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“View from the Philly Pressbox” – Flyers – Devils, Game 1

In Philadelphia Flyers on April 30, 2012 at 6:47 pm

In this addition of the “View from the Philly Pressbox” we take a look at Game 1 of the Round 2 matchup between the Flyers and the New Jersey Devils in the “Chase for Lord Stanley’s Cup”. In our preview we identified our keys to the series. We will review and analyze them and see if meeting these keys brought victory to the Flyers.

Following are the keys for the Flyers to win this series:

  • ·        Shoot the puck at Martin Brodeur, minimum 28 shots per game.
  • ·        Stay Healthy
  • ·        Special Teams
  • ·        Full team participation
  • ·        Ilya Bryzgalov

Shoot the puck at Martin Brodeur, minimum 28 shots per game – We were going to break this key point in to three separate points. The Flyers must shoot the puck at the future Hall of Famer, Brodeur. They cannot afford in get in to tight checking, close games with 15-20 shots per game or Brodeur can steal the series. The Devils have been very successful playing this style of hockey for years. The Flyers need to control the pace of the game by working end-to-end and getting the lead early in the games forcing the Devils out of their system. If the Flyers fall behind in the series as they did in Round 1, and throughout most of the season, they could find themselves in trouble. Get out of “the room” quick, and at full speed, and the Flyers will be in control.

Result: It didn’t look very good coming out of the locker room. The Flyers were flat, and the Devils were the team doing the peppering. The Flyers were outshot 15-6 in the 1st period. It looked like the heavy footed Flyers were falling in to the Devils trap. Ilya Bryzgalov held them in the game through the period and the Flyers trailed only 1-0. For the next two periods and overtime the Flyers dominated the game. They finished with 36 shots on Brodeur. Once they started peppering him he had problems, although, if not for several fantastic saves, the Flyers would’ve won big. We’ll give the Flyers the benefit of the doubt on the slow start in Game 1 as rust. We don’t expect to see the same in Game 2.

Stay Healthy – Just like the Pittsburgh series, this is expected to be very physical. The difference is that you won’t see the lack of discipline that you saw from the Penguins. The Flyers will be getting a healthy Nick Grossman back for Game 1. This will allow Peter Laviolette to spread the minutes among more defensemen, lightening the ice time of Braydon Coburn, Matt Carle and Kimmo Timonen. Each of these guys played a ton of minutes in the first series. James van Riemsdyk should continue to see more ice time as he gets his legs back under him playing in the last two games of the Pittsburgh series.

Another key addition to the Flyers lineup could be defenseman Andrej Mesazaros. There’s an outside chance that Mesazaros could play later in the series.

Result: This game was nowhere near as physical as any of the games in the Pittsburgh series. Both teams played disciplined hockey with no “dirty” penalties. Nick Grossman was back at full strength and played a solid game on the blue line logging 16:26 of ice time. Having Grossman back allowed Laviolette to spread the ice time on defense as we expected. Coburn logged the most time with 26:27 seconds and Andraes Lilja the least with 15:18 seconds. This is good balance among the six defenders that will help as the series continue on.

JVR was back with a vengeance. He was named the games second star but could’ve been the first. He logged 17:31 seconds of ice time, scored a goal, had a team high 5 shots and posted a +3 for the game. The return of JVR just adds to the depth and talent that the Flyers possess.

Mesazaros did not play in the gain but appears to be very close to being ready to return.

Special Teams – The Flyers special team work in Round 1 was devastating. They scored on 11 of 23 power play opportunities, a staggering 47.8%. They also added 3 shorthanded goals. The Penguins had no idea how to defense the Flyers special teams. We don’t expect them to maintain that pace against the Devils; however, we do expect them to be good again in Round 2. The Flyers have so many weapons, regardless of which group is on the ice, they will pressure the Devils throughout the series. The Devils scored 15 shorthanded goals during the regular season, while the Flyers had 6, so the Flyers cannot be reckless.

On defense, the Flyers must stay disciplined and out of the penalty box. The Devils have goal scorers. Ilya Kovalchuk led the Devils with 10 power play goals during the regular season, while David Clarkson and Patrik Elias added 8 each. Zach Parisi added 7. If the Flyers are shorthanded more than 3 times a game they will allow the Devils to stay in the series.

