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Posts Tagged ‘Ilya Bryzgalov’

FLYERS “STAY OR GO” FAN VOTE

In Philadelphia Flyers on May 30, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Recently Philly.com completed their end of season fan voting for the Philadelphia Flyers. This end of year tradition allows fans to vote which individual players should “stay” or “go” before next season. I always enjoy these because only the rabid fans bother to vote. Presently the voting is taking place for the 76ers so you can log on and cast your votes. When the Eagles voting was completed in January we broke down the results and shared them with you. Following is the link to that article. https://phillypressbox.wordpress.com/2012/01/08/eagles-stay-or-go-fan-vote/ 

Here’s how it works. you go on the site and  Once you’ve voted on the player the current vote result is shown.  There have been between 5000 votes cast so far, (you don’t have to vote for every player). Again, just like with the Eagles we found the results very surprising. Here’s the breakdown.

There were a total of 26 players listed plus 3 goalies, head coach Peter Laviolette and General Manager Paul Holmgren. Of the 26 “position” players 16 were forwards and 10 were defensmen. Using 50% “stay” versus 50% “go” here is the list of forwards that the Flyers fans feel need to “go” before next season. With only 7.7% of the voters voting “stay” Jody Shelley. Shelley was followed by Tom Sestito with 39.8% voting for him to stay. It seems a little unfair for Sestiton when most fans don’t know who he is. The only other forward with less than 50% of the votes, at 49.2% is James van Reisdyke.  Those are three forwards that the fans want to get rid of to get the team over the top.

We also found it interesting which order the fans picked their favorite players that they want to stay. Guess what? Claude Giroux was not on top of the list. Follewing is the list with the percentage of “stay” votes, forwards only. Sean Couturier, 97.7%, Giroux, 97.4%, Branyden Shenn, 94.3%, Max Talbot, 94.2%, Matt Read, 92.9%, Wayne Simmonds, 90.1% Jakub Voracek, 91.0%, Eric Wellwood, 88.3%, Danny Briere, 83.4%, Scott Hartnell, 83.4%, Zac Rinaldo, 59.9%, Harry Zolnierczyk, 56.3% and Jaromir Jagr, 54.3%.

There you have it for the offense. What do you think? I’m actually pretty surprised.

On the blue line there 10 players to vote on and again we were somewhat surprised. The fans have voted to unload four of the 10. The lowest amount of stay votes was Andreas Lilja with 18.2%. He was followed by Pavel Kubina with 18.4%, Matt Carle at 34.0% and Chris Pronger at 42.2%. We’re really surprised that Carle is on this list. He logged the second most minutes by a defenseman in the playoffs and although he had his moments generally played fairly well. For the second straight season Carle has played in every game. He scored 4 goals and added 34 assists with a +4 for the regular season and added 2 goals and 4 assists with a -3 in the playoffs. 

The results on who the fans wanted to “stay” on defense isn’t quite so surprising. Nicklas Grossman led the way with 94.3% of the vote. He was followed by Andrej Meszaros, 91.6%, Braydon Coburn, 91.5%, Eric Gustaffson, 86.9%, Marc-Andre Bourdon, 76.9% and Kimmo Timonen, 71.6.

The take away from this list appears to be that the fans want out with the older players, Lilja is 36 years old, Kubina is 35, Pronger is 37 and injured and Timonen is now 37. As we stated earlier the only surprise is Carle.

That brings us to the goaltenders. There were three to chose from. We’re not sure how Michael Leighton made the list but he did. We can’t say we’re shocked but somewhat surprised by the results. The fans pretty much want to get rid of all of the goalies. Sergei Bobrovski is the only one that made the cut with just 50.4% of the voters wanting him to “stay”. Ilya Bryzgalov received 47.0% and Leighton 19.7%.

The interesting point on the goaltenders is that Bryzgalov kept the Flyers in the playoffs for the most part. He did allow some bad goals in the high-flying Pittsburgh series but he kept the Flyers in the Devils series in spite of the end result. Without Bryzgalov’s outstanding play it would’ve been far worse.

That brings us to the staff, Laviolette and Holmgren. Both received the votes from the fans to “stay”. Holmgren received 87.8% and Lavy 85.4%. Obviously the fans were happy with them.

So there you have it Flyers fans, you have spoken. If it were up to the fans the 2013 team will be without JVR, Shelley, Sestito, Pronger, Carle, Lilja, Kubina, Leighton and Bryzgalov. Who will replace these guys and what will the Flyers do to upgrade for the next run for the cup?

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“View from the Philly Pressbox” – Flyers-Devils, Game 5

In Philadelphia Flyers on May 11, 2012 at 9:16 pm

In this addition of the “View from the Philly Pressbox” we take a look at Game 5 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 these keys and how they affected the outcome of the game.

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: For the second time in the series the Flyers reached our mark of 28 shots on goal, in regulation time,  on Brodeur. Unfortunetly it was too little too late. Overall the Flyers played more aggressive, won a few more battles and generated a few more chances, but never threatened in the way we’ve become accustomed to. As far as Brodeur, the Devils made the future Hall of Famers job easy throughout the series. Other than Game 1 he was not challenged much. Obviously, he’s too good to not continue to shoot pucks at him and make him work.

