Tonight the Flyers embark on a quest to win their third Stanley Cup. Their first task in accomplishing that goal is to beat their long time rival the New York Rangers. The Blueshirts are a very hard team to draw in the Quarters and this matchup does not particuarly bode well for the Flyers. New York has the advantage in Goal and on the Blueline, however the ice tilts in Philly's favor on the offensive side. In order for Philly to overcome New York they need to be a disciplined, patient team. That…that usually doesn't happen.
New York is a very quality hockey team. They are capable of going on a deep run in this new playoff format, and are one of the only Eastern Conference teams that matches up well with the Boston Bruins. They have a defensive core that all Flyers fans should be jealous of. They have excellent wingers but not great centers. Rick Nash is an explosive forward who can change the game with his bullheaded rushes and silky hands. The Rangers have a lot of good things, things all Stanley Cup contenders need. They are missing one thing. They do not have the best player on the ice in this series. Not by a long shot.
This series can be summed up nicely: It begins with Giroux. It will end with Giroux.
Those are Philly's chances in this series. As X goes, so goes Philly's offense. He is the main force on special teams and at even strength. The Flyers may need him to steal home ice away with some late game magic. He is certainly capable of doing so. We saw Giroux carry a similar team against he Penguins in 2011. We saw Giroux take a 1-7 hockey team and turn them into a playoff dark horse. We saw Giroux become a top 3 scorer in the league after starting the season what felt like 100 games without a point. This series is a collection of conundrums for the Flyers. To be opportunistic but don't try to force "it". To be careful but not passive. To be aggressive but not take penalties. How Berube arranges his chess pieces and his game by game strategy are a huge item to watch. Via, Frank Seravalli, Berube has already stated that they Flyers will attack NYR defenseman Ryan McDonagh in a peculiar way. We can only wait and see what other type of tactics the Chief has cooked up for this series. I worry about not about the tactic of trying to neutralize the Rangers best defenseman like this, I worry about staying committed to the tactic. If the Rangers score early does this type of strategy get abandoned prematurely?
This will be a Patrick Division battle. I fully expect this series to go 6 or 7 games . If the Flyers can capitalize on special teams and keep their system simple, they will take a huge Penn Station homeless man on the 2 train dump on the Rangers. If the Rangers frustrate the Flyers with stellar goaltending and a tight counter attack, then the Rangers will take a huge Penn Station homeless man on the C train dump on the Flyers.
It''ll be Claude Giroux and the Flyers moving on after this battle is over. I have no doubt. Let's turn this bolg R-rated for a real quick second and give the Rangers a massive Sbarro-loving, MTA riding, booger eating tax riding, no good music venue in the city anymore having, too many Starbucks and wheres the local coffee needing, gentrification all over the place for rich europeans to invest in needing, all the girls never talk to me at bars they are dummies, big dumb overrated city with a terrible hockey team. Fuck the Rangers.
Feels good to be back baby. Let's Go Flyers.
This is a straight up cut and paste job, except that I had to retype this whole thing because it was written back in the day when books were printed on paper. What's up with that?
I've been reading this excellent book about the 1980-81 Oilers for the past couple years (slow reader) and recently came across a great section that made me actually LOL. I can't believe things were exactly the same THIRTY years ago, and the hockey news industry as continued to chug along like there's no other way to handle the situation.
From Peter Gzowski's The Game of Our Lives:
"With broadcasters and the press, Fuhr showed a still more remarkable facet of his personality. He would answer question as if he had never learned the language of "the interview" - the ritual by which hockey players would phrase wordy and predictable answers to wordy and predictable questions. Fuhr answered what was asked of him, no less but certainly no more. Asked if he found NHL play much tougher than Junior A, he would not say, as the ceremony demanded, "Well they're faster here and they shoot harder and I'm playing against guys I used to read about and dreamed of playing against, but I just try to do my job one game at a time; and if I hang in there I think…" Instead he answered "No." Had it surprised him when Sather had shown so much faith in him? "No, not really." Well, did he like playing on the same team as Gretzky and the other young stars? "Sure" he would say and look quizzically at his interrogator, as if the question had not been serious. There was no arrogance in these exchanges; Fuhr simply talked the way he played goal - coolly and giving up no easy rebounds."