Result: Although the Flyers converted on just 1 of 6 chances, a goal by Giroux from Timonen and Hartnell to give them a 3-2 lead. They put constant pressure on the Devils and Brodeur and gained steam as the game went on.

Defensively, the Flyers did a great job of playing disciplined hockey and staying out of the penalty box. Our analysis said they couldn’t be in the box more than 3 times and they were in the box 3 times. They did give up a power play goal to Travis Zajac in the 2nd period on a very questionable hooking call on Carle. For the final 31:24 seconds of the game the Flyers were at full strength. An interesting statistic for the Flyers penalty kill is that the forwards that logged the most ice time were rookies Sean Couturier and Matt Read, both with 2:29 seconds.

Full Team Participation – The Flyers had 13 different players score goals in the Pittsburgh series. They were led by Claude Giroux with 6 and Danny Briere with 5. They also had 15 players on the score sheet with assists. Giroux led the way with 8, Jaromir Jagr added 6 and Jakub Voracek added 5. What these numbers indicate is contributions from every member of the team, regardless of the line they were playing on or what defensive pairing they were in. Only Eric Wellwood and Andres Lilja played in all six games and didn’t get credited with a point, however, both provided significant contributors.

Result:  Again, the Flyers got total team participation. Lavey mixed his lines so often it was hard to tell who was on the ice but they were all there. Briere scored two goals, Giroux one and JVR one. Jakob Voracek added two assists while Gustaffson, Timonen, Hartnell, and Carle added one each. There were major contributions from nearly everyone. Brayden Shenn saw the least ice time with only 9:44. Jagr was the one Flyer that seemed to struggle getting his legs and he saw less action later in the game as a result. Also playing a high speed outstanding game was the rookie Wellwood. He looked like the fastest man on the ice.

Ilya Bryzgalov –  Bryzgalov is not as bad as he looked at times in the Pittsburgh series. When the Flyers tightened their game Bryz played well. The Flyers are good enough on offense that Bryz doesn’t have to be tremendous every night; he just needs to be good. The Flyers won’t face an offensive team like the Penguins again in the East and Bryz’s game will improve accordingly. What the Flyers cannot afford is a meltdown by Bryz. If the Flyers will play tight, solid defense from the start of this series Bryz will play well.

Result: As the clock was rolling down below 10 minutes it looked like Bryz play in the 1st period was going to steal the game for the Flyers and then it happened, a soft goal that will lose your team the Stanley Cup. After the 1st period the Flyers played “lock-down” defense again, allowing only 11 shot on goal in the final 44:36 seconds of the game. Bryz just needed to make the saves he should make and he didn’t. Should the Flyers be concerned? The Flyers must continue their outstanding defensive work and keep the pressure off of Bryz until he gains confidence. He looked lost at times and that won’t win the cup. Bryz continues to be a work in progress.  

Prediction – If the Flyers accomplish these keys, especially continuing to pepper the 40 year old Brodeur with pucks, they’ll win the series in 5 games. If they allow the Devils to dictate the pace they could lose this series. We don’t expect that to happen. The Flyers have too many weapons, too much depth. They can match up Sean Couturier against Kovalchuk as they did against Evgeni Malkin. Couts showed he’s up to the challenge. Max Talbot brings stability any time he’s on the ice, regardless if he’s playing with the veterans or the rookies. The Giroux, Jagr, Scott Hartnell line will be solid. The Briere, Voracek, Wayne Simmonds line will also be good. Briere continues to up his game in the playoffs, as he always does. Rookies Brayden Shenn, Matt Read and Wellwood passed their first playoff tests with big contributions. As we stated earlier a healthy JVR is an advantage for the Flyers. Defensively, Coburn, Carle, Timonen, Lilja, Grossman and rookie Eric Gustaffson are solid. Gustaffson was a star in Game 6. Add Pavel Kubina for depth and the defense is solid.

As a result the Flyers are too strong and will win the series in 5 games!!!

Result: We hit the keys to the game right on the nose. The Flyers spotted the Devils a period and they could only come away with a 1-0 lead before the Flyers took over. Kovalchuk was a non factor due to Couturier but also due to, what appeared to be laziness. There’s no time for that if you’re a Devil. The Flyers need to continue to pepper Brodeur and play solid special teams. Our prediction hasn’t changed Flyers in 5 games!!!