Series Impact Result – ADVANTAGE DEVILS

Stay Healthy – 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:  The Flyers entered the game as healthy as you can at this point in the season.  Sean Couturier saw his regular amount of ice time, although he didn’t spend as much time on the penalty kill as he normally does after his injury in Game 3. Andreas Mesazaros made his long awaited return, logging 19:26 seconds of ice time, and unfortunately, it wasn’t pretty. Mesazaros looked slow against the fast Devils and continually turned the puck over. Granted this was a difficult situation to return to the lineup and be expected to be a major contributor after sitting out for such a long period of time but Meszaros did not answer the call.

Series Impact Result – NONE

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: The Flyers had only one power play opportunity in the game and only three in the last two games. The Devils continued to play well-disciplined, solid hockey. As we said throughout the series, the Flyers needed to win the series in 5-on-5 situations and they couldn’t do it. For the series the Flyers were 3-19 on the power play, 15.8%.

Defensively, the Flyers were called for 4 minor penalties and the Devils converted one of them, that ended the season, at the 15:00 mark of the 3rd period when Kovalchuk rifled a shot passed Bryzgalov. The Flyers had survived two 2nd period penalties on Hartnell and Zac Rinaldo but couldn’t overcome the stupid holding penaly by van Reismdyk. The Flyers were fighting for their life, trailing only 2-1 with 5:00 remaining in the game, when JVR grabbed a Devil while on the way to the bench for no reason and then looked confused that the penalty was called. It was a stupid play and the resuting power play goal ended any chance that the Flyers had. The Devils finished the series 4-18 on the power play, 22.2%.

Series Impact Result – ADVANTAGE DEVILS

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:  The Flyers came out and played hard but again had no answers for the Devils. Rinaldo provided some much needed energy, although, it was just a matter of time until he was called for a penalty. He led the team with 6 hits in only 8:43 of ice team. The lose of Giroux may have hurt as far as needing a big playmaker, however, he was pretty much a non-factor throughout the series. Overall the Flyers had 8 players contribute goals. Briere was the leader with 3 and Giroux with 2. They also had 12 different players contribute assists with Vorucek leading the team with 3.

Series Impact Result – ADVANTAGE DEVILS

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: After getting hit with 31 shots in Game 3, Bryz faced 43 more in Game 4 and another 30 in Game 5, 23 in the first two periods. Bryz played well overall, although his huge blunder that allowed David Clarkson’s unassisted goal, proved to be the game winner. A monumental error! For the entire series Bryz was the Flyers best player. If he hadn’t played so well, most of the time, the series would’ve been even uglier than it was. Not only would the Flyers have not scored much they would’ve been blown out on the other end. Bryz still has a lot of work ahead of him in order to be the consistent goaltender the Flyers need to win the cup.

Series Impact Result – ADVANTAGE DEVILS

Prediction – Well our prediction was dead wrong. I would’ve never thought that any team could dominate the Flyers over a series the way the Devils did. The Devils beat them in every phase of the game. Hats off to them! The Flyers lacked continuity in every game. Their lines never seemed to mesh and their defensive pairings struggled the entire series with turnovers and getting the puck out of the zone. There was never a game where the team was in cinque and passing from tape-to-tape. The passes always seemed a little ahead or a little behind or jumped over somebody’s stick rather than being controlled. The most disappointing part of the series is that the Flyers either never adjusted or the Devils were just that good. That falls on Laviolette. He’s an intense guy and a tireless worker as a head coach but he didn’t get the job done in this series. When you’re team gets beat the same way night after night as the head coach you must figure out a way to adjuest, that didn’t happen.

There’s an old saying attributed to Joe Paterno that says, “you’re never as good as you think you are when you win and you’re never as bad as you think you are when you lose”. Thatpretty much sums up the Flyers two playoff series. Hopes were so high after the Pittsburgh series that the Flyers were so good and so low after this series because they played so bad. In reality they’re probably somewhere in the middle.

So until next season – “GOOD NIGHT and GOOD HOCKEY”…….Gene Hart

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“View from the Philly Pressbox” – Flyers-Devils, Game 4

In Philadelphia Flyers on May 7, 2012 at 7:15 pm

In this addition of the “View from the Philly Pressbox” we take a look at Game 4 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 these keys and how they affected the outcome of the game.

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: The Flyers offensive, well and defensive, effort in Game 4 was an embarrassment. They managed only 22 total shots on Brodeur, 7 in the 1st period, 5 in the 2nd period and 10 in the 3rd period. The Flyers not only continued to struggle against the Devils tight checking, they actually seemed to have gotten worse. They couldn’t get the puck out of their own zone to create offensive chances and when they did they were being beaten along the boards on a continuous basis. Several Flyers appeared to get out muscled on a regular basis, one being Eric Gustaffson. He has been pushed around in the last two games in a bad way. Not to single out the rookie, Brayden Coburn, Matt Carle, Nick Grossman and Kimmo Timonen all had their problems with turnovers. Honestly, it looked like the Devils were on the power play the entire game. The Flyers have only managed 28 shots in a game in this series one time in regulation, Game 1, and they won the game. Martin Brodeur may be the greatest goalie to have ever played the game and you won’t beat him, even at 40 years old if you don’t consistently put pressure on him by shooting the puck.

