Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Flyers vs Devils

The Flyers take on the Devils beginning today.

Brodeur sucks.

Giroux takes over and continues to cement his place among the best of the best in the world.

Flyers in five.

 

Get some jam, boys.

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Flyers give up 10 goals, still in control

The Philadelphia Flyers forgot how to play hockey last night.  More accurately, they forgot how to play defense.  And the pair of Russian netminders forgot how to make saves.

Bryzgalov looked awful, and there are rumors of an injury.  Bobrovsky didn’t look any better.  Grossman may be concussed.

An embarrassing effort by the Flyers kept the Pittsburgh’s season alive, but make no mistake:  The Pens are still on life support.

Tomorrow, the Flyers get another chance.

 

Finish them.

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Flyers hang 8, Penguins show true colors

The Philadelphia Flyers hung eight goals on the combination of Marc Andre Fleury and Brent Johnson and took a huge 3-0 series lead.  Bryz was decent, Couturier, Giroux, and Talbot were awesome, as usual.  And the Penguins turned to cheap shots and attempts to injure as the game was out of hand.

In the first period, we saw Claude Giroux and Cindy Crosby (sorta) drop gloves, while Kimmo Timmonen and Kris Letang also turned to fisticuffs simultaneously.  Letang poured it on Timmonen, and both were given game misconducts and thrown out of the game.  A combined 72 penalty minutes in the first period were just a preview for the fireworks to come.

Later in the game, Brayden Schenn made what appeared to be a clean hit on a Pens player, and Aaron Asham took exception.  Asham ran at Schenn and made a huge high hit, jamming his stick into the throat of the rookie Schenn.  Asham was thrown out of the game, and should receive a phone call from Brendan Shanahan.

However, the biggest story was yet to come.  Late in the third, with the Flyers leading by three goals, James Neal took a run at standout rookie (and shutdown center extraordinaire) Sean Couturier.  Couturier has effectively shut down the ugliest professional athlete in the world, Evegeni Malkin, this series, while also stifling Neal.  Neal took a run in open ice at Couturier, who did not have the puck and wasn’t in the process of playing the puck, and left his feet while launching himself at the rookie’s head.  No penalty was called, and skirt-wearing Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma wisely decided to leave Neal on the ice for the ensuing face off.  Flyers coach Peter Laviolette resisted the desire to put a combination of Zac Rinaldo, Wayne Simmonds, Maxime Talbot, and Scott Hartnell on the ice.  It wouldn’t matter, however.  While in the Pittsburgh zone, Neal took a run at Giroux, and all hell broke loose shortly after.  Highlights included:

  • Sidney Crosby trying to restrain Scott Hartnell from going after Neal, while Adams then rushed in and eventually squared off with Hartsy.  After a few punches, the two worked over towards the boards, where Adams then grabbed a handful of Hartnell’s hair.
  • The referees deciding to just give Neal and two minute minor, leading to Hartnell and other Flyers going after him on his way to the penalty box.
  • Sidney Crosby sitting in the penalty box while a Flyers fan hilariously held up a t-shirt that read “I hate Sidney Crosby” right over his shoulder.
  • Dan Byslma, presumably, sitting in the office in the locker room mumbling and sobbing uncontrollably while using his skirt to wipe away the tears.
  • Pittsburgh fans piling off the bandwagon at record rates.

All in all, it was a solid win, but there is major concern when it comes to the status of both Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux.  Giroux was noticeably woozy after the run by Neal.  Giroux, of course, dealt with a concussion earlier in the season.

If the NHL doesn’t suspend James Neal for his actions, it will be a joke.  And if there is no suspension, I will have absolutely no problem with Laviolette activating Jody Shelley and Zac Rinaldo for the sole purpose of attempting to decapitate any combination of Crosby, Malkin, and Neal.

I Hate Crosby photo courtesy of The700Level.

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Records, Hat Tricks, Shorties, and 2-0 Series Leads

What a game we saw last night in Pittsburgh.