“GOOD NIGHT and GOOD HOCKEY”…….Gene Hart

 

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“View from the Philly Pressbox” – Flyers-Devils – Preview

In Philadelphia Flyers on April 28, 2012 at 9:53 pm

In this addition of the “View from the Philly Pressbox” we take a look at the Round 2 matchup between the Flyers and the New Jersey Devils in the “Chase for Lord Stanley’s Cup”, and we can’t wait. As we did for the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins, by the way they’re off golfing, we’ll list out keys to the series and follow them through from game to game. We hit the first series on the nose with the keys, as well as our prediction of the Flyers in 6 games. We plan to do as well in the series.

Following are the keys for the Flyers to win this series:

  • ·        Shoot the puck at Martin Brodeur, minimum 28 shots per game.
  • ·        Stay Healthy
  • ·        Special Teams
  • ·        Full team participation
  • ·        Ilya Bryzgalov

 Shoot the puck at Martin Brodeur, minimum 28 shots per game – We were going to break this key point in to three separate points. The Flyers must shoot the puck at the future Hall of Famer, Brodeur. They cannot afford in get in to tight checking, close games with 15-20 shots per game or Brodeur can steal the series. The Devils have been very successful playing this style of hockey for years. The Flyers need to control the pace of the game by working end-to-end and getting the lead early in the games forcing the Devils out of their system. If the Flyers fall behind in the series as they did in Round 1, and throughout most of the season, they could find themselves in trouble. Get out of “the room” quick, and at full speed, and the Flyers will be in control.

Stay Healthy – Just like the Pittsburgh series, this is expected to be very physical. The difference is that you won’t see the lack of discipline that you saw from the Penguins. The Flyers will be getting a healthy Nick Grossman back for Game 1. This will allow Peter Laviolette to spread the minutes among more defensemen, lightening the ice time of Braydon Coburn, Matt Carle and Kimmo Timonen. Each of these guys played a ton of minutes in the first series. James Van Riemsdyk should continue to see more ice time as he gets his legs back under him playing in the last two games of the Pittsburgh series.

Another key addition to the Flyers lineup could be defenseman Andrej Mesazaros. There’s an outside chance that Mesazaros could play later in the series.

Special Teams – The Flyers special team work in Round 1 was devastating, they scored on 11 of 23 power play opportunities, a staggering 47.8%. They also added 3 shorthanded goals. The Penguins had no idea how to defense the Flyers special teams. We don’t expect them to maintain that pace against the Devils; however, we do expect them to be good again in Round 2. The Flyers have so many weapons, regardless of which group is on the ice, they will pressure the Devils throughout the series. The Devils scored 15 shorthanded goals during the regular season, while the Flyers had 6, so the Flyers cannot be reckless.

On defense, the Flyers must stay disciplined and out of the penalty box. The Devils have goal scorers. Ilya Kovalchuk led the Devils with 10 power play goals during the regular season, while David Clarkson and Patrik Elias added 8 each. Zach Parisi added 7. If the Flyers are shorthanded more than 3 times a game they will allow the Devils to stay in the series.

Full Team Participation – The Flyers had 13 different players score goals in the Pittsburgh series. They were led by Claude Giroux with 6 and Danny Briere with 5. They also had 15 players on the score sheet with assists. Giroux led the way with 8, Jaromir Jagr added 6 and Jakub Voracek added 5. What these numbers indicate is contributions from every member of the team, regardless of the line they were playing on or what defensive pairing they were in. Only Eric Wellwood and Andres Lilja played in all six games and didn’t get credited with a point, however, both provided significant contributors.

Ilya Bryzgalov –  Bryzgalov is not as bad as he looked at times in the Pittsburgh series. When the Flyers tightened their game Bryz played well. The Flyers are good enough on offense that Bryz doesn’t have to be tremendous every night; he just needs to be good. The Flyers won’t face an offensive team like the Penguins again in the East and Bryz’s game will improve accordingly. What the Flyers cannot afford is a meltdown by Bryz. If the Flyers will play tight, solid defense from the start of this series Bryz will play well.