Stay Healthy – 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:  Sean Couturier was deemed ready to go after the morning skate. This appeared to be good news for the Flyers especially in the penalty kill area. As it turned out Couturier saw only 7:08 of total ice time for the game. Only Eric Wellwood played less. If Couturier couldn’t go he shouldn’t have played. If he could go he should’ve been on the ice more. Max Talbot, Claude Giroux and Matt Read were the forwards used mostly on the penalty kill and they did a nice job with Giroux scoring with the assist from Talbot.

There was still no Andreas Mesazaros siting. With possibly only one game left in the series it may be best not to risk Mesazaros at all during this 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.

Result: The Flyers only had two power play opportunities and scored on one of them, Scott Hartnell from Giroux and Timonen for the first goal of the game. The Devils would not allow themselves to be baited in to penalties while playing well-disciplined, solid hockey. The Flyers relied heavily on the power play in the run-and-shoot series with the Penguins but the Devils would have none of that. To beat the Devils it needed to be done 5 on 5 and the Flyers have not been up to the task. The 1-2 power play in Game 4 makes the Flyers 3-18, 16.7%.

Defensively, the Flyers frustration and lack of discipline made them look like the Penguins. The goalie interference against Hartnell was a weak call, at best. The Giroux penalty, for hitting Danius Zubrus with a deliberate shot to the head, was uncalled for, and has resulted in a one game suspension. It’s the same garbage that Flyer fans got all over the Penguins for. Giroux is much to good of a player to resort to that. Overall, the Flyers were called for 5 minor penalties with Petr Sykora converting one of them, at the 15:14 mark of the 1st period, that brought the Devils, and their fans, back in to the game. The last Flyers penalty on Timonen with only 3:36 remaining in the game and trailing by a goal was another crusher. It was nothing more than a tired penalty by Timonen, who got beat and had to hang on and hope the referee didn’t make the call. He did. The Flyers could not afford to be shorthanded as the game clock was running down.  The Devils are now 3-14 on the power play, 21.4%. At the end of the night, being shorthanded 5 times against a team that commits just 2 penalties will get you beat.

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:  The Flyers are in big trouble. Their overall work ethic, hustle and determination are being questioned. That is the ultimate insult to an athlete. We don’t think that the hustle is a problem as much as not winning any battles. The Devils seem to always have five players in the Flyers offensive zone against three Flyers and when the puck goes back to the blue line the Flyers defense is retreating rather than forcing the play back in to the offensive zone. The Devils are breaking out and creating odd man rushes against the two defensemen. There seems to be a great deal of uncertainty among the defensemen on what to do, push forward or drop back. As we stated after Game 3, we’re not big on constant changing and mixing up of the lines looking for something that will click. Although no one has been a standout the lack of continuity seems to be hurting the Flyers.

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: After getting hit with 31 shots in Game 3, Bryz faced 43 more in Game 4. The Devils came out flying again and fired 16 shots in the 1st period and 16 more in the 2nd. Bryz kept the Flyers in the game with the Devils leading just 3-2 after two periods but being out shot 32-12. Bryz continued to hold down the fort in the 3rd period while facing another 11 shots without giving up a goal. Due to Bryzgalov’s play the Flyers actually had a chance to tie the game, and possibly win it, until Zubrus scored his empty net goal with :45 remaining in the game. Bryzgalov takes none of the blame for this lose, Without him playing as well as he did the Devils could’ve won this one by a touchdown.

Prediction – Well, we will never pick the Flyers to lose until the last second ticks off the clock of the final game but it sure doesn’t look good. The one game suspension to Giroux will only make the upward climb even more difficult.  Other than the play of Bryzgalov there isn’t much good to say about this series. We expected a much better overall effort from the Flyers. We expected to see game by game improvements to attack and counterattack the opposition and we haven’t seen any of that. Have the Flyers been out coached or just outplayed, or both? We expected another great series from Giroux and we haven’t seen much.

To say we’re disappointed is putting it mildly. We have to take our hats off to the Devils for dominating in every facet of the game and series. With that said, the series is not over and we’ll get to see what this Flyer team is really made of. Will they bounce back and win Game 5 to play another day or will they come out and be frustrated goons running at players and spending the game in the penalty box?

Our prediction is still that the Flyers will win the series in seven games. Am I dreaming?

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

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“View from the Philly Pressbox” – Flyers-Devils, Game 3

In Philadelphia Flyers on May 6, 2012 at 10:17 am

In this addition of the “View from the Philly Pressbox” we take a look at Game 3 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 these keys and how they affected the outcome of the game.

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: The Flyers  continue to struggle against the Devils tight checking. They are being beatin in the battles along the boards on a continuous basis, as a result they are not getting the shots on Brodeur. In Game 3, the Flyers managed 28 shots, but it took them nearly four periods to get them. At the end of regulation they had only 22 shots, with just 6 coming in the 3rd period when they needed an offensive push. Obviously, this isn’t good enough  to beat Brodeur. Lastly, the Flyers seem to have reverted back to the old “dump and chase” style of years gone by. Even when they control the puck in their own zone they’re able to eat up time but not generate shots. Credit goes to the Devils defense and shot blocking, however, for the Flyers to win this series they need to solve the Devils and get their shots on Brodeur. 

