Pronger to Have Surgery, Out 3-4 Weeks; Slump Continues

Posted in Uncategorized on March 14, 2011 by flyersfan44

Looks like defenseman Chris Pronger’s hand is broken after all. He’ll require surgery which will put him out at least 3-4 weeks, which sets up a possible return for the first round of the playoffs. This is certainly disconcerting as the Flyers continue to struggle with complacency, lack of focus, lack of effort, or whatever is causing their current slump. The meltdown against Atlanta on Saturday was unbelievable – blowing a 3-0 lead in the third period and losing 5-4 in overtime. What was once a relatively comfortable lead in the Eastern Conference has all but dissipated, as the Flyers are just barely hanging onto the top spot. Meanwhile, the Caps have won eight in a row, the Penguins keep winning without Crosby and Malkin, and the Bruins have closed in as well. The Flyers have about a dozen games to turn things around and redevelop the winning habits before the playoffs. If they think they’re going to coast into the postseason, they better take another look at what happened to Washington last year in round one. Righting the ship will be that much more difficult without Pronger, as the outstanding defense they had most of the season suddenly looks weak: Sean O’Donnell is struggling and has been for weeks – he looks all of his 39 years, Erik Gustafsson was recalled from the Phantoms, and Nick Boynton will be playing a larger role – he hasn’t played much in the last six weeks coming over from Chicago. On top of that, both goalies Boucher and Bobrovsky are giving up at least one bad goal a game. Every time it happens, I re-live Patrick Kane’s goal in Game 6 last June. Should be an interesting home stretch.

Pronger and Giroux in Heated Discussion

Posted in Uncategorized on March 12, 2011 by flyersfan44

The Inquirer and Daily News both reported that Flyers’ defenseman Chris Pronger and center Claude Giroux were involved in a heated exchange outside the Flyers’ dressing room after Tuesday’s 4-1 vicotry over Edmonton. Giroux had three turnovers in that game and although the Flyers won, they became sloppy after a strong first period, giving up 24 shots and numerous good scoring chances in the second and third periods. Coming on the heels of a four game losing streak, the discussion seems to be part of Pronger’s leadership in calling players out for poor play or lax performance. Several Flyers indicated that the team of late had gotten away from the system, with Mike Richards saying some players were not only not on the same page but not even the same chapter. Jody Shelley indicated that there was some differences in the dressing room that had to be worked out. If part of that is Giroux and other Flyers getting too cute with the puck and committing turnovers, then Pronger’s admonishments should help the situation. This is what you need from a captain and is further evidence that Pronger is the de-facto leader of the team.

Another thought on the losing streak: It started just after Nik Zherdev had a “heart-to-heart” talk with Coach Laviolette and GM Paul Holmgren after being waived for lax play and then reinserted into the lineup. Zherdev had been a turnover machine this season and lax defensively. Was his reinsertion into the lineup a catalyst for other Flyers to become disgruntled by the move and then to let up in their play as well? Interesting that he went back to being a healthy scratch in the midst of the losing streak and, as soon as that happened, the team has had two wins in a row.

Flyers Break Losing Streak but Pronger Not Happy

Posted in Uncategorized on March 9, 2011 by flyersfan44

The Flyers ended their four game losing streak with a 4-1 victory over Edmonton last night, but defenseman Chris Pronger was not very happy after the win. The Flyers came out storming in the first period, outshooting the Oilers 17-1 and taking a 2-0 lead. The rest of the game, however, the Flyers did not look all that good, being outshot 24-10 and giving up numerous in-close scoring opportunities. Pronger commented afterward that there’s winning and then winning in spite of how you play. Pronger is increasingly vocal in the dressing room and appears to be the real captain of the team – holding players accountable for poor play or lax effort.

Hopefully this is just a slump brought on by a long season of being pushed hard and the flu going through the dressing room. However, the let up after the good first period last night is all too familiar from this team that often has difficulty sustaining a 60-minute effort. It makes me wonder if there’s a character flaw among some key players, who have a tendency to be too laid back in their overall approach. Pronger may need to do some serious ass-kicking this month.