Prediction – If the Flyers accomplish these keys, especially continuing to pepper the 40 year old Brodeur with pucks, they’ll win the series in 5 games. If they allow the Devils to dictate the pace they could lose this series. We don’t expect that to happen. The Flyers have too many weapons, too much depth. They can match up Sean Couturier against Kovalchuk as they did against Evgeni Malkin. Couts showed he’s up to the challenge. Max Talbot brings stability any time he’s on the ice, regardless if he’s playing with the veterans or the rookies. The Giroux, Jagr, Scott Hartnell line will be solid. The Briere, Voracek, Wayne Simmonds line will also be good. Briere continues to up his game in the playoffs, as he always does. Rookies Brayden Shenn, Matt Read and Wellwood passed their first playoff tests with big contributions. As we stated earlier a healthy JVR is an advantage for the Flyers. Defensively, Coburn, Carle, Timonen, Lilja, Grossman and rookie Eric Gustaffson are solid. Gustaffson was a star in Game 6. Add Pavel Kubina for depth and the defense is solid.

As a result the Flyers are too strong and will win the series in 5 games!!!

 “GOOD NIGHT and GOOD HOCKEY”…….Gene Hart

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Eagles Profile – Fletcher Cox – 1st Round Draft Pick

In Philadelphia Eagles on April 27, 2012 at 9:38 am

The 1st Round of the NFL draft is complete and the Philadelphia Eagles have their guy, Fletcher Cox, defensive tackle, Mississippi State, trading up from the #15 spot to the #12 spot, in a trade with Seattle, in order to select him. Cox was considered the top ranked defensive tackle in the draft and the Eagles were happy to get the 6’4”, 296lb, 21 year old.

Eagles defensive line coach Jim Washburn said, “I’ve coached Fletcher Cox a million times. I have coached Southern black kids my whole life, that’s what I do. We hit it off really well. We went out to lunch at the Veranda Restaurant in Starkville. We ate well, and we talked about deer hunting and guns for two hours and might have talked football for 15 minutes. He’s a shy, country kid.” Head Coach Andy Reid added, “We had targeted him all along but we thought he’d go in the first six or seven picks. Once he started to drop we got excited and went up to get him. We love his speed and athleticism — you just don’t see a big guy move like he does — and we like his flexibility, he can play on the outside as well. He’s like Cullen Jenkins in that way. He’s young and he’s a very intelligent kid. He’s built for our style of defense.” The Eagles expect Cox to step in and play in their defensive line rotation immediately, though Washburn was quick to point out, “Fletcher is a better prospect than a player at this point.”

How did Cox feel about joining the Eagles? “I was, like, excited to become an Eagle, like, really excited. I am excited to get back to football. I love the defensive scheme the Eagles play and it will be a pleasure to play on a front line under Coach Washburn.” “We went to lunch, he worked me out and we had a good time,” “He said I was a fast learner and he liked the way I learned things really quick and he wanted to coach me at the next level. I prayed and asked God where he wanted me to be and I knew it’d be great to play for the Eagles.” Reid added, “Fletcher is a better prospect than a player at this point.”

When asked, “Why should Philadelphia be excited about me?”  Cox said, “I’m a guy with great heart, hard-working, I never stop. I play 100 miles an hour. I am ready to compete. I want to get in and learn the defense.” Washburn added, “He’s such a good athlete, he was a unanimous pick upstairs in the room. He’s the biggest 296-pound athlete I’ve ever seen. He’s going to jump in right away and start playing. No one at Mississippi State — no one – had a bad word to say about him.”

If first impressions mean anything we like everything we’ve seen and heard about Fletcher Cox!!!

 Following is Rob Rang’s overview and analysis of Cox for CBSSport.com.

Overview:

Cox is naturally big, plays bigger and is expected grow even more in size and ability. A third-year junior, Cox was the only player from Mississippi State to be named to All-SEC first team after he collected 56 tackles and five sacks last season. He works hard from kickoff until the final whistle, setting a pace for teammates and wearing down opponents. He showed very good explosion in Combine testing. The light-footed Cox played both defense end and defensive tackle and his versatility will be an asset in the NFL, where scouts think he is similar to San Diego’s Corey Luiget, an 18th overall pick out of Illinois last year. Cox was one of five Bulldogs suspended for the 2011season opener against Memphis for breaking team rules, but he returned to the field with a vengeance and earned praise from his coaches.

