Posted tagged ‘Simon Gagne’

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.

John Stevens to Blame?

May 8, 2009
John Stevens, flyers.nhl.com

John Stevens, flyers.nhl.com

After the Flyers first round exit in this year’s playoffs, someone should blamed. Right?

Should Paul Holmgren be blamed for having to make roster decisions based on salary cap dollars? Yes, but that’s not why the Flyers lost. Holmgren still assembled a strong enough team to make some noise in the playoffs.

How about we blame the players for not playing to their potential? Yes and no. Some of the players outplayed expectations – Claude Giroux, while others were battling injuries – Simon Gagne, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and Randy Jones. Players like Joffrey Lupul, Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere didn’t step up as much as they should have.

Could Marty Biron be responsible? Nope, he played well enough for them to win. He didn’t play well enough to win it for the team, but he gave the Flyers a shot at winning.

Should John Stevens be at fault for the performance of the Flyers in the playoffs? Absolutely. How does a coach allow his team to squander a three goal lead in a do-or-die playoff situation? How does a coach not have his team playing top level hockey heading into the playoffs? How does a coach not expect his players to play to their potential? How does a coach allow his team to be undisciplined? How does a coach allow his team to “take periods off” or “go through the motions” of many regular season games?  I can’t answer these questions.  I hope the Flyers organization answers these questions.  It makes no sense to me why John Stevens gets the free pass.

My guess is that he will be back. I’m not happy.

Flyers – Final Thoughts on the 2009 Playoffs

May 5, 2009

Philadelphia Flyers

Philadelphia Flyers


Now that the Flyers first round playoff loss is over 10 days old, I am more capable of discussing the poor showing in the playoffs. I needed some time to cool off. In the local Philadelphia media, it was repeatedly written about the lack of leadership and the lack of urgency on this Flyers team. That may have been apparent and obvious to the media and fans, but I think it was something more.

Mike Richards is the captain. Kimmo Timonen and Danny Briere were both captains of their former clubs. Mike Knuble and Marty Biron have been in the league for years. The Flyers have leadership. What they are lacking is the grit, determination and mental toughness. Mike Richards and Jeff Carter both played through injuries, which exhibit the above, but it diminishes their skill needed to win games. The supporting players, specifically, Scott Hartnell, Joffrey Lupul and Simon Gagne, came up small. I expect more out of players making between 3 and 5 million a season. Gagne plays hard, but doesn’t step-up to be that go to player when the team needs him because Richards and Carter were hurt. Hartnell is supposed to bang in front of the net, but he can’t when he is in the box. Joffrey Lupul has speed and shot, but was trying to be too fancy. For every Richards, Carter, Briere and Giroux, a team needs the bangers, gritters and intangible guys. Richards is both. The skill guys aren’t off the hook, either. They didn’t put the puck in the net. So, my diagnosis and the problems with this team were the players not playing their roles.

This off-season is going to be interesting. I am curious to see what the Flyers are going to do with the goaltending situation, solidifying the defense, managing the salary cap and developing their young talent. If Holmgren makes the appropriate moves and tweaks, this team can compete and build on their experience over the last two years.

Coming up in the next few weeks, I will develop my thoughts on how the team should look next season and my take on Daniel Carcillo.