Archive for December, 2010

Iginla Trade Rumors; Leighton to Start Tonight

Posted in Uncategorized on December 30, 2010 by flyersfan44

With Jay Feaster replacing Darryl Sutter as GM in Calgary and the Flames foundering near the bottom with goal-scoring troubles, rumors have reignited (like the pun?) that the Flames may look to deal winger Jerome Iginla. This rumor has been around before but with the changes in Calgary and their desire to acquire some young prospects, it may have more teeth this time around.

One rumor had Iginla going to the Flyers in a deal that involved a goalie, Andreas Nodl, another young prospect (Eric Wellwood?), and perhaps a draft pick. The Flyers would have to be able to fit Iginla’s salary under the cap, however, so something more may be involved here. Laviolette’s not real high on Dan Carcillo (he’s often been scratched when healthy) so if this happens he could go as well. Also, don’t rule out the Flyers trading Jeff Carter. Although they’ve given no indication of a willingness to do so, his lackadaisical play, defensive lapses, and generally aloof personality do not fit Laviolette’s mold.

Another rumor had Iginla going to Pittsburgh. The Penguins really want to find a winger to play with Crosby and wouldn’t mind trading Pascal Dupuis, but they’re right up on the cap, too and would have to give up alot more than Dupuis. Would they consider trading Malkin? He takes unnecessary and costly retaliation penalties and opponents know they can get him off his game fairly easily.

Keep your eyes on this one.

Leighton to Start Tonight
Goalie Michael Leighton is rumored to be starting tonight for the first time this season after his surgery. Not sure a game against the Kings with the team coming off two lopsided losses is the best idea, but if they’re going to deal a goalie, they’ve got to get him in there sometime soon.

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Flyers Resume with Big Road Trip

Posted in Uncategorized on December 28, 2010 by flyersfan44

The Flyers begin an important five game road trip tonight in Vancouver, which will also take them to Los Angeles, Anaheim, Detroit, and New Jersey. Long road trips can sometimes tell you how good and resilient a team is – the Flyers have already proven that they deserve to be near the top of the league with four consecutive wins against Boston, Pittsburgh, Montreal, and the Rangers before the break and earlier wins against the Pens and Caps. We know they’re a resilient bunch – witness last season. This trip will be important for the Flyers to keep the momentum going and because the rival Penguins overtook them for first before the break. Can’t lose ground to the Evil Empire.

It will be a challenging trip because the Flyers are coming off a long layoff and are without stalwart defenseman Chris Pronger. Under these circumstances, I’d take six out of a possible ten points on the trip.

Tonight’s game will be tough – first game after the layoff and against the Canucks, who are hot. Also, the Flyers are only 3-2-2 against the West this season while the Canucks are 6-2-2 against the East.

By the way, the Flyers’ overall record at this point is identical to their record at this point in 1973-74. And we know what happened at the end of that season, right?

Penguins-Capitals: Winter (Not So) Classic

Posted in Uncategorized on December 24, 2010 by flyersfan44

The NHL is gearing up for another Winter Classic outdoor game on New Year’s Day, this year featuring the matchup the league has wanted for a while: Pittsburgh and Sidney Crosby vs. Washington and Alex Ovechkin. The annual outdoor game has been highly successful and entertaining since it began in 2008. It’s been a marketing boon to the NHL and a great forum in which to showcase the sport.

The problem is, the Penguins were already in the Winter Classic just three years ago. The league needs to get over its love affair with Sidney Crosby and the Penguins. Yes, Crosby is a great player and exciting to watch. But there are other teams and players who are also good and marketable and who would like a shot at this showcase event. Certainly the outdoor aspect limits the possible venues by excluding the warm-weather cities, but the league can certainly spread the game around more than having a repeat appearance by a team that was in the game so recently.

Canadian teams have been petitioning to be included and have yet to appear. (The league is attempting to appease them by adding a second outdoor game in Calgary in February). The sport was invented in Canada and there are good Canadian teams that could be appropriately showcased. Montreal, with unmatched history and tradition, or Vancouver, with the Sedin twins, are two that come to mind. Even this year with Washington playing, the game could have been held in Ottawa for a matchup of the teams representing the two national capitals. Or how about another locale with great ice hockey tradition – Minnesota? Why not the Wild against the Dallas Stars, Minnesota’s former team?

As successful as it’s been, the event will continue and that’s a good thing – it’s a great treat for hockey fans on New Year’s Day and helps to market the sport. And necessity will dictate that there be repeat appearances. OK, but how about spreading things around a little first and stop favoring the beloved Penguins.