Stay Healthy – 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:  We have waited to post this article to provide the latest update on Sean Couturier, and it doesn’t look good. As of Sunday morning it seems doubtful that the standout, rookie center of the checking line, will not be ready to go. This will be a huge lose for the Flyers. Couturier had done a good job on Ilya Kovalchuk in the first two games. Once Couturier left Game 3, Kovulchuk responded with a goal and two assists. Couturiers replacement will likely be the penalty machine, Zac Rinaldo. Rinaldo brings energy that may help in other areas, but he does not bring a defensive game and cannot hurt the team with needless or over aggressive penalties.

It does not appear that Andreas Mesazaros is ready to play yet, although all indication are he is getting closer to returning. The Flyers have been mum on his 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: The Flyers were 1-5 on the power play in Game 3 and are now 2-16 for the series. The Flyers brought a scorching hot power play in to this series and now that strength has become a weakness. The Flyers did get on the board first with a Brayden Shenn power play goal at 6:08 of the 1st period with assists to Briere and Jagr. The Flyers had two golden power play opportunities in overtime but couldn’t get the job done. Obviously, to extend the series the Flyers need to straighten out the power play, and quick.

Defensively, the Flyers did a great job of staying out of the penalty box. They were only whistled for two minor penalties. Unfortunetly, one of those led to a power play goal by Patrik Elias that tied the score 1-1 in the 1st period, 20 seconds later Kovalchuk scored and the entire complexion of the game changed. The Devils are now 2-9 on the power play. Overall, the Flyers are doing a good job in this area.

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:  The Flyers are now struggling to get any participation  they seem out of cinque in nearly all facets of the game. Lavy has made the decision to continue to change and mix up his lines looking for something that will click. We aren’t a believer in this unless nothing else works. The Flyers seem to be trying to find match ups with the Devils instead of forcing the Devils to find match ups for the Flyers. The lack of continuity seems to be hurting the Flyers.

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: Bryzgalov played well in Game 3. He faced 31 shots in all, 1 in the 1st period when the Flyers were on their heels and he held his ground. The power play goal by Elias and Kovalchuk being left alone coming down the slot were unstoppable. Entering the series it seemed that Bryzgalov’s inconsistent play would be critical, as it’s turned out the Flyers getting beat in battles on the boards has been the story of series. Bryz may still need to steal a game before the series is over.  

Prediction – Obviously we were not right on our prediction of the Flyers in 5 games. We do feel they must accomplish the keys that were identified in order to win. Our biggest surprise in the series is the Flyers inability to win battles. Toughness has always been a Flyers trademark and they need to get it back. They must get more shots on Brodeur if they’re to win this series. We’re believers that Game 3 is alway the most critical game of a series because it’s often the swing game as this one was. Advantage Devils. For the Flyers, obviously, Game 4 is the “must” game.  Our feeling is that the Flyers will respond with a big Game 4 that will put them back even and gain the home ice advantage back.

It was easy to think the Flyers were going to dominate this series after the offensive fireworks in the Pittsburgh series. We can all agree that the Flyers have not adjusted to this tight checking series very quickly, yet Game 3 could’ve gone either way and the Flyers could very well be ahead 2-1 rather than behind 2-1. The Flyers must dictate the pace of the game and get more than a one goal lead that they can hold on to. Lastly, if Couturier can not go they will need someone, likely Read or Giroux, to step up and shutdown  Kovalcuk. We expect big efforts from the veteran leaders, Briere, Hartnell, Jagr, Timonen and Coburn tonight and for the Flyers to win.

Our prediction is still that the Flyers will win the series but it will take seven games with none more important than tonight.

 

“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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“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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“View from the Philly Pressbox” – Flyers-Penguins, Game 5

In Philadelphia Flyers on April 21, 2012 at 6:29 pm

In today’s “View from the Philly Pressbox” we look at the Penguins, 3-2, closely played, Game 5 of the 1st Round series. The Flyers now lead the series 3-2 as the series comes back to the Wells Fargo Center for a Sunday noon game.

In our series preview we identified the four keys for the Flyers to win the series and they haven’t changed.

  • ·        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 has scored first has lost all five games of this series. The Flyers jumped out first with a power play goal by Matt Carle at the 11:45 mark of the 1st period. The Penguins bounced right back with a power play goal of their own when Steve Sullivan scored at 14:51 with Braydon Coburn in the box serving a mystery interference penalty. Numerous replays couldn’t find the penalty. The Flyers came right back with their second power play goal of the period when Scott Hartnell scored at 17:35, finishing up a perfect set-up from Danny Briere and Claude Giroux.

The period was very well played by both teams. Both teams were on defensive lock down with the Flyers leading in shots on goal, 7-6. The offensive fireworks we’d seen throughout the series are finished. Ilya Bryzgalov was playing well and the Flyers had gotten off to the good start they needed.