Analysis:

Pass rush: Good quickness off the snap. Attacks gaps, getting skinny to slip past interior linemen when lining up as a defensive tackle. Enough speed to challenge the shoulders of strong-side tackles when lining up as a defensive end. Does not possess the explosiveness and flexibility to turn the corner efficiently, however, limiting his pass rush potential on the outside. Developing pass rush technique, including a swim move, but does not use this often enough. Relies almost exclusively on his bull rush. Generates an explosive pop to knock his opponent back onto his heels. Possesses the lateral agility to take advantage of the unbalanced offensive lineman to run around him and collapse the pocket. Run defense: Good size and power,

Though Cox struggles with leverage, at times. Can be blown off the ball when double-teamed as he currently lacks prototypical width and thickness in his lower body for an interior defender. Cox does appear to have the frame to add an additional 10-15 pounds. Good upper-body strength and quick hands to disengage from the one-on-one block. Penetrates gaps and locates the football quickly. Slides off of blocks to latch onto ball carriers as they attempt to run by. Alert defender who recognizes the trap block and possesses enough quickness to beat his opponent to the spot. Lacks the sustained speed to chase down ball carriers, but puts good effort into his lateral pursuit. Explosion: Varies his burst off the snap, but does not possess true explosiveness in his get-off. Among his best assets, however, is his strong upper body. Attacks blockers with an explosive pop, which allows him to disengage quickly. Strength: Naturally strong man who is still learning to use his power to his advantage. Good to very good upper-body strength and leg drive to push his opponent deep into the pocket. Good strength as a drag-down tackler, as well. Does negate his own strength, on occasion, due to a high pad level. Tackling: High effort player who locates the football and pursues laterally and downfield. An effective drag-down tackler due to his upper-body strength. Surprisingly light on his feet showing an ability to adjust to elusive ball carriers in close quarters. Closes quickly and wraps up well, but isn’t an explosive hitter likely to knock the ball free. Has forced just two fumbles in three seasons of action. Intangibles: Naturally large man with plenty of room for additional growth. Appears to be just scratching the surface of his physical potential, though he has three years of starting experience in the SEC. Blocked four kicks from 2009-11. Was suspended for the 2011 season-opener (Memphis), along with four other Bulldogs, for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

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The Word of the Day – GREATNESS – Chesterton

In The Word of the Day on April 27, 2012 at 7:59 am

GREATNESS

 

“There is a great man who makes every man feel small. But the real great man is the man who makes every man feel great”

 

G.K. Chesterton

 

Top 100 NHL Players – Any Flyers? Let the Debate Begin!!!

In Philadelphia Flyers on April 26, 2012 at 2:45 pm

While waiting for the Flyers 2nd round playoff opponent, and waiting on The Fightin’s to get back home, or at least to the Eastern Time zone and the 76ers to start the playoffs, oopps, did we forget the NFL draft tonight, we found some time to find a hockey article that we found to be very interesting.

On April 21, Bleacher Report posted an article, credited to Andre Khatchaturian, listing the 100 Best Players in the NHL – Right Now. This post was especially interesting coming off the Flyers recent dismantling of the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games. We’re not going to go through the entire list of 100 names with you; however, we’re going to tell you where the Flyers ended up on the list as well as the final seventeen players. So without any further ado hockey fans here you go:

# 94 Matt Carle

#83 for ole time sake – Mike Richards

#76 Scott Hartnell

#48 Chris Pronger – Not sure I get that one!!

Take a deep breath and ask yourself how you like the list so far.

#17 Claude Giroux – That’s right our Claude Giroux. The Flyer that just put the team on his back and carried them to the playoff victory.

#16 Tim Thomas

#15 Alex Ovechkin

#14 Jaraslav Halak

#13 Corey Perry

#12 Kris Letang

#11 Ilya Kovalchuk

#10 Henrik Lundqvist

#9 Jonathan Quick

#8 Pavel Datsyuk

#7 Shea Weber

#6 Daniel Sedin

Well, what do you think so far? Who’s missing from the list? What order should they be in?

Here ya go!!!

#5 Henrik Sedin

#4 Zdeno Chara

#3 Steven Stamkos

#2 Evgeni Malkin

#1 Sidney Crosby

There you have one man’s opinion.  I can’t say I disagree more.

WHAT DO YOU THINK????