Canadiens’ Pacioretty Out After Hit by Bruins’ Chara

Posted in Uncategorized on March 9, 2011 by flyersfan44

Canadiens’ forward Max Pacioretty is out indefinitely with a concussion and broken vertebrae after being hit into a partition along the boards by Bruins’ defenseman Zdeno Chara. With the Bruins trailing 4-0 late in the second period, Pacioretty chased a puck with Chara near the boards by the players bench. As the players approached the boards and with the puck having been chipped past Chara, the 6’9″ defenseman angled Pacioretty into the boards and – watch is left arm – shoves him into the partition. Chara said, of course, that he did not try to injure the Habs’ forward, but it looks like an intentionally dirty hit to me. With the concern over dangerous hits from behind and to the head and the numerous concussions players have had of late, this sort of dirty play should not be tolerated by the league. Chara should get a lengthy suspension if the league is serious about removing dangerous and dirty hits from the game.

Time to Panic? Flyers Blitzed by Rangers, 7-0

Posted in Uncategorized on March 6, 2011 by flyersfan44

It’s definitely a slump. The Flyers were embarrassed in New York this afternoon by the Rangers, who put a 7-0 shellacking on them led by Ryan Callahan’s four goals. This was the Flyers’ worst loss this season and actually their worst in recent memory. Totally out of the game from start to finish. They’ve now dropped four in a row, the PECO Power Play is suffering from a blackout and they’re not scoring much at all.

Is this just a bump in a long road to the playoffs, are they bored because they were well ahead of those trailing them in the standings? Or is this something to be more concerned about as we are heading into the home stretch? Time will tell but it’s time for Coach Laviolette to work some of his magic.

Flyers Add Boynton; Is This a Slump?

Posted in Uncategorized on February 27, 2011 by flyersfan44

The Flyers made a good move by claiming Chicago defenseman Nick Boynton off waivers. This is the seventh defenseman that they needed as insurance for the stretch run and playoffs. He’s a serviceable d-man with good playoff experience last season, and is a right-handed shot, which the Flyers could use on the backline. His cap hit is only $500,000. The Flyers do have room to add another player at tomorrow’s trade deadline. I doubt they will, but maybe the always-welcome scoring winger…?

The Flyers went just 7-4-1 in February and were terrible last night in Ottawa in a 4-1 loss to the worst team in the conference. GM Paul Holmgren had said the team needed an “attitude adjustment”, which probably indicates that they have reverted back to taking things too lightly. It’s a long season and it’s hard to get up for every game. And the injuries to Pronger, Betts, and Leino (playing with hip trouble) haven’t helped. Plus, right now they’re maintaining their fairly comfortable lead over those that are chasing them and are neck-and-neck with Vancouver for the overall lead. You don’t want them peaking too early and this team is too good to nosedive. I wouldn’t worry unless it’s late March and they’re still in a funk.

Zherdev Back; Flyers Trade Rumors

Posted in Uncategorized on February 26, 2011 by flyersfan44

Nik Zherdev cleared waivers with no takers and then had a meeting with coach Peter Laviolette and GM Paul Holmgren. It seems as thought the meeting was productive because the enigmatic winger had a great practice afterward. He appears to have had an epiphany about his effort and gotten a clearer sense of what the Flyers want from him. Looks like he’ll be staying on the roster and will try to work himself back into the lineup. If Zherdev has indeed been awakened, then great – it will be good for the Flyers to have him for the stretch run and playoffs and they could use his goals. It also would mean that they won’t look to trade for a scoring winger as some had speculated they would.

However, as Monday’s trade deadline approaches, the Flyers should look for a veteran defenseman as insurance against injuries. With seventh defenseman Oskars Bartulis out for virtually the rest of the season and the Phantoms’ Matt Walker out with a knee injury, the Flyers would have to rely on inexperienced Erik Gustafsson or questionable Danny Syvret for injury replacements. Gustafsson has been recalled and it looks as though Chris Pronger’s hand injury may be worse than originally thought. If that’s the case, the need for a defenseman becomes even greater. The Flyers had talked with Colorado about Adam Foote, but that looks like a no-go now since he is apparently unwilling to waive his no-trade clause. The Flyers should keep looking, since going for a deep playoff run with no reliable seventh defenseman is asking for trouble. They could end up playing five if an injury occurs and we all remember how well that worked last spring.