 Ilya Bryzgalov – Bryzgalov bounced back from his awful Game 4 with a decent showing. He made several big saves with the game on the line early in the 3rd period. Two of the Penguins goals were defensive break downs that allowed Penguins players to shoot lasers from in close that Bryz had no chance to stop. Overall, we feel, he played fairly well, stopping 20 of 23 shots. Bryz effort was overshadowed by the outstanding effort from the games #1 star Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury saw 26 shots, turning back 24 of them. He made several big saves in the final 10 minutes of the game as the Flyers desperately buzzed the net. It was a decent game by Bryzgalov, but advantage Fleury in Game 5. The Flyers need Bryz to be equally as good if not better in Game 6.

Stay Healthy – James Van Riemsdyk was back in the lineup after missing a good part of the season with various injuries, most recently a broken foot. JVR saw only 7:31 seconds of ice time in his first game back.

The big injury news was the loss of Nick Grossman. Grossman is a big, strong, experienced defenseman that has been a major part of the Flyers success. Grossman is listed as day-to-day with concussion like symptoms; however, he didn’t make the trip to Pittsburgh. Grossman is day-to-day at this point.  Due to the injury to Grossman, Peter Laviolette had to make serious decisions on his defensive pairings. He went “all-in” with Carle, 29:40 seconds of ice time, Coburn, 29:11 second and Kimmo Timonen, 25:01 seconds. As a result of the “Big 3” playing almost half of the hockey game Eric Gustafsson, activated to replace Grossman, saw only 11:51 minutes of ice time while Andreas Lilja played just 7:09 seconds and Pavel Kubina 6:52 seconds. This was a huge risk by Laviolette, especially with the short turnaround between a Friday night game and a Sunday noon game. If Grossman can return for Sunday’s game the minutes can be spread out more. Tired players make mistakes and the Flyers cannot afford mistakes at this point in the series.

Staying out of the penalty box will be critical. The Flyers did a good job staying out of the penalty box. They were called for three minor penalties in the game. One of them resulted in a Pittsburgh goal. The Penguins were called for five minors that resulted in two Flyers goals. The referees, Paul Devorski and Dan O’Rourke, let the teams play on both ends of the ice. Both teams were very disciplined, for the most part, while playing tight defense in spite of some wide open offense. They also kept Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin off the score sheet. Malkin had 4 shots on goal in 21:14 seconds of ice time while Crosby had 2 shots in 20:05 second of work.

Special Teams remain critical to the playoffs. The Flyers had a slight advantage in Game 5 but couldn’t get one past Fleury on their only opportunity in the 3rd period in spite of several in-close opportunities. Briere had the best opportunity with a wide open top of the net but couldn’t get the puck over the pads of Fleury.

The biggest improvement the Flyers need to make in Game 6 is in their five-on-five play. The Flyers cannot wait for power play situations to score. For the second game in a row, the Flyers’ only offensive production came from the power play. They have not scored an even-strength goal in 139 minutes, 33 seconds. As Hartnell said following the game, “Five-on-five, we got badly outplayed, badly outscored, now we’ve got to regroup.”

Our prediction has been the Flyers in 6 games and we’re still on it. The series is now being played as playoff hockey that includes close, tight checking, discipline, good defense, good goaltending, some wide open offense and special teams. We stated in our “View from the Philly Pressbox” – Game 4 post the “The Flyers need to play well in Game 5 in Pittsburgh. Of course, we want them to win; however, what we need to do is play good, tough, discipline hockey as they have done in the first three games and there’s a good chance they could close out the series.” The Flyers did that. They will make the necessary adjustments and will win the series on Sunday.

I’d rather be ahead 3 games to 2 and coming home than trailing 3 game to 2 and going on the road. The Flyers are still in command of the series and will win.

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

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“View from the Philly Pressbox” – Flyers-Penguins, Game 4

In Philadelphia Flyers on April 19, 2012 at 5:48 pm

In today’s “View from the Philly Pressbox” we look at the Penguins, 10-3, blowout of the Flyers in Game 4 of the 1st Round series. The Flyers now lead the series 3-1 as the series goes back to Penguins on Friday night.

In our series preview we identified the four keys for the Flyers to win the series and they haven’t changed.

  • ·        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 Flyers came out of the locker room and actually took a 1st period lead in a game for the first time in the series when Claude Giroux scored a power play goal just 1:16 seconds in to the game. Unfortunately it didn’t last long, 2:21 seconds to be exact, when the Flyers collapse began. Following the Evgeni Malkin goal, Matt Niskanen scored on the power play, another Zac Rinaldo penalty, 4:28 seconds later. The Penguins followed with a meltdown of their own, being called for three minor penalties in the span of 50 seconds. The Flyers capitalized by scoring two power play goals, one by Kimmo Timonen and one by Jakub Voracek.. The Flyers looked like they had regrouped. Again, it didn’t last long, the Penguins scored two goals in the final 3:41 of the period. The score after the period was 4-3 Pens.

Although the Flyers did actually have the lead for the first time at the start of the game, they never had control of the period. They didn’t come out of the locker room with any intensity and paid the price for it.

The disturbing thing about Game 4 is not that the Flyers couldn’t hold the lead in the 1st period but rather their failure to compete in the game. We’ve stated throughout the series that falling behind early is a problem. We continue to feel that way. The Flyers are still in control of the series; however, this area still needs to be corrected.