In typical Flyers fashion, Philadelphia surrendered two early goals to put themselves in a quick hole.  The holes this team regularly puts themselves in so often, it seems, is never too deep to climb out of.  Last night was no exception.

I’ll spare you the details and recap, as you’ve likely read them all by now.  Just a few bullet points:

 

  • Claude Giroux scored 6 (!!!) points, including thee goals and three assists.
  • Rookie Sean Couturier once again shined.  On top of shutting down the likely Art Ross Trophy winner, Scooter tallied his first career hat trick, also adding an assist.
  • Ilya Bryzgalov gave up five goals, but they weren’t all bad.  And they weren’t all his fault.  And he made some HUGE saves, keeping the Penguins from really putting the game away early.
  • Jaromir Jagr and Max Talbot each netted a goal against their former team.  How sweet it was.
  • Nick Grossmann had a huge hit on Vitale.  A little payback from a few weeks ago, perhaps?  Vitale temporarily left the game, but did return.
  • The Flyers own the Penguins.  It was incredible to see the crowd in Pittsburgh’s hope and happiness turn to sadness and depression.  I hate the Pittsburgh Penguins.

 

All in all, it was a great game.  Of course, we’d prefer the Flyers to come out and get the first few goals and never take the pressure off the Pens, but you can’t help but love this team.  The way they can struggle and get down early, but never give up.  It truly shows the hart, grit, and every other cliche that can be said here.

 

Sunday at three pm in Philly.  The Flyers can really put their collective skate to the throat of the Pens.  Let’s do it.

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Who’s there?

Flyers win.  Mac Miller, do your thang.

 

 

Suck it, Pittsburgh.

It’s time.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin in less than one hour.  Your Philadelphia Flyers will visit the hated Pittsburgh Penguins.  Bryzgalov vs Fleury.  Briere and Grossmann are back.  You know all the story lines.  At 7:30 tonight, the puck will drop and nothing else will matter.  Not the whining and the crying (but enough about Crosby…ZING), not the Flyers 4-2 mark against the Pens this year, not Bryzgalov’s struggles early in the year or the huge point total Giroux accumulated in the regular season, nothing.  All that will matter is the final score tonight, and every game after that.  And hopefully there are a lot more wins to come.

 

16 wins and the cup comes to Philly.  Let’s get that parade.

 

 

Here’s to hoping we hear “Knock Knock” blasting from the away locker room tonight.  Let’s do it.

 

Flyers in six.

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Sergei Bobrovsky Dances

Whaaaat, two posts in one day?  Actually, this isn’t an actual post.  Or at least one with much writing.  This is just a little .gif for you.  See what I did there?

Anyway, after Sergei Bobrovsky and the Flyers prevailed in a shootout against the Florida Panthers, Bob exploded with a short but incredible little dance.  I present to you, The Bob Dance:

But wait, here’s another, for your viewing pleasure:

Dancing Bobs!!!

(This is where I would make some “In Soviet Russia…” joke, but I’m more mature than that.)

(Actually, I tried for a good 10 minutes to think of one, but everything I thought of was either not funny, or made no sense.  In fact, most were both of those things.  The best I came up with was “In America, you celebrate with a dance.  In Soviet Russia, the dance celebrates you!”  See, told you.)

Gifs of Dancing Bob courtesy of BroadStreetHockey commenters s-hanna and everybodyhitswoohoo.

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The Flyers and shootouts

The Flyers played a boring game last night against the Florida Panthers.  It was a win, in a shootout no less (thanks to an absolute ankle-breaking, knee buckling move by Claude Giroux), but I just never got into it.  I don’t know if it’s because the Panthers are normally bad and I just expect the Flyers to beat them but they’re actually good this year or what.

That aside, the game eventually played through a scoreless overtime and we entered the dreaded Bettman shootout.  Yeah.

The Flyers aren’t a good team in shootouts.  Entering last night, they had lost all three shootouts they had been in, and they were something like 3-10 going back through the 2010-11 season.  For a team as offensively talented as the Flyers, it seemed odd.