For some reason I had always assumed that guys were more open to journalists 30 years ago. Smoking cigarettes with them on the tarmac, sharing stories in front of them over a few too many rye at the hotel bar.
It seems, however, that reports have been asking the same questions forever. Questions whose responses I'm sure they could write without even having to go through the formality of the interview.
What a silly, wasteful little dance.
During last night's very fulfilling 400-2 win over the Blue Jackets, Wayne Simmonds stood up for his younger teammates so that Derek Dorsett could move onto ruining shutouts, getting stitched up, and other more worthwhile pursuits.
Simmonds' acumen in deciding when to fight and then his skill during those fights has really surprised me this season. I knew he would shed the mittens from time to time, but I didn't know he'd be any good at it. His 3 years in LA were marked with draws against the likes of Andrew Alberts, Colin Fraser, and Mike Brown, as well as short, not terribly exciting wins against big-time brawlers like Max Pacioretty, Jeff Woywitka, and Mark Fistric.
But this season Simmonds has taken on some fairly tough customers in David Clarkson, Barrett Jackman, and last night, Derek Dorsett.
Dorsett, by far the most experienced pugilist that Simmonds has fought in his pro career, had already been sent off for trying to start something with James van Riemsdyk. I suppose Simmonds got the impression that Dorsett wouldn't stop until he was able to demonstrate his dedication to his teammates and future coaching staff. So Simmonds obliged. And busted up Dorsett's face.
There were two fights after this one, but Dorsett was the big threat. The guy who was going to start trouble if real trouble was going to be started. And Simmonds stepped in for the preemptive strike. And scored a big win.
Here's hoping Simmonds' continues to step in when needed, providing the kind of team toughness that allows the Flyers to ice the most skilled lineup possible, night in night out.
If you're not trolling Reddit, or haven't stumbled upon these quickmemes before, you got a lot of laughin' to do. Our favorite, by far, is the Socially Awkward Penguin. Annoying Facebook Girl is up there too.
If you want to make some of your own mail 'em over to email@example.com and we'll post them up here. As long as they're not worse than ours, which suck pretty low.
Socially Awkward Penguin:
Daniel Carcillo hasn't had the fasted start in his new, sweet home, Chicago. After 8 games all he had to show in his stat line were two assists and two penalty miinutes. That's right, in his new home Daniel Carcillo has failed to drop the gloves. Or earn a misconduct. Surprising.
Last night he took a step in the right direction, with one of those goals that leaves people wondering if he actually does have some amount of skill that, if he just concentrated on, could lead him to the 20 goal mark some day. For any of you Blackhawk fans who might be reading this, he doesn't. But he will score 2 or 3 nifty goals during his tenure there.
Here's his first as a Blackhawk from last night's game against the Lightning:
When you score an NHL goal, and even the coaches are laughing, you're going places, baby.
Like to many other teams in the summers of the future.
Not really, but some...less entrepreneurial we'll say...ticket holders have already gone and put their Winter Classic tickets on sites such as StubHub, eBay, and TiqIQ THE BEST TICKET RESALE VENDOR IN THE 8 PLANETS.
Perhaps these people are looking to get their cash before there's a possible backlash against outrageous pricing? Maybe looking to make some loot before the 99% take over?
Difficult to say. But what I can say is that the bar has been set at "fairly affordable" for the alumni game and "out of my price range" for the actual Winter Classic.
Alumni Game - currently $44 through $230
Winter Classic - currently $500 through $1,395
I guess you have a certain obligation to take care of season ticket holders (that obligation being to make more people buy season tickets by offering the WC as bait), but something just doesn't seem right about having the basement for an afternoon hockey game the day after New Year's, with everyone having to go back to work on Tuesday, start at $500 for seats that are basically in the Phanatic's dressing room (for the record we would pay $5,000 to watch the Phanatic get dressed if that was being offered).
