Archive for the ‘NHL’ category

Flyers Win 2 on the Road

October 5, 2009
Flyers Mike Richards, Simon Gagne and Matt Carle (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Flyers Mike Richards, Simon Gagne and Matt Carle (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

The Flyers started off their season with 2 big wins on the road.  The Flyers shut-out Carolina on Friday night and clearly beat-up the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night.  The team got great play from most players, including excellent goaltending from Ray Emery.  The only disappointing part of both wins was the exorbitant amount of penalties the Flyers took.  They had to kill 8 penalties on Friday, including a 2 minute 5 on 3 power-play for the Carolina Hurricanes.

Of course, one could question how good are the Hurricanes and Devils?  Last season, the Devils finished the season with 107 points and the Hurricanes made it to the Eastern Conference finals.  Both of these teams have their nucleus back, so there shouldn’t have been any drop off in play.  For the Flyers to come out and win both of those games on the road should help the Flyers with their confidence and hockey instinct.  

The Flyers open their home portion of the season, tomorrow night against the Washington Capitals and then follow-up with the Penguins on Thursday.  These two games will be a real test to this surging Flyers team.  However, if the Flyers continue to get passionate play from their fourth line, especially Blair Betts and Ian Lapierrerre and excellent goaltending from Ray Emery, these two games this week could catapult the Flyers season or send the Flyers back to the drawing board on how to beat the two top teams in the Eastern Conference.

Advertisements

Flyers Season Starts Tonight

October 2, 2009
New Flyers Goalie - Ray Emery -  Yong Kim / Staff Photographer (Daily News/Inquirer)

New Flyers Goalie - Ray Emery - Yong Kim / Staff Photographer (Daily News/Inquirer)

There is nothing better than the start of hockey season.  The Flyers face off tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes to start their season.  As discussed many times, the Flyers made a flurry of trades and moves designed to bolster their team.  In fact, some major hockey publications are selecting the Flyers as the eventual Stanley Cup champions.  I wouldn’t go that far, yet.  We haven’t seen them play, nor have we seen these Flyers develop an always win mentality.  I hope it pans out, but I think there are many variables.

The goalie situation in Philadelphia has not been stable since Ron Hextall manned the pipes.  This year, the Flyers start the year with Ray Emery and Brian Boucher as their primary goaltenders.  Both of their contracts are salary cap friendly and they both have a lot to prove.  Emery has had a tumultuous past with his former teammates and with the police.  He needs to have a great and behaved year to get his career and life back on track.  Flyers GM Paul Holmgren took a large chance handing the starting job over to Ray Emery.  If it works out – Holmgren is a genius.  If it doesn’t, we can all kiss this season goodbye.  One thing Emery has going for him is the defense.

I don’t think that you can find very many teams in the NHL with a better top four defensemen than the Flyers have.  With the addition of Chris Pronger to Kimmo Timonen, Braydon Coburn, Matt Carle and Ryan Parent, the Flyers defense should provide protection in front of the net, skills on the power play and provide some offensive puck movement.  The offense is going to greatly benefit from this backline unit.

With the core of the Flyers, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Scott Hartnell coming off career seasons, the sky is the limit.  A healthy Danny Briere added to youngsters James van Riemsdyk, Claude Giroux and Darrell Powe.  Simon Gagne, should he remain healthy, will get his standard allotment of points.  Interestingly, the Flyers added proven penalty killers and checkers, Blair Betts and Ian LaPierrere.  These two guys should take a significant burden off of Mike Richards as the lead penalty killer.  Richards then should be able focus on his excellent two way 5 on 5 play and leading the top power-play unit.  Even better, the Flyers are only going to have to dress one of Riley Cote, Aaron Asham or Dan Carcillo.  This will allow the Flyers to have more skilled players on the ice.  

Finally, the Flyers learned their salary lessons from a year-ago.  By putting Randy Jones on waivers and sending him to the Phantoms, they freed up his cap space allowing them to keep the young players on the roster and leave room for an emergency call-up or if they want to make a trade.  Also, it would prevent them from having to pull the Scottie Upshall trade of 2009-2010.

PhilaTude’s take on the Flyers season – they will win games, but I am still concerned about the intensity around this team and their ability to stay out of the penalty box.  If they can reduce the penalties and show a desire to play tough for wins, watch out, because this team has talent.

More on My Hatred of Sidney Crosby

July 10, 2009
Flyers Logo

Flyers Logo

I can’t handle another discussion about the Phillies and their inconsistency; however, they did look good last night.  I am not going to address Pedro Martinez coming to Phillies, no point in writing about speculation that is going to be ridiculous if he doesn’t sign, but even more absurd if he does sign.  So, I will take this opportunity to share more thoughts on my most hated sports figure ever, Sidney Crosby.