 

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The Word of the Day – VICTORY – Emerson

In The Word of the Day on April 26, 2012 at 8:39 am

VICTORY

“Men talk as if victory were something fortunate. Work is victory”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

The Word of the Day – DOUBT – Roux

In The Word of the Day on April 25, 2012 at 10:20 am

DOUBT

“When unhappy, one doubts everything; when happy, one doubts nothing”

Joseph Roux

     

The Word of the Day – NEW BEGINNING

In The Word of the Day on April 24, 2012 at 7:27 am

NEW BEGINNING

“If you find yourself waiting endlessly for a happy ending, maybe it’s time for a new beginning”
 
Anonymous

“View from the Philly Pressbox” – Flyers-Penguins, Game 6, The Clincher

In Philadelphia Flyers on April 23, 2012 at 5:35 pm

In today’s “View from the Philly Pressbox” we look at the Flyers dominating, 5-1, series closeout, victory over the Penguins in Game 6 of the 1st Round at the Wells Fargo Center, Sunday afternoon.

In our series preview we identified the four keys for the Flyers to win the series and they didn’t change throughout the series.

  • ·        Don’t fall behind early in games
  • ·        Ilya Bryzgalov
  • ·        Staying out of the penalty box
  • ·        Stay healthy

Don’t fall behind early in games. The team that scored first in the first five games of the series had lost the game. Claude Giroux and the Flyers would have none of that in Game 6. Giroux started the game with a bone crushing hit on Sidney Crosby, 5 seconds in to the game, that set the tone. Giroux completed his shift by shooting a laser shot, just inside the pipe at the :32 second mark. The route was on! The Flyers fought off a Danny Brier high sticking penalty at the 2:08 mark and then put their lethal power plant to work. With Matt Cooke off for interference, Scott Hartnell poked a goal past Marc-Andre Fleury to make it 2-0. Giroux and Jakub Voracek added assists at the 13:01 mark. The period ended with 10 shots for the Flyers and 9 for the Penguins. The Penguins were buzzing throughout the period but it was very clear from the start of the game that there would be no lead change in this game. The Flyers were in a defensive lock-down mode from the drop of the fist puck.  This was the type of period that we had been expecting all series long.

Ilya Bryzgalov – Bryzgalov stopped 30 of 31 shots in the game and never wavered. He played well. The only goal he allowed was a screen shot by Evgeni Malkin that he had little chance of stopping. Bryz, along an outstanding team defensive effort, never wavered throughout the game. He was solid.

This was an interesting series for goaltenders. Bryz, and the Flyers, allowed 26 goals, while Fleury, and the Penguins, allowed 30 goals. Bryzgalov and Fleury were both under fire in this series and both replaced during the series once, but we know that these are both quality goalies. If ever you could say that hockey is a “team” game that has to be played by everyone on the ice, it was this series. When the total team effort was put in play, by the Penguins in Game 5 and the Flyers in Game 6, the goalies showed their stuff.

Stay Healthy – James Van Riemsdyk was back in the lineup again for the second straight game after missing a good part of the season with various injuries.  JVR saw only 6:46 seconds of ice time in his second game back. His return to full action is still a work in progress.

Nick Grossman was unable to play again due to an “upper body injury”. Grossman has been a big part of the defense down the stretch and a very important member of the blue liners. However, Grossman being out may have been a blessing in disguise for the Flyers. With Grossman out, Peter Laviolette didn’t have to make a decision regarding which defenseman to scratch. That left rookie Eric Gustaffson in the lineup. Gus responded with his first career playoff goal, logged the third most minutes of any defenseman, 22:09, blocked a team high seven shots and tallied a +3 for the game. Gustaffson’s ability to step in and play well against Malkin and Sidney Crosby allowed the ice time to be spread out among Braydon Coburn, Matt Carle, Kimmo Timonen and Andreas Lilja more evenly. Pavel Kubina saw only 4:31 second of ice time. Tired players make mistakes and the Flyers couldn’t afford mistakes on the back end in this game.

With the Flyers earning a few days rest, awaiting their next opponent, there will be a better chance of getting Grossman back for Round 2. Also, more time may allow the Flyers to get Andrej Meszaros back from injury as well. It will be a big boost to get both of these guys back. Lavey could have tough, but good, decisions to make.