Excitement surrounding Eric Lindros' return, timing, and price are all reasons why the Alumni Game on New Year's Eve is looking like a much more attractive alternative for an older gentleman like myself (30). A 4PM game on NYE is just about the best thing ever. Get all Flyered up at 4 and then pull a James Bond into a tux to take your lady out to some $150 all you can drink party with folding tables hidden by exotic table cloths. Win win.
For those of you who don't know, straight up thuggery on ice has moved from 1970's North America to the KHL. It was a seamless transition and the change management process has been progressing smoothly. There were the line brawls, the goalie fights, the "fights" with maniacal laughing.
But until earlier this week it seemed that most of the Canadian tough guys who had ventured to the KHL for money, vodka, and mail-order brides (local postage) were mainly targeting Europeans and Russians with their ridiculous antics. That's not longer the case, as Thursday night saw notorious AHL enforcer Jeremy Yablonski take on journeyman Darcy Verot - and litteraly drop 'bows on him.
This was these warriors' second tilt of the game, and according to Russian websites, "Если вы перевели это, вы, вероятно, также перематывается кредиты производствана это всегда солнечно. Вы должны перестать делать такого рода вещи."
Like the Wild Wild East over there. Is Will Smiff gonna have to get involved?
I've reviewed the tape six times now. And someone who stood out, in not a great way, during last night's 4-3 shootout loss to the Devils, is Braydon Coburn.
With Chris Pronger on sick leave all the Flyers defensemen have been asked to step up in his absence. Not only that, but they also have been forced to change their routines, to break habit and play with a number of different defensive partners. Sometimes even in the same game.
It's like American Gothic went Big Love out there.
With Kimmo as the obvious foundation of our defensive house, Braydon Coburn is the first floor. Now, I don't know exactly what that metaphor means, but what I mean is that Coburn is shouldering a lot more responsibility and bit more ice time. The Flyers, and fans, are looking for him to step up and play the game that we see glimpses of from time to time. And last night he didn't do that. Especially in in his own end. Last night giveaways were killing the Flyers in their own zone, and he had some of the more memorable ones.
But were they his fault? I'd argue no, in a lot of the cases.
I lauded Claude Giroux for playing excellent defense yesterday. In the offensive zone. Forwards don't necessarily need to be in a defensive mindset at all times, but they need to get back to the defensive zone and get to where their D-men expect them to be. At no point was the forwards' lack of intensity in the defensive zone displayed more egregiously last night than when Braydon Coburn was dragging the puck back into his own zone, then into his corner, and then put the puck not hard off the glass, but right to the boards on the hash mark….for a Devil forward to eventually come pick up and take in on B.O.B. for a scoring chance.
When the play was unfolding there were three Flyers on the screen, in the zone, and two Devils. Coburn went so far into the zone that the 3rd Flyer got cut out of the view. When Coburn put the puck to the sideboards even I expected that guy to be there. He wasn't. I was wondering why someone would go for a change right then. I guess if the guy was absolutely dead and the defensemen had control the puck that could be understandable. But on a replay of the scoring chance they showed Maxima Talbot drifting back to this spot and the BLOWING THE ZONE. He just started skating away. He got on the wrong side of two Devils players when he could quite obviously see Coburn was facing the wrong way, and had no chance of knowing the guy he was counting on would not be there.
This happens all the time with the Flyers forwards. They know that the Flyers D-men are going to rip the puck around the boards. Shit, you know they're going to. But the forwards don't start skating until the defensemen actually fire the puck. If the puck doesn't somehow bounce past the opposition's defensemen these plays lead to some long spans of pressure, full shifts in the D zone.
Not to say that the Flyers defensemen are infallible by any means. But the old cliché that says if one of the parts breaks the machine breaks holds true in this case. The defensemen have dudes barreling down on them at full speed, trying to put them through the boards. The least the forwards could do is expend a little extra energy and get to their breakout positions every single time.
Don't even get me started on the forwards dicking around with the puck 3 feet from the blue line….
- - - - - -
THREE people chose Zac Rinaldo to score the first goal last night. Just 3. Ha. Suckas. Only one of them won our drawing, although all successful guesses will be included in our season-ending grand prize drawing for a night in John Stevens' house in Sea Isle this summer. The winner was @tunzo17. You didn't see that coming, did you.