 Ilya Bryzgalov – Bryzgalov was awful!! Sergei Bobrovsky was equally bad!! Both goalies faced 18 shots and both gave up 5 goals. Pitiful! With that said, there’s equal blame to go around for the entire team and not just the defense. The Flyers were outworked throughout the game. They gave up four power play goals in nine chances. They likely wouldn’t have won this game if either of these goalies had played really well due to their lack of effort. Just as you win with a total team effort you can’t expect goalies to win games alone. It was a total team breakdown on both ends of the ice. Coach Peter Laviolette has his hands full in pulling the team back together and regaining the focus they’ve had up to this point. With that said. the goaltenders are required to make some saves to help the team win, in Game 4 that didn’t happen. Although 10 goals allowed balloons the statistics, the Flyers have now allowed 22 goals in 4 games and that’s not good enough!!

Stay Healthy – As we stated previously the Flyers are close to adding James Van Riemsdyk back to the lineup and it can’t happen soon enough. Zac Rinaldo has got to be taken out of this series. Rinaldo is not capable of being on the ice without getting a penalty. He had 20 minutes in Game 3 and added another 26 minutes in Game 4 with only 3:39 seconds of ice time. The only possible injury in the game was to Nick Grossman, who took a shot to the head. Grossman is day-to-day at this point. Big Nick will be missed if he can’t play Friday night.

Staying out of the penalty box will be critical. The penalty box situation in this game was a joke. Sunday’s game was a blood bath full of cheap shots. Games 1 and 2 were action packed, hard hitting games that were physical and fun to watch. The referees took that out of Game 4 by calling the game so close that the players couldn’t play. There were a total of 26 penalties in the game, 20 of them were minor penalties with 12 going against the Flyers. That’s’ more than a full period of the game shorthanded due to “ticky tack” penalties. The Flyers also received 3-10 minute misconduct penalties and a game misconduct. The Penguins received 2-10 minute misconducts. With all of these penalties there were not even any fighting penalties.

Frankly, without sounding like we’re having a bad case of “sour grapes,” this game was a joke by the referees. It appears to us that the league instructed the referees to call the game so close that it took the game away. All of the power plays, 9, played in to the Penguins hands by creating opportunity after opportunity throughout the game.  There was a stretch in the 2nd period where the Flyers were called for five minor penalties in a row, the last one going along with a Penguins penalty. During that time the Pens scored three power play goals and blew the game open by taking a 4-3 game and making it a 7-3 game.

As stated in Game 3 when the Flyers scored five special teams goals they would win, well the same holds true that when you allow four power play goals you are most likely going to lose. Special Teams remain critical to the playoffs, and obviously the Game 4 advantage was to Pittsburgh after Games 1. 2 and 3 had gone to the Flyers.

Let’s face the facts here, it was not in the best interest of the NHL to have the Stanley Cup favorites, playing shorthanded due to league suspensions, eliminated early in the playoffs by being swept. The Flyers didn’t play well but had no chance of winning this game any way.

Again, we’ll show the same quote we showed in our series preview and after each of the first three games. We stated that “for the Flyers to win they need to get contributions from all of their lines. Obviously, the Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Jaromir Jagr line needs to be good. Danny Briere needs to step up as he has in past playoffs. Wayne Simmons, Max Talbot and Jakub Voracek will need to contribute as they have all season. Just as important will be the play of the Flyers rookies, Matt Read, Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn. These rookies have played very well throughout the regular season; however, they need to lift their game to the next level that is playoff hockey!” In Game 4, no one showed up for the Flyers. Giroux did have a goal and an assist in the game. He also had a penalty and a -1 for the game. Danny Briere and Brayden Shenn were -4, Pavel Kubina, Wayne Simmonds and Matt Carle were all -3. Carle was called for two minor penalties while Simmonds and Kubina both had minor penalties and misconduct penalties.

Overall it was a bad game for everyone wearing orange and black and in black and white striped shirts. The Flyers need to put this one behind them and come back Friday night ready to play.

Our prediction had been the Flyers in 6 games. We felt a sweep in the series was too much to ask. We stated after Game 2 the Penguins “could come out with their elimination backs against the wall, play well, and win, or they could quit on the season and get ready for golfing”. What we saw in Game 4 from the Penguins is what we expected to see from them in Game 3 before they decided to “goon up” the game. The Penguins are a good hockey club and they showed it in Game 4. We changed our prediction from Flyers in 6 to Flyers in a sweep like everyone else that got caught in the emotion when we knew a sweep was very unlikely. We’re going to go back to Flyers is 6 games. The Flyers need to play well in Game 5 in Pittsburgh. Of course, we want them to win; however, what we need to do is play good, tough, discipline hockey as they have done in the first three games and there’s a good chance they could close out the series.

The Flyers are still in command of the series and will win.

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

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“View from the Philly Pressbox” – Flyers-Penguins, Game 3

In Philadelphia Flyers on April 17, 2012 at 5:22 pm

In today’s “View from the Philly Pressbox” we look at the Flyers blowout of the Penguins in Game 3 of the 1st Round series. The Flyers now lead the series 3-0 with an 8-4 win over the crumbling Penguins at the Wells Fargo Center before a crazed sellout crowd.