Now, I have DirecTV Center Ice, and as great as it is, I can rarely watch the CSN Philly feeds of the games, which means I generally have to suffer through the opposing team’s announcers.  Last night was no exception.  After the five minutes of four-on-four overtime concluded, the Florida commentators were discussing just how bad the Flyers are in shootouts, and they brought up an interesting point.

Apparently, coach Peter Laviolette has stated, and I’m paraphrasing, that they simply do not practice the shootout, as there are more important things that the practice time needs to go to.  This baffled me.  I realize that once the game gets to a shootout, you’ve already been guaranteed one point, but winning hockey games is what matters.  That consolation “Bettman Point” is nice, but every point counts.  Why not practice, improve, and get two points?

The announcers continued, and asked the rhetorical question, “So, the Flyers are going to make the playoffs, right?”  The answer was yes.  “Well, there are no shootouts in the postseason.”

So very true.  If that is indeed Laviolette’s reasoning, then I definitely understand it.  What would serve the team better: Spending valuable practice time on the shootout, which will occur a dozen or so times a year, or spending that time practicing and improving on things that will have an impact on the outcome of literally every single game?

Sure, maybe late in the year the Flyers will be right on the cusp of moving up or falling down a seed that could dictate home ice advantage in the playoffs, and those points they missed out on by not performing well in shootouts could come back to bite them.  Then again, maybe that extra penalty kill or powerplay practice they would have missed out on by spending time improving in shootouts would have had meant that games that were won were instead lost due to lack of practice on those particular facets of the game.

It’s definitely and interesting thought, but I have to say that I agree with Laviolette.  Winning the Atlantic Division, earning that Prince of Wales Trophy, and taking home ice would be nice, but it’s not the end game; winning a Stanley Cup is.

And you don’t do that in shootouts.

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In defense of Ilya Bryzgalov

There isn’t a hotter topic in the Philadelphia hockey world than that of Russian netminder and apparent philosopher, Ilya Bryzgalov.

Bryzgalov, 31, was signed this past offseason to a “humongous” deal, to the tune of nine years and $51 million.  A former second round pick by the Anaheim Ducks, Bryzgalov had been a stellar goaltender throughout his first five seasons, posting save percentages of .907, .920, .906, .920, and .921, respectively, for the Ducks and the Phoenix Coyotes.

Those numbers were plenty good to compel a franchise that hadn’t had a consistent presence in net since the late 1980’s to acquire the veteran goalie, who was brought in to do one thing: win the Stanley Cup.

We know that Bryzgalov is a stellar goalie, regardless of what many fans and writers on the internet would like you to believe.  Is he Tim Thomas or Henrik Lundqvist?  No, but he’s not that far below that upper echelon of goalies, either.  He’s certainly a (very expensive) step up from a combination of a Brian Boucher, Michael Leighton, and Sergei Bobrovsky goalie carousel.

This year, however, Bryz has not been the $51 million presence between the pipes that everyone hoped would lead this Flyers team to their first Cup in more than three decades.

Through his first four games of the season, Bryzgalov posted a very nice .927 save percentage, including a shutout in the second game of the season, which happened to be one more shutout than the Flyers posted all of last season.

If Bryzgalov was brilliant in his first four games, he was the polar opposite in the next four, posting an .802 save percentage.  The roller coaster was rolling, with Bryz posting a .944 save percentage over his next six games.  While he seemed to be back on track after a rough patch, his play said otherwise.  Over the next 16 games, Bryzgalov saved just 392 of 444 shots, for a paltry .883 save percentage.

Through January 17th, Ilya Bryzgalov has posted an .893 save percentage, spanning 30 games and allowing 3.07 goals against per game, hardly the numbers of the elite netminder the Flyers had hoped for.

While looking at the numbers, it seems pretty obvious that Bryzgalov has been incredibly up and down, and wildly inconsistent overall.  When he has a rough game, it’s usually followed up by several more rough games before the ship is righted, and it seems that he then strings together a couple good games again.

