Archive for training camp

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.

Defenseman Bryan Berard to Try Out for Flyers

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on August 27, 2008 by flyersfan44

Defenseman Bryan Berard, the number one overall draft pick in 1995 and Rookie of the Year in 1997, will attend Flyers training camp this season in the hopes of winning a job on the Flyers’ blue line.  Berard severely injured his right eye in 2000 when playing for Toronto, taking an errant stick and losing almost all of his sight in that eye.  He amazingly came back from what was thought to be a career-ending injury, enduring seven eye operations and  returning an insurance settlement of over $6 million.  Berard has also had back surgery twice after returning to hockey.  Playing with the Islanders last season, he scored five goals and had 17 assists in 54 games. 

The Flyers will have 21 defensemen when training camp opens in September.  That Berard has been granted a tryout along with this high number of blueliners makes me think that GM Paul Holmgren may be worried that the off-season additions to their defense may not be adequate.  They made no move for an offensive defenseman in the free agent market, so they may be hoping that Berard will be able to fill this void.  One must wonder, however, if the 31 year-old Berard will be the answer or if he’ll end up with the Phantoms as an emergency call-up.