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure, sorry, displeasure of talking to a Pittsburgh native about their Stanley Cup win and their poor excuse for a captain, Sidney Crosby.  The Pittsburgh acquaintance was shocked at how we, as die-hard Philadelphia fans, could have such hatred for him.  I explained that he is a lousy sport, a whiner, a cheap-shot artist and a terrible leader.  Pittsburgh dude disagreed with everything I said.  I had examples, previously discussed in other blog posts that proved my points.  After much discussion and deliberation, he agreed that my perception was well justified.  His comeback points were that the NHL chose him as the face and that he is great in the Pittsburgh community.  I agree and have previously written that Crosby didn’t chose the position he is in and that’s great he is active in Pittsburgh.  Tell that to Niklas Lidstrom, who he snubbed after winning the cup and tell it to all of the tremendous athletes in the NHL that have been victim to the referees’ favoritism to Sidney Crosby.  All I want is for Pittsburgh fans to realize his significant flaws and wake up to the fact that the NHL significantly helped Crosby and the Penguins in their run to the cup.  Then, the Penguins fans can rejoice that they won a Stanley Cup (albeit tainted).  

Needless to say, my Pittsburgh connection wasn’t happy with my assessment of his wonder boy.  Guess what?  I don’t care, because until Crosby stops getting special treatment and he embraces his role as an ambassador of hockey that exudes immense sportsmanship, I will continue to lambast him until he is put in his place.  Quite frankly, now that he has a Stanley Cup, I don’t see this situation getting any better, in fact, it will get worse.  Let’s go Flyers.

Philly Sports Round-up

July 8, 2009
Chris Pronger and Paul Holmgren (Getty Images)

Chris Pronger and Paul Holmgren (Getty Images)

Yesterday, the Flyers signed Chris Pronger to the much anticipated and relieving contract extension.  Pronger is now signed for an additional 7 years to play with the Flyers crest on his sweater.  It is interesting to note that Pronger will be in his early 40’s when his contract expires, ensuring him he will finish his career as a Flyer.  The contract terms seem to point to a 5 million cap number for each of the seasons.  There have been some significant differences in the way different media outlets are reporting the numbers.  I have read that if Pronger retires, the Flyers do not have a cap hit for his salary because the deal was signed before he turns 35.  However, some disagree and think that if he retires, the salary will be a cap hit because the deal goes into affect after he turns 35, regardless of when he signed it.  Having Pronger locked into a 5 million cap number for the next few seasons is a huge bonus for the Flyers.  Pronger will be happy in Philadelphia and the Flyers fans will be happy he is here.  When I figure out the actual contract details, I will comment.

The Phillies took an early lead over the Reds yesterday, but failed to finish off the win.  As discussed in yesterday’s blog post, these are the games that the Phillies need to win.  They need to finish games strong and not allow their inconsistency to ruin significant opportunities for wins.  If they come out play well tonight, yesterday’s game might and hopefully be just an anomaly on their road to getting back on track.

All is quiet of the Sixers free agent front.  Andre Miller is holding out for 10 million a season.  The Sixers will pursue negotiating with Miller, but probably will also look at sign and trade deals with him.  I think the Sixers need him back for 2, maybe 3 years.

Aside from the Flyers and Sixers offseason roster updates and Phillies mid season action, things are quiet on the Philadelphia sports scene.  That will change once the Eagles get to training camp.

Flyers Mildly Active in Free Agency – 76ers Quiet

July 2, 2009
Ian Laperriere - newest Flyers forward

Ian Laperriere - newest Flyers forward

After a busy day on free agency in the NHL and NBA, the Philadelphia teams were only slightly active.  The Flyers signed a back-up goalie, Brian Boucher, to a very salary cap friendly contract.  They also signed Ian Laperriere to a 3 year contract at a cap friendly price.  Laperriere is a forward who plays with grit (a PhilaTude favorite word) and hates to lose.  He will be a solid third or fourth line veteran presence, who can kill penalties and take a strong leadership role.  The rest of the NHL was active, with the Rangers paying an immense amount of cash for an oft-injured Marion Gaborik.  The Canadiens rebuilt their top line by signing Mike Cammelleri, Brian Gionta and trading for Scott Gomez.  The 76ers did nothing, while the rest of the NBA was quiet except for the Pistons signing Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva.

The Flyers did lose Mike Knuble to the Washington Capitals.  The Caps paid close to 6 million over two years to Knuble, who is 37 years old.  I wanted the Flyers to resign Knuble, but only because I thought they could do it without giving up too much cash.  The Capitals overpaid for Knuble, I think he is only really worth 4 million over 2 years, which is probably what the Flyers offered him.  While I don’t wish Knuble any bad luck or harm, he is going to significantly miss out on a good Flyers season, similarly like Brian Dawkins who will miss out on an excellent Eagles season.  

The 76ers have announced that it might take some time to sign to Andre Miller.  I guess if he doesn’t sign anywhere else, it makes sense to wait.  Maybe he is waiting to see if he gets other offers, who knows?  An interesting development around the Houston Rockets is that Yao Ming won’t be playing next season.  If I were Ed Stefanski, I would try my hardest to trade the Rockets Samuel Dalembert and take whatever they will offer.