Three Goalies, Zherdev, and Pronger

Posted in Uncategorized on December 20, 2010 by flyersfan44

A few thoughts as we enjoy the Flyers’ position on top of the NHL:

Three’s a Crowd
Having three solid goalies is not a bad thing, however, carrying three goalies for most of a season is not often a workable situation. Now that Michael Leighton has recovered from his back surgery, the Flyers have to decide what to do. They can’t send down Boucher or Leighton without exposing them to waivers, and Bobrovsky has been playing too well to even think of sending him down. Boucher has been red hot in the recent games he’s played. I don’t see how (or why) they would try to work in Leighton right now. However, it would be nice to have insurance in case one goalie goes down with injury. Look for them to carry three at least until Pronger comed off injured reserve and they have to count his salary again. This should give more time to see where Boucher and Bobrovsky stand with their play and determine which two they’ll carry toward the playoffs.

Zherdev Coming On
The Flyers knew they were taking a chance in signing Nikolay Zherdev – he has never been particularly strong defensively and has had attitude problems in other places. He has been in Laviolette’s dog house at times this season because of effort and turnovers. He does try these slick one-on-one moves in the offensive zone, which rarely work and inevitably result in a turnover and a rush the Flyers’ way. Still, he is gifted offensively and highly skilled, and is on about a 30-goal pace for the season. That’s why they signed him. But dropping him to the fourth line or the press box is not getting value from him. He needs to play with other good players and get time on the power play. Zherdev has looked good on a new line with Carter and Van Riemsdyk – I could see this line really developing into something exciting and productive. Zherdev is a work in progress but Laviolette is a good coach who may be able to turn him into a complete player who’s more defensively aware and responsible. If he matures as a player this season, he could be a gem for the Flyers.

Pronger Injury
Defenseman Chris Pronger is out six weeks with a broken foot. Not great news but this is not the worst time for an injury to the Flyers’ top defenseman. Their schedule slows down some and it’s the part of the season that drags and wears on a player. Let’s say Pronger comes back in February, takes some games to get his game back, then is fresher and healthy for the stretch drive. Meanwhile, Bartulis gets into some games and then he’s more ready if someone else is injured later on. With all the broken feet they’ve had lately, how about considering some way to put additional protection on players’ skates?

Flyers Beat Bruins in OT, Bust Penguins Streak, Lead NHL

Posted in Uncategorized on December 16, 2010 by flyersfan44

The Flyers are flying high right now after charging into a week of “measuring-stick” games against other top clubs and winning all of them. Mike Richards scored with three seconds left in overtime against Boston’s awesome Tim Thomas, lifting the Flyers to victory. They followed that up on Tuesday by breaking the arch-rival Penguins’ 12 game winning streak with a 3-2 win, then beat the Canadiens in Montreal by a 5-3 margin, coming back to win late after the Habs tied the game. The Flyers now lead the NHL in points. Their game looks the strongest it’s been in recent memory. Goal production leads the league, they have balanced scoring, the defense is solid, and both rookie Sergei Bobrovsky and back-up Brian Boucher have been superlative in goal.

The lines look like their are getting some continuity as the Briere-Hartnell-Leino line has stayed in tact for the entire season and is producing. Last couple of games, Carter has moved back to center with Zherdev and van Riemsdyk, and that line produced well, with Carter and Zherdev each netting a goal and JVR scoring two against Montreal. He has seven goals in his last 12 games and is starting to look like the player the Flyers had hoped for when they drafted him. Maybe he’s not going to be the bust that I thought he was.

This time last year they had lost ten in a row and fired their coach. Laviolette has them playing with a scary efficiency, destructing everything in their path right now. Definitely a good time to be a Flyers’ fan!

Flyers Blow Lead, Lose to Sharks in Shootout

Posted in Uncategorized on December 10, 2010 by flyersfan44

I swear this team has Attention Deficit Disorder, and they forgot their Ritalin on Wednesday night as they blew a 4-1 lead with 13 minutes left and eventually lost in the shootout. No excuses for losing their focus and letting a point slip away.

They rebounded with a 4-1 win at Toronto the next night but they need to beat the league’s good teams consistently. They’ll have a chance to show they can do that this coming week, with games against Boston, Pittsburgh, Montreal, and the Rangers. This week should be a good gauge of how good they really are.

Sergei Bobrovsky Named Rookie of the Month

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on December 2, 2010 by flyersfan44

Flyers’ rookie goalie sensation Sergei Bobrovsky was named NHL Rookie of the Month for November after posting a 7-1-2 record. “Bob” is continuing the stellar play that earned him a surprising spot on the Flyers’ roster out of training camp. Meanwhile, goalie Michael Leighton has recovered from his back injury and has been sent to Adirondack for conditioning. The big question is: what do the Flyers do when Leighton is ready to return to the Flyers in a week? Bobrovsky has played so well that they can’t even think of sending him down. Carrying three goalies never works plus the Flyers can’t afford it being so close to the salary cap. Brian Boucher hasn’t played poorly, so do they keep him or try to send him down? He would have to clear waivers to go to the Phantoms and clear them again to be recalled. Do they trade Boucher? Then what happens when Leighton gets re-injured? They have a week to figure it out.

Sergei Bobrovsky