In our series preview we identified the four keys for the Flyers to win the series and they haven’t changed.

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

Don’t fall behind early in games. Obviously, the Flyers didn’t get our post, AGAIN and AGAIN!! Although the Flyers fell behind 1-0 on a Jordan Staal goal at the 3:52 mark they were never reeling in this game. As the Penguins tried to figure out some way to stay in the game, with cheap shots and taunting, they never had a chance. Max Talbot scored shorthanded, again, at 6:44 and Danny Briere added the first of his two goals on the power play at 8:19 to give the Flyers the lead that they would never give up. Briere added his second goal, and fourth of the series, at 11:45 and Matt Read the first of his two goals at 15:40, wrapped around a James Neal goal. At the end of the 1st period it was 4-2 Flyers, and it was on from there.

The Flyers have spotted the Penguins leads in each of the three games of the series. We still feel this is a bad sign moving forward. The way this series has unfolded the Flyers are just the better hockey team; however, this habit needs to stop. It’s been a problem all season and isn’t a situation they want to put themselves in throughout the playoffs. So far they’ve survived.

 Ilya Bryzgalov – Bryzgalov was not near as sharp as he was in Game 2 when he was tremendous. He allowed two goals that were cheap goals. that could cost a game at some point in the playoffs. Bryz seemed to be distracted slightly by the gooning and fighting that was going on around him. He cannot have breakdowns in his concentration and allow soft goals. The Pens explosive offense was well discussed coming in to the series. The Flyers have done a great job controlling Evgeni Malkin, 0 goals and 4 assists and Sidney Crosby, 2 goals and 3 assists throughout the series. Lost in the Flyers offensive explosion, 20 goals, is that the Penguins have scored 12 goals themselves. Four goals a game is a lot of goals to give up. Bryz needs to get sharp and stay sharp. Soft goals have to stop. We’ll say it until “The Stanley Cup” rides down Broad Street, hot goalies win playoff series and Stanley Cups and Bryz needs to be that hot goalie.

Stay Healthy – In the midst of all of the cheap shots, head hunting and fighting the Flyers came out of Game 3 without any injuries. The team is getting close to adding James Van Riemsdyk back to the lineup. JVR will be a nice addition in place of Zac Rinaldo. Rinaldo has tried to be physical when he can, but always seems to find his way to the penalty box. Renaldo has 20 penalty minutes in the 3 games. JVR will add some offensive skill and still be physical.

Staying out of the penalty box will be critical. It’s pretty difficult to talk about staying out of the penalty box when you have a game where you are being, thugged, mugged and gooned by your opponent. The Flyers did allow one power play goal in the game and now three for the three game series. Credit goes to the Flyers for defending themselves and protecting their players when they had to without losing control of their emotions like the Penguins did. The “thugs” were clearly the Penguins. The Flyers added four power play goals of their own, Briere, Read, Wayne Simmonds and Talbot. They added another shorthanded goal by Talbot, his second “shorty” of the series and the third by the Flyers. It’s safe to say that the team that gets five special teams goals is going to win!! Special Teams remain critical to the playoffs, and obviously the Game 3 advantage, like Games 1 and 2, goes to the Flyers.

Again, we’ll show the same quote we showed in our series preview and after Games 1 and 2. We stated that “for the Flyers to win they need to get contributions from all of their lines. Obviously, the Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Jaromir Jagr line needs to be good. Danny Briere needs to step up as he has in past playoffs. Wayne Simmons, Max Talbot and Jakub Voracek will need to contribute as they have all season. Just as important will be the play of the Flyers rookies, Matt Read, Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn. These rookies have played very well throughout the regular season; however, they need to lift their game to the next level that is playoff hockey!” Again, we hit the nail on the head with that statement. Claude Giroux continues to be tremendous on both ends of the ice and as a team leader. Giroux, along with line mates, Scott Hartnell and Jaromir Jagr are leading the way, although Hartnell has been kept off the scoreboard he’s continued to impact the game. A big key in Game 1 was rookie Brayden Shenn, in Game 2 it was rookie Sean Couturier with 3 goals and an assist, Game 3 it was rookie Matt Read with 2 goals. Another rookie, Eric Wellwood has played solid hockey in less playing time. The rookies have combined for 6 goals and 6 assists in the series thus far. Add that to the solid play of Talbot, Simmonds, Jake Voracek and the incredible playoff goal scoring of Briere and you have a total team contribution.

Defensively, the Flyers have played solid throughout. Brayden Coburn has been a wall. Matt Carle has been solid along with Nic Grossman, Timonen, Pavel Kubina and Andreas Lilja. Each had to step up their game when they lost Timonen and each did their job.

Our prediction has been the Flyers in 6 games. We felt asking for a sweep in the series was too much to ask. We stated after Game 2 the Penguins “could come out with their elimination backs against the wall, play well, and win, or they could quit on the season and get ready for golfing”. We didn’t expect them to come out as “goons” before they went golfing. The Flyers need to sweep this series in four games. They need to get out with no injuries from any further cheap shots. The Flyers need to come out of the locker room with their foot on the gas from the start and not take any chances going back to Pittsburgh for a Game 5. The Flyers have the Penguins down and need to “kill the mosquito with the ax”.