As discussed in yesterday’s post, there is no loyalty; it’s all about the money.  Players talk about staying and playing for their current team, but in the end it’s all about who gives them the largest contract.  Hopefully, the Flyers and Sixers aren’t done this off-season and we’ll have some more interesting news and new players to discuss.

Free Agency

July 1, 2009
Andre Miller, Free Agent

Andre Miller, Free Agent

Every year, there is excitement around which NHL or NBA free agents might sign in Philadelphia.  This year is no exception as the Flyers struggle to resign their own free agent, Mike Knuble, while the Sixers are dealing with Andre Miller, similarly.  Here’s my take on free agency:  I hate it. 

I hate for all it could be, but isn’t.  Here’s the deal – every team has to abide by a salary cap.  In the NHL it is hard cap with a minimum to be spent.  In the NBA there is a soft cap allowing teams to go over the cap for their own players and/or pay a luxury tax if they go over the cap.  Both salary cap systems have their strengths and weaknesses, but both don’t allow any wiggle room for free agency.  Free agency is all in the players’ hands, especially, the players in demand.  Free agency has come down to which team can pay the player the most amount of money. 

A few quick examples, Brian Dawkins signed for the most amount of money in Denver, when the Eagles had offered a similar, but less money contract.  Jim Thome signed with the Phillies a few years ago for the most amount of money even though his current team for many years offered him a pretty solid contract.  He was encouraged to take the money.  The NBA and NHL are no different.  Carlos Boozer opted out of his contract, rejected a solid offer from the Cavaliers and subsequently signed for an immense amount of money with the Utah Jazz.  Danny Briere of the Flyers signed for the most amount of money, instead of settling for a little less to play for his hometown team, the Montreal Canadiens.  Get the point?  It’s all about making the players wealthy. 

I want free agency to be about keeping teams together, providing chemistry building opportunities and finding an exciting player that isn’t on anyone’s radar.  Instead it’s about money and worrying about teams spending too close to the salary cap.  Wouldn’t it be great if there was an incentive for players to resign with their old clubs, if their clubs want them back, just like in the Miller and Knuble situations?  Since owners and teams have restrictions on their spending, shouldn’t the players be prevented from being overpaid?  To develop some significant loyalty to all sports leagues and it starts by finding a way to keep teams together, with significantly less talk about money and more talk about winning.

Flyers Acquire Chris Pronger

June 29, 2009
Hopefully, Chris Pronger will hoist the Cup in a Flyers sweater.  (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Hopefully, Chris Pronger will hoist the Cup in a Flyers sweater. (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

The Flyers acquiring Chris Pronger and a minor-leaguer for Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa and some draft picks is tremendous.  It gives the Flyers an excellent core of defensemen and provides some salary cap flexibility at the end of this season. 

Ok, I know many people are bitter about giving up Sbisa and the late first round draft picks, but you have to give up something to get something.  Regardless, if the Flyers didn’t get Pronger, Sbisa wouldn’t have been on the roster this year.  Besides, the Flyers still have to resign Parent and Coburn to long-term deals around the same time Sbisa’s contract would expire.  Personally, I’d rather have Coburn and Parent over Sbisa.  Parent and Coburn are made for the NHL, Sbisa will be a fine defensemen, but no better than Randy Jones.

Joffrey Lupul was a disappointment last season and I am still not sure why Holmgren gave Lupul that ridiculous contract extension.  He’s the Ducks’ problem now (or again). 

The Flyers defense will have Timonen play with Parent, Coburn and Pronger and Jones and Carle.  It is great that Carle and Jones will be the 5th and 6th defensemen, because that’s where they belong.  If they can re-sign Andrew Alberts for the league minimum, he will be an excellent 7th defenseman.

Chris Pronger brings a much needed edge to the Flyers defense.  He can kill penalties and keep opposing players from crashing the net.  Ray Emery should be ecstatic to have Pronger in front of his net.  A few downsides to the deal are that Pronger will be a free agent after this season, he is 34 and his presence will just make the referees salivate at calling more penalties on the Flyers.  I think Holmgren will be able to re-sign Pronger, because he will love playing here and I expect Holmgren to make more moves to have the necessary cap space.  At age 34, many defensemen have been effective.  Niklas Lidstrom from the Red Wings is still playing tremendous hockey in his 30’s.  Chris Chelios and Paul Coffey also had great seasons while in their 30’s.  I’m not worrying about Pronger’s age.  And, the issue of the Flyers getting tougher – they know how to play against their opponents and the referees.

I am jacked up for this season.  The Flyers still need to get a face-off winning veteran center, re-sign Knuble and sign a back-up goalie.  No matter what else happens this off-season, the Flyers got one of the best and toughest defensemen in the league.  And by the way – Jay Bouwmeester – overrated.

Other draft news:  The Flyers added two goaltenders and a few skaters.  I don’t really think any of them will have an impact on the Flyers organization in the short-term.  If one of these players develops, they would be considered “draft steals.”