Staying out of the penalty box will be critical. The Flyers were whistled for five minor penalties in the game, with one resulting in the Malkin goal. Moving forward in the playoffs, the Flyers must remain disciplined and stay out of the box. Five penalties, not many in a regular season game, are too many in a playoff game. The Penguins were charged with three minor penalties, resulting in one Flyer power play goal. On the flip side, the Flyers penalty kill combinations were excellent. Forwards Max Talbot, Giroux and Matt Read, along with defenseman Coburn, Carle and Timonen were all over the ice, smothering the Penguins power play.

Special Teams is always critical in the playoffs. The Flyers held the advantage in 5 of the 6 games of the series, including Game 6. For the series, the Flyers scored on 11 of 23 power play opportunities, an unbelievable 47.8%. The league average is slightly above 20%. They added 3 shorthanded goals as well.

Following the Game 5 loss in Pittsburgh, Scott Hartnell stated, “Five-on-five, we got badly outplayed, badly outscored; now we’ve got to regroup.” The Flyers did exactly that, scoring three even strength goals as well as an empty net goal. Just as importantly, the Flyers did not allow a Penguins an even strength goal. They held Crosby to only three shots and a -3 for the game. Crosby was held to zero points in the last two games of the series. Malkin managed a total of six shots and a -1 while logging the most ice time of any forward in the game, 27:43.

The reason for the Flyers success in Game 6 was a total team lock down defense that started with the first dropped puck. The Flyers blocked a total of 40 shots to go along with Bryzgalov’s 30 saves. The fore-checking and back-checking was outstanding. Sean Couturier’s work on Malkin was tremendous throughout the series. Malkin did score three goals in the series but he earned them. His frustration with Couturier was evident early in the series and got worse, or better depending on who you were rooting for, as the series went on. It was an outstanding effort by the rookie.

Our prediction was the Flyers in 6 games. We hit it right on the nose. I can’t say it happened anywhere close to how we expected it but the result is the same. We expected to see six games played like the last two. The Penguins took themselves out of the series early by deciding that hitting, clean and dirty, was more important than scoring goals. Their early series antics cost them the first three games and ultimately the series. It was also interesting the response from Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, “I want to congratulate the Flyers organization on the series win but, I really can’t wish them good luck though.”  That classless attitude fom the coach is the same one that his team brought to the series and the same one they’ll carry with them as the losing team. Leadership starts at the top and this is a good indication of the Penguins leadership.

While the Penguins were suffering from leadership problems the Flyers leadership was just starting to show its face in the name of Claude Giroux. Peter Laviolette said this following the game about Giroux,  “When the best player in the world comes up to you and says, ‘I don’t know who you’re planning on starting, but I want that first shift,’ that says everything you need to know about Claude Giroux right there.” He added, “His game tonight was monstrous. He was so adamant he wanted that first shift. He wanted to make a statement. You see the skill, but sometimes you don’t hear that, you don’t know that, you don’t get that feel for him. Or maybe you do, but we do. For him to come up and say that, that speaks volumes for him – not just as a player but as a person.” Briere added, “About 10 seconds before they dropped the puck, he came over and told me, ‘Watch the first shift. He set the tone. That first shift, that was beautiful to see. That’s the sign of a great leader.” However the most telling compliment may have come from Timonen who stated, “We talked about getting off to a good start. He got us off to a great start. To me, he’s the best player in the league right now.”

Lastly, it’s tough to talk about individual play in a series like this because you will always miss guys that played well, however, we would be remiss to not talk about the goal scoring of Briere, 5 goals, the overall play of Jaromir Jagr, Hartnell, Talbot and the rookies, Couturier, Read, Brayden Shenn, an empty net goal, and Eric Wellwood. Most importantly was the play of Coburn and Carle throughout the series. They logged between 25 and 30 a game, every game of the series. They were a wall on the ice and had very few breakdowns while keeping the high powered Penguins in check. Hats off to them for an outstanding series!!

Finally, hats off to the Flyers fans that had “The Well” rocking every game from the start of the game to the finish. Kate Smith and Lauren Hart can do that to you if you need a boost.

Bring on the next opponent, the Penguins are history, whoever they are! The Flyers will be ready!!

 As Gene Hart would say” GOOD NIGHT and GOOD HOCKEY”

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The Word of the Day – PERSISTENCE – Hill

In The Word of the Day on April 23, 2012 at 9:41 am

PERSISTENCE

“What we do not see, what most of us never suspect of existing, is the silent but irresistible power which comes to the rescue of those who fight on in the face of discouragement”

 

Napoleon Hill

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