Winning an NHL game with Harry Zolnierczyk, Ben Holmstrom, Zac Rinaldo, Erik Gustafsson, and Jody Shelley in your lineup is quite the feat. I don't care how you do it. If you want to score all your goals on American hero Ryan Miller in the first 6 minutes and then not really have much offense afterwards that's fine. No complaints here.
The difference between a 6-5-1 record and a 7-4-1 record is huge. For me. As a fan. Makes me breath easier. Allows we to keep thinking that we're a solid club, not a team who might be .500 after tonight. Keeps the controversy talk down. Me likey. Mucho gusto.
There were a number of significant plays that led to the win last night. Obviously the goals helped. But I want to take a minute or two, depending on how fast you read, and talk about three plays that I felt shaped the game, and the traits they displayed, that hopefully come to define this team.
Responsibility - At the beginning of the shift that ended with Steve Hartnell's eventual game winning goal, Hartnell and Jagr were fighting for the puck deep in the Sabres zone. The puck squirted out and Claude Giroux, who was floating around the slot like a sea gull, started to go for the loose puck but then pulled up and fell back into his defensive role. He stuck to the system. The race to the puck would have been close, and he knew that was reason enough to pull out even though it was just 5 minutes into a game where offesnive pressure meant more shots on a wounded goalie. Who knows what would have happened if he went for that puck, missed, and there was an odd man break the other way. Not to soothsay too much, but the Sabres would have won 14 -2. Just soothsayin'.
Sacrifice - Max Talbot, who I'm still getting used to like a fancy gin cocktail I've only taken two sips of, had a huge shot block during the first of many second period penalty kills. The Flyers squad had been pinned in their zone since the opening face off of the power play, and after about 90 seconds were all dying or dead. Kimmo may have actually been dead - blocking his second shot in as many periods. The Sabres were moving the puck well around the perimeter and Derlicht Roy wound up for a clapper from the point only to have Talbot slide out at him like Patrick Roy in '93 and block the shot all the way down the ice. If Turtle McGuire stops asking him about Pittsburgh this might become a gin drink I can stomach.
Skill - Our lost in the woods, iPhone wielding mother fucker of a goalie, only minutes after Turtle McGuire tried to question how "comfortable" the broadcasting team was with his play, made a gigantic, point-saving save on Thomas "my eye injury makes it look like I'm wearing mascara" Vanek. We need our top players pulling off sick plays. And that was the case with seconds left in the third.
A few other things:
- feeling a little bad for Big Ville Leino. Not that bad, I guess. As the dude is getting PAID. Would hate to see him turn into the next Sheldon Souray, Michael Nylander, or Wade Redden in a couple years. He should feel free to go on a hot streak from now until the next time the Sabres cross our path.
- Mike Weber deserves an ass whomping. Just slyly drops his gloves and starts punching in a scrum. And then, after the linesmen don't intercede, Coburn finally drops his much later only to have Weber TURTLE?!? What a little bitch. If there actually was a code in the NHL he would have to answer for that. As it stands, The Code basically reads "do whatever you want and use anything to justify it."
- we've put in a patent on James van Riemsdyk's new one-foot fist pump goal celebration. So don't even think about it.
- Keith Jones - Love. Eddie O - Like. Mike Milbury and Pierre McGuire should go to Medieval Times and joust it out. The loser is bannished from all things hockey forever. So is the winner.
- and lastly, it's T-SHIRT THURSDAY (for real this time)!!!!! The Flyers host the Devils tonight. Get in your Hartnell picks in you, double backing sonsabitches.
Don't know what T-shirt Thursday is? Oh, I would have welcomed your spaceship from Mars had I known you were arriving this week. Here's the deal:
1. Every Thursday during the season (when the Flyers play) we're giving away one of our home brewed shirts found here in our gear shop.
2. You can win it
3. All you have to do is send an email to Flyersgoalscoredby@gmail.com, hit us in the comments, or tweet us with the name of whoever you think is going to score the first goal of that night's game for the Flyers.
Rules for all you hamsters out there:
- 1 entry per email address, 1 per commenter name, 1 per twitter handle (so you could enter 3 times)
- that's it.