Did Ilya Bryzgalov leave Phoenix for Philly and forget how to play hockey during the plane ride across the country?  Of course he didn’t.  The season may be half over, but we have to remember that the 30 game sample we have on Bryzgalov thus far is still a relatively small sample size in the grand scheme of things.  30 games is a fair number of games, but when judging a player, it’s still such a small number.

The Flyers signed Bryzgalov for nine years with an estimated 60 to 70 starts per season.  30 games are simply not enough to judge a player on.  If Bryzgalov indeed does spend the next nine years between the pipes in orange and black, these first 30 games will be roughly five percent of his career in Philadelphia.  Five percent.  Is that really enough of a sample to write him off?

Relax and stop rooting against the guy because you don’t like the contract Ed Snider and the Flyers brass handed him.  Before you write Bryzgalov off, give him a fair shake.

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The “fight,” throwing snowballs at Santa, and changing the image of Philly fans

The 2010 NHL Winter Classic took place in Philadelphia a week ago, and the final score of the game notwithstanding, it was an overwhelming success.

Citizens Bank Park was beautiful, the weather couldn’t have been much better for an outdoor game, the action on the ice was great, and the atmosphere seemed pretty amazing.  Or at least it did from the comfort of my couch.

There was one event, however, that certainly doesn’t deserve one of those lovely little positive adjectives in front of it.

After the game, in which the visiting New York Rangers defeated the hometown Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 3-2, a very ugly and unacceptable incident took place at a Philly staple:  Geno’s Steaks.

I won’t get into the details of the video, as I’m sure you’ve seen it by now if you had any interest in doing so.  If by chance you haven’t, basically three guys in Flyers jerseys attacked a New York fan, as well as his friend when he tried to intervene.

What did this Rangers fan do to deserve this?  From what I can tell, he actually went to an opposing city wearing a jersey and supporting his team, which happened to be a rival.  Wow, what nerve!

As a Philadelphia fan that lives in Indianapolis, Indiana, this especially bothers me.  Because of where I live, the majority of the games I attend are in opposing cities.  I’ve been to Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Chicago to watch the Phillies, as well as Detroit to see the Flyers.  With the exception of one game I attended in St. Louis a few years back where the Phillies were beating the Cardinals handily and some fans took exception to me wearing a Chase Utley jersey and cheering for my team, I’ve never had any major incidents.  For the most part, people just want to talk to me about my team or where I’m from.  As long as people aren’t being jerks to me, I’m not jerks to them.  People have enough negative connotations about Philly fans, and I don’t need to make any more of them true.

When things like this “fight” happen, it gives the rest of the country even more ammunition to talk about the kind of horrible people they perceive Philadelphia fans to be.

Stop me if you’ve heard these before—Booing and throwing snowballs at Santa Clause, throwing batteries at JD Drew, booing Michael Irvin as he lay on the field after his career-ending neck injury, drunk guy gets in altercation with a gentleman at Phillies game and vomits on his 11-year old daughter…I’m sure the list could go on, just ask anyone from New York, LA, or basically anywhere outside the 215 area code.  They’ll surely tell you how awful the city’s fans are.

Now we get to add one more to the list:  Three cowards jumping a rival fan while a crowd watched and took videos.

As the list of reasons as to why we’re the “(Insert negative adjective here) in America,” continues to grow, so does the dislike and disrespect from the rest of the country towards the city of Philadelphia and its fans.

As Philly fans, we need to do something.  Next time you’re at a game and there’s a Penguins, Mets, Cowboys, Celtics, or any other opposing fan there, do something to change their minds for the better

Say hello.  Strike up a conversation.  Do the “manly head nod” at them in passing.  Don’t scream “Crosby Sucks!” at the first person you see with a black #87 jersey.

On second thought, scratch that last one.

But in all seriousness, please, don’t give the national media and the rest of the population even more to hang over our heads.  They’ve got enough as it is.

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