere after the game in which he was injured.

The Flyers got more bad news when they learned that winger Ian Laperriere, who was hit in the face with a puck while blocking a shot in the last game of the series with the Devils, has a brain contusion and concussion and will likely miss the rest of the playoffs. After losing Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne to injury earlier, this is another real blow to the team. Laperriere was invaluable as a shot blocker, penalty killer and checking forward and the Flyers will really miss those elements plus his warrior-like persona. Now down three regular forwards, advancing through the playoffs has become much more difficult for the Flyers. Gagne may return during the next series but Laperriere’s defensive play is a major reason the Flyers defeated the Devils.

We love you, Lappy!

Flyers Shut Out Devils, 3-0, to Take Series

Posted in Uncategorized on April 24, 2010 by flyersfan44

It's all over!

Ian Laperriere after blocking a shot with his face

Boucher makes a save en route to the shut out

Playing a superb defensive game and getting excellent goaltending from Brian Boucher, the Flyers shut out New Jersey, 3-0, on Thursday to win the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series four games to one. Without Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne, the Flyers got two big goals from Claude Giroux, who has elevated his game in the playoffs, stellar goaltending from Boucher, who looks like he’s in a groove now that he’s playing regularly, and great defensive play from everyone to shut down the Devils.

The special teams are playing particularly well, especially the penalty killing units, as the Devils were 0 for 8 on the power play in Game 5. Blair Betts and Ian Laperriere deserve much credit for that. Especially Laperriere, who time and again throws himself in front of shots. He took one in the face late in the game in what was a scary incident with concern about his eye. Fortunately, no “serious” damage other than 60 stitches above the eye. This guy deserves a raise. He finally announced that he’s going to wear a visor from now on – good idea! Devils’ fans showed how much class they have (very little) by cheering after he was hit and bleeding.

The Flyers have been playing better and better defensively with each playoff game with the top four blueliners playing exceptionally well and the forwards all backchecking strongly. The team seems to be forming an identity in the playoffs as a tight-checking, defensive unit that will block shots with reckless abandon, kill penalties, and wear down the opposition with a strong forecheck. That’s exactly what they’ll need to do in the next round, because it looks like the Flyers’ opponent will be the high-powered Washington Capitals in the next round unless Montreal can pull an upset.

Flyers Up 3-1; Carter and Gagne Done

Posted in Uncategorized on April 22, 2010 by flyersfan44

Can we ever get through a playoff year without a major injury? After a fantastic game on Tuesday in which the Flyers gained a stranglehold on the series with a 4-1 victory over the Devils, the Flyers received bad news that two of their top forwards, Simon Gagne and Jeff Carter would miss basically the rest of the playoffs each with a broken foot. Carter was just regaining his form, scoring two goals on Tuesday and Gagne was part of what had become the Flyers best line with Mike Richards and Dan Carcillo. Gagne may be able to return in three weeks, if the Flyers are still playing then.

This is obviously a major blow, just when the team appeared to be getting hot. The Flyers have gotten better as the series has progressed and played a superb defensive game on Tuesday, in a rocking Wachovia Center. They’ll need to continue that play and continue to get great goaltending from Brian Boucher now that two of theri top scorers are out. Claude Giroux, James Van Riemsdyk, and Scott Hartnell will need to step up as well.

Hopefully the Flyers can close out the series tonight in Newark, but it just became much tougher.

Flyers Go Up 2-1 as Car-Bomb Kills Devils

Posted in Uncategorized on April 19, 2010 by flyersfan44

Dan Carcillo scores the overtime winner

Dan “Car-Bomb” Carcillo scored at 3:35 of overtime to give the Flyers a 3-2 victory in Game 3 and a 2-1 lead in the series. Snuck in behind the Devils’ defense and was staring at a wide-open net after Mike Richards got the puck out to him from a scramble at the side of the net. The Flyers played a very good game, outshooting New Jersey 34-19 (12-3 in the 3rd period) and withstanding a ridiculous number of shorthanded situations, thanks to refs Brad Meier and Brad Watson, who called just about everything they could on the Flyers.

The line of Richards-Carcillo-Gagne was fantastic all night and scored the second goal when Carcillo fed Richards in front after Simon Gagne barreled into Devils’ defenseman Mark Fraser behind the net, knocking him off the puck so it could be gathered in by Carcillo. Gagne didn’t touch the puck and therefore did not get an assist on the play, but credit him with an unofficial one for that great forecheck.