 

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

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“View from the Philly Pressbox” – Flyers – Penguins Game 2

In Philadelphia Flyers on April 14, 2012 at 8:34 pm

In today’s “View from the Philly Pressbox” we look at the outcome of Game 2 of the 1st Round series between the Flyers and the Penguins. The Flyers now lead the series 2-0 with a fantastic 8-5 victory at the Consol Energy Center.

In our series preview we identified the four keys for the Flyers to win the series and they haven’t changed.

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

Don’t fall behind early in games. Obviously, the Flyers didn’t get our post, AGAIN! They came out and fell behind just 15 seconds in to the game. That first goal, as well as the Flyers strategy, is very confusing to me. The Flyers didn’t have the opening line matchup they wanted with the Sidney Crosby line so as soon as the puck was dropped all 5 Flyers headed to the bench for a full line change. Call it bad luck or fast hockey but before the Flyers could get their new group on the ice and organized Crosby was flying and dealt the first blow, and again the Flyers had to come from behind. The opinion here is that these are professional players and not having the matchup you want can wait until you can clear the puck and get an organized line change. This was ridiculous. It was a tactical error by Peter Laviolette and he got burned. Overall, the Flyers played much better in the 1st period but fell behind 2-0 before getting a beautiful shorthanded goal from Max Talbot, at 12:44. Talbot followed a Claude Giroux shot and banged in the rebound to make it 2-1. The Flyers had their skates under them, and looked like they were in pretty shape before giving up would looked like a back breaking goal by Defenseman Paul Martin at the 19:42 mark. Again, the Flyers went to the break down 3-1. We know the end result turned out the Flyers way, however, we stick to our original keys and say the Flyers cannot continue to fall behind early in this series or in any other. It’s not the position they need to be in game-in and game-out or it will catch up to them.

Ilya Bryzgalov – Bryzgalov was tremendous! He gets our #1 star of the game even though he gave up 5 goals and there were two hat tricks. He only stopped 23 of 28 shots but like we stated he was tremendous. Bryz made at least three saves that could’ve/should’ve been goals. At one point the game could’ve been 6-1 Pittsburgh if not for Bryz. The Flyers made a decision to open the vault to sign Bryzgalov in the off season and it surely paid off last night. Hot goalies win playoff series and Stanley Cups and Bryz is a hot goalie.

Stay Healthy – This was a physical hockey game that appeared to favor the Penguins. The hit numbers were equal but the center ice hits and bigger hits came from Pittsburgh although the Flyers dished out their fair share of hits as well. With that said, the Flyers are still healthy and ready for Game 3.

Staying out of the penalty box will be critical. The Flyers were called for five minor penalties in the game and gave up two goals. That’s too many! Although you can’t depend on it every night the Flyers turned the shorthanded situation to their advantage getting a the shorthanded goal from Talbot in the 1st period and another from Giroux that tied the score 3-3 at 11:04 of the 2nd period. The Penguins were only called for three penalties and the Flyers turned one of them in to Giroux’s first goal of the game. The two “shorties” tend to hide the penalty situation. The Flyers cannot give the Penguins five power play opportunities a game. Special Teams are critical to the playoffs, and the Game 2 advantage, just like Game 1, goes to the Flyers.

After this 2nd game we’ll quote what we said in our series preview and repeated after Game 1. We stated that “for the Flyers to win they need to get contributions from all of their lines. Obviously, the Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Jaromir Jagr line needs to be good. Danny Briere needs to step up as he has in past playoffs. Wayne Simmons, Max Talbot and Jakub Voracek will need to contribute as they have all season. Just as important will be the play of the Flyers rookies, Matt Read, Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn. These rookies have played very well throughout the regular season; however, they need to lift their game to the next level that is playoff hockey!” Again, we hit the nail on the head with that statement. Claude Giroux was tremendous, scoring 3 goals and adding another 3 assists. Talbot added a goal. Jaromir Jagr added the game winning goal. All of the Flyers contributed on both ends of the ice. It’s unfortunate that Bryzgalov was so good because Sean Couturier deserves to be the #1 star as well. The 19 year old Couturier added a hat trick of his own and an assist while shutting down the Penguins 50 goal scorer Evangi Malkin. Malkin did tally two assist but he was never a factor and the reason was Couturier. Couturier delivered one of the big blows of the game by tieing the score 4-4 with a goal with 2.8 seconds remaining in the 2nd period. He stayed with the play until the final whistle and his hustle paid off. Again, it was a total team effort and a well deserved huge win.

Our prediction still hasn’t changed from the Flyers in 6 games. We’ve been right on both games so far. The Flyers are further in the Penguins heads! It will be interesting to see how Pittsburgh responds in Game 3. They could come out with their elimination backs against the wall, play well, and win or they could quit on the season and get ready for golfing. For the Flyers, they need come out of the locker room ready to play, not fall behind again and put their foot on the throat of the Penguins and not let off. Back in the day, when I used to coach, I had a saying when you got a lead on your opponent to “kill the mosquito with an ax.” That’s what the Flyers need to do. However, we feel the Penguins will play well and win Game 3. We hope not but a sweep would be too much to expect.

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

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