Tag Archives: Flyers

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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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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Pronger to have surgery, out four weeks

In a “surprise” announcement, the Flyers have announced that Chris Pronger will have knee surgery and miss four weeks.  Pronger had already missed the last three games with a “virus.”

There are two ways to look at this:  It’s either a devastating blow to an already dinged up Flyers team which now loses their top defenseman, or that this was inevitable and it’s better for this to happen now rather than in March or April so that hopefully Pronger will get (and stay) healthy for the final half of the season and the playoffs.

Personally, I think it’s somewhere in the middle.

The Flyers are already dealing with numerous injuries, and knowing that the captain will be out for a month or more is certainly bad news.  It sucks, but it’s not the end of the world.  The season isn’t shot because of this.  The Flyers played a lot of hockey last season without Pronger, and they’ll have to do so again this year.

There is always the possibility of a trade, but with the cap situation the way it is, the Flyers would likely have to part with a player such as Scott Hartnell and his $4+ million salary to gain the flexibility to make a major move.

It looks likely that Flyers fans will get to see a healthy dose of Marc-Andre Bourdon and Kevin Marshall over the next several weeks.  Bourdon has played in four games this year, averaging better than 13 minutes of ice time per game.  Through those four games, Bourdon hasn’t really stood out to me, and that’s not a bad thing.  Marshall has only seen action in two games this year, playing just over 20 total minutes.

Over the next few weeks, we should get a better idea of just how much the two rookie defensemen can contribute, and from there we should have a better idea of where the Flyers will go from there.

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Flyers to host Carolina without Pronger, Coburn, Jagr

Tonight, the Flyers will play host to the Carolina Hurricanes at 7:00 pm Eastern.  The Flyers will have Ilya Bryzgalov between the pipes, while Carolina will start Cam Ward in net.

Through 17 games this year, Ward has posted a 3.19 GAA and a .904 save percentage, while the ‘Canes as a whole boast an unimpressive 7-11-3 record and a -21 goal differential.

Things should be set up nicely for the Flyers (11-5-3) tonight at the Wells Fargo Center, but there are certainly some new twists this evening.

The Flyers will be without team captain Chris Pronger, second-line defenseman Braydon Coburn, and first-liner Jaromir Jagr.

Stepping up in their absence will be Kevin Marshall, Marc-Andre Bourdon, and Andreas Nodl.  Marshall and Bourdon will be making their NHL debuts tonight, so it should definitely be interesting to see just what these two formerly highly-touted prospects can bring to the table.

In other news, Harry Zolniercyzk was sent to the ECHL today, in all likelihood to clear some cap space for what is hopefully just a couple of short-term injuries.  With Harry the Z being sent to Trenton instead of Adirondack, it’s likely that he’ll be back with the team soon.

All in all, should be an interesting game against a team the Flyers should beat.

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Obligatory Introduction Post

Basically, I just want to introduce myself and to take a moment to explain just what this blog is. Let’s get started:

So, my name is Matt and I was born and raised in the midwest (Indiana, to be exact.) Anyway, around 1991 or 1992, when I was five or six years old, I was once asked the question, “What is your favorite baseball team?” “The Philadelphia Phillies,” I stated, quite matter-of-factly. Why would a kid living in Indiana, who had absolutely no ties to the City of Brotherly Love whatsoever, answer that the Fightin’ Phils are his favorite ball team? Good question.

As I stated, this was the early 90’s, and the sole reason I chose to be a Phillies fan was because of one man. It wasn’t my father, grandfather, or uncle who swayed me to the Phils. It was a man with a mullet, beer gut, and a .300 career batting average. I came to idolize John Kruk for no real reason, and that eventually transformed into my love of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball club.

So, over the years, my love of baseball grew, declined with the strike and other things that seemed more important to a kid, and then skyrocketed to new heights, and all that time I was loyal to my Phillies. In the first 21 years of my life, I watched my beloved Phillies play in the postseason a whopping one time. Many people would have abandoned ship long ago and picked a new favorite team, perhaps a more local team such as Chicago, St. Louis, or Cincinnati. However, along with being loyal, I’m also a bit (read: extremely) stubborn, and that was likely the sole reason I stuck with the Phils. I made a vow to myself, and perhaps a friend or two, that if the Phillies would someday make the playoffs again, I would get the “P” tattooed on my body, and after the 2007 season, I made good on that promise, which basically means the Phillies and I are pretty much stuck with each other, for better or for worse. It’s kinda like a marriage and we’re in some whacky religion that doesn’t believe in divorce. That’s just the way it is.

Anyway, now that I’ve talked about myself and baseball for a few hundred words and haven’t even mentioned the sport or team this blog is about, I suppose I should get to it. I guess it was the spring of 2008 when I first started watching hockey, or at least started tuning into a few nationally televised games casually. I started following the Flyers because a lot of the blogs and websites I read for my daily Phillies coverage also covered the Orange and Black. A fairly natural progression, I think. The Flyers would eventually be eliminated by the Penguins in the Conference Finals, and my mild rooting interest in the city of Philadelphia’s hockey team started to grow.

It was that summer that I remember mentioning to my best friend at the time, who happens to be my current girlfriend (funny how those things work out), that I was going to become a hockey fan, and a Philadelphia Flyers fan at that. I think she kinda laughed it off as me just talking to hear myself talk, but I was dead serious. That’s pretty much when it started.

Over the next couple of years, I followed the Flyers online, attempted to catch every Versus and NBC game they played, and tried my hardest to find a bar in the central Indiana area that had the NHL Center Ice package. Finally, this year, I broke down and bought the Center Ice package in addition to the MLB Extra Innings package I already buy. (Did I mention how patient and understanding my girlfriend is when it comes to me attempting to watch every single Flyers and Phillies game possible?)

“Of course, Matt, you sound like a big (if not unhealthily obsessed) sports fan. So what?” Well, I’m glad you asked. You see, I really enjoy writing, even if no one really cares to read it. It gives me a way to put my thoughts down on paper, or out on the interwebs, after watching a game. I’ve blogged about the Phillies and I’ve written for another additonal baseball website, but the sport of hockey isn’t something I’ve ever tried to write about. To be honest, I’m still learning about the sport with every game I watch. I’m trying to understand how to actually evaluate a player or a team’s effort in ways other than the final score, goals, assists, and plus/minus. I want to be able to back up what I see and feel with legitimate stats, and not just say “[Insert Name] is a [great/awful] player because I watched the game.” There’s more to it than that, and while you can’t discount everything you see, advanced statistics certainly paint a much clearer picture.

Basically that’s my goal here. I just want to write about the Flyers, and I want to see how my opinions change as I watch games and learn how to track advanced statistics. Eventually, maybe I’ll even be able to provide some intelligent insight, but let’s not get carried away yet.

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