Claude Giroux scored the first Flyers’ goal on an incredible slapshot pass from Kimmo Timonen, which was put right on Giroux’s stick for a redirection. Giroux is stepping up now in the playoffs and his play is paying dividends.

This is still a tight series and Devils’ goalie Marty Brodeur looked like his old inpenetrable self last night, especially in the third period, but the Flyers dominated much of the game and that is encouraging. Can they get a stranglehold on the Devils in Game 4?

Flyers Split in New Jersey

Posted in Uncategorized on April 17, 2010 by flyersfan44

The Flyers hed back to the Wachovia Center for Sunday’s Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Series with a split of the first two games in New Jersey. Although they didn’t play great in Game 1, strong goaltending by Brian Boucher allowed the Flyers to come away with the win. In Game 2, both teams played better in a tough contest, which was tied at three entering the final period. Late in the period, the Devils were swarming in the Philly end, catching the Flyers with their third defensive pairing on the ice at the end of their shift. You could just see the goal coming and Dainus Zubrus knocked it past Brian Boucher. An empty-netter made the final 5-3.

The first two games have given reason for promise and some concern. Boucher has played well and appears to be settling into a groove now that he is playing regularly. The Flyers are getting chances and Devils goalie Martin Brodeur does not seem to be the inpenetrable wall that he has previously been. The penalty killing has been very good and the power play was a respectable 2 for 7 in Game 2. The Devils were uncharacteristically undisciplined in Game 2 with nine penalties. Concerning is that the Devils are getting too many good scoring chances and the Flyers’ third defensive pairing, consisting of two among Ryan Parent, Oskars Bartulis, and Lucas Kracijek, seems as though it is not ready for prime time playoffs. Kracijek did not play well in Game 1 and was replaced for Game 2 by Parent, who also struggled. Giveaways and poor coverage from this unit is a problem. Also a concern, as usual, is the Flyers’ inablility to convert good opportunities. You’ve got to bury the puck when you get a scoring chance in the playoffs. Why Scott Hartnell continues to get the minutes he does is beyond me and why was he on the ice with a minute and a half left and the Flyers trying to get the tying goal?

Coming home having stolen the home ice advantage is huge for the Flyers. They should be able to get the match-ups they want at home and should feed off the energy of the crowd, which is always jacked up for the playoffs. Game 3 will be important: The Flyers need to stay ahead in this series. If they fall behind, I could see their fragile self-confidence start to unravel. Sunday will be a key game.

Playoff Predictions

Posted in Uncategorized on April 14, 2010 by flyersfan44

Eastern Conference
Washington vs. Montreal – Les Canadiens played the Caps well this season, going 2-2 against them. Unless Halak steals the series, the Caps will dispatch Montreal in five.

New Jersey vs. Philadelphia – The Flyers were 5-1 against the Devils this season, which gives some hope for fans of the inconsistent Flyers that an upset is possible. Here’s the value of having two shut-down defensemen – Pronger and Timonen can each go up against the Devils’ two scoring lines. The playoffs are Pronger’s time of the year. It will also need to be Richards’, Briere’s, and Boucher’s time of the year as well if the Flyers are going to pull off an upset. Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur has not played great in the playoffs the last couple of years. They use him alot in the regular season; is he wearing down? The Flyers should be motivated to shut up alot of the criticism by winning this series and will do so in six.

Pittsburgh vs. Ottawa – The Penguins haven’t been playing great and the Senators were pretty hot as the season wore down, but the Evil Empire will prevail in six.

Buffalo vs. Boston – If Rask can outduel Ryan Miller in goal, the Bruins could prevail but Miller looked awesome in the Olympics and I expect the same from him in the playoffs, but it will take seven for the Sabres to prevail.

Western Conference
San Jose vs. Colorado – The Avs were a surprise this year so don’t underestimate them. However, the Sharks should carry the momentum from winning the conference to a victory in five.

Chicago vs. Nashville – The Hawks’ goaltending is a concern and losing defenseman Brian Campbell to injury hurt, but their strength up front should defeat the Predators in six.

Vancouver vs. Los Angeles – The Canucks should roll over L.A. in five.

Phoenix vs. Detroit – I know, I know, the Coyotes get no respect. Hey, they have a strong, underrated defense and great goaltending but I’m picking the Red Wings, who finished the season really strong, to win it in seven.