Archive for Simon Gagne

Cheap Shot on Gagne Draws No Penalty – Surprised?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on December 31, 2008 by flyersfan44

Last night’s 3-2 Flyers’ win over Vancouver included an obvious cheap shot just a few seconds into the game on Flyers’ winger Simon Gagne by Canucks’ Kevin Bieska.  Gagne was in a precarious position just a few feet from the boards and facing the boards while making a play on the puck when he was decked from behind by Bieska.  Amazingly, there was no penalty called on the play! No hitting from behind, no boarding, nothing! I sort of remember several Flyers being suspended last season for various (and some marginal, I might add) hits from behind.  Apparently, the NHL crackdown on these sorts of hits does not include when they are committed against the Flyers.  Here is a goon defenseman with a clear cheap shot on one of the league’s leading scorers whose game is finesse and no penalty is called!  I am still seething over this.  The Flyers should complain to the League about this total injustice, and the NHL needs to consider why it continues to look the other way when Flyers are the recipients of these sorts of hits.

Fortunately, captain Mike Richards had the good sense to police this himself, fighting Bieska after it was apparent that no penalty would be called.  Too bad the players have to take this into their own hands as the refs do nothing.  Gagne missed the remainder of the game but it does not appear that the injury is very serious; he should be back within  one or two games.

NHL All-Star Game Balloting

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on December 6, 2008 by flyersfan44

Evidently, fans of the Montreal Canadiens are intent upon engineering an All-Star Game opening lineup that is entirely made up of Les Habitants.   In the fan voting for the Eastern Conference starters as of December 4, five of the six were Canadiens as a result of Montreal fans stuffing the virtual ballot box at http://vote.nhl.com.  Now, I expected better from Canadiens’ fans, who certainly know their hockey.  I would expect them to use that knowledge to vote for the best players as one would expect to see in an all-star game rather than just vote for the home team.  I mean, Carey Price is the goalie right now even though his goals-against average puts him about 15th in the league.

Adding to the impending injustice is that Flyers’ forward Jeff Carter isn’t even on the ballot.  Let’s see, who leads the league in goals?  Um, oh imagine that, it’s Jeff Carter. (Actually he’s tied for the lead with 18).  Simon Gagne, the fourth leading scorer in the league with 31 points, is another Flyer who could merit a starting spot.  Fortunately, there is the capability to write in a player on the voting form and fans can vote as often as they like.  Go to http://vote.nhl.com, put aside homerism, and vote for those who you think are the best players.  I would argue that Carter deserves a write-in vote for his excellent play and scoring this year.  See an earlier post for more information.

Flyers Now Getting it Together

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on November 21, 2008 by flyersfan44
Goalie Marty Biron stops Canadiens' Robert Lang.

Goalie Marty Biron stops Canadiens

OK, things are starting to look better for the Flyers as their play has improved and they are getting out from under that horrible start to the season.  The problem situations that led to the 0-3-3 beginning are being corrected.  The defense is playing much better as coach John Stevens continues to try different pairings.  Newly acquired Matt Carle looks good and has added a steadying influence and rookie Luca Sbisa continues to impress with his unflustered, quietly confident game.   The forwards are playing with more attention to defense, coming back further into the defensive zone and allowing for greater puck support. Goalie Marty Biron has overcome a shaky start and appears to have settled into a groove.  The overall effort from game to game has improved greatly. 

Other positives as we approach the 20-game mark are Simon Gagne, who is showing no lingering effects from the concussion that sidelined him most of last season and has been scoring at a very solid pace, among the league leaders.  Penalty killing has been excellent, and the Flyers lead the NHL with eight short-handed goals.  They’re on pace to break the NHL single-season record held by Edmonton in this category.  The forwards are scoring and the balanced offense that led the Flyers deep into last year’s playoffs is continuing. 

The 2-1 victory in Montreal was the Flyer’ best game of the season thus far, a very solid effort from start to finish that shows that the Flyers can be one of the top teams in the league if they can maintain the consistency of effort that is necessary to win games.

Camp Opens Today

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on September 20, 2008 by flyersfan44

The Flyers open training camp for the much-anticipated 2008-09 season today at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, New Jersey.  Now the off-season moves are pretty much completed and the evaluation begins.  Many fans were disappointed with the lack of a big-name signing over the summer, but salary cap constraints only allowed for a few lesser known names to be added to the roster.  The departure of forward RJ Umberger, also the result of salary cap issues, also was disappointing and this blossoming player will be missed.

Let’s take a look at some of the more significant stories as training camp gets underway:

1. Mike Richards is named Captain. Looks like it’s time for the young forward to take the next step to a leadership position.  The other option was defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who also provides good leadership and was captain in Nashville, but Richards definitely represents the future of the club and it makes sense for him to take on the official designation of team leader.  This will become Richards’ team.

2. Who will be the Top 6 on Defense? With Derian Hatcher placed on injured reserve, Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, and Randy Jones are the automatic top three.  Ryan Parent, who played well during the Flyers’ playoff run, could step into the top 4 spot with a good camp.  That would leave five players to compete for the last two regular spots: Lasse Kukkonen, new acquisitions Steve Eminger, Ossi Vaananen, Danny Syvret, and veteran Bryan Berard, who was recently signed to a tryout contract.  How well Eminger, Vaananen, and Syvret play and whether Berard can still produce will determine how strong the Flyers’ defense will be this season.  They need to improve greatly in this area and cut down on the number of shots allowed per game.  They just cannot regularly give up 35 or 40 shots per game like last season and expect to improve their point total.

3. Another center moves to the wing. How many times have the Flyers moved a center to the wing?  Seems like this has happened often and not always with good results.  The latest experiment is moving Danny Briere from center to wing with Mike Richards centering him and Simon Gagne.  I like Briere at center (his natural position) because of his size.  I’d hate to see him get banged up along the boards, but the Flyers expect some chemistry with this combination. 

4. Will Gagne return to form? After missing most of last season with a concussion, will Gagne return to the 40 goal-scorer or will he be unable to regain his scoring touch? Will he be overly susceptible to concussions and be knocked out of the lineup again?  The solid return of Gagne is essential if the Flyers are to improve.

5. Consistency! The Flyers must develop into a team that plays consistently well over the course of the season.  Too many ups and downs last year, with a horrid ten game losing streak that almost cost them a playoff appearance. Were they playing over their heads in the first two playoff rounds or is that the team that we can expect to see this season?  50 wins could be an achievable goal if some of the question marks pan out but only if coach John Stevens can get them to play at a consistent level throughout the season.

6. Will Giroux make the team and produce? Claude Giroux, who tore up the QMJHL playoffs last spring, is expected to make the team this season.  He has great goal scoring ability and wonderful potential for the Flyers.  Will he be able to produce at the NHL level? This is another piece that the Flyers will need to jump to the next level.

That’s a fair amount of uncertainty heading into camp but should make for an interesting pre-season and early regular season in Philadelphia.