Multiple European sources are reporting that the Flyers have signed 20-year old Swedish speedster Mario Kempe to an AHL try out. Although not considered a top prospect in the system, Kempe is high on the Flyers’ radar and has thrilled in the few training camps he attended.
Reminding many NHL scouts as a young Mikael Renberg, Kempe is one of the quickest players on the Flyers’ farm and plays a downhill style. Despite good size (6-foot-0, 180 lbs), decent hands and adept passing skills, Kempe is notoriously inconsistent, which is keeping him from being a serious player in the Flyers’ system. Matched with Claude Giroux in prospect camp, Kempe needs to improve his two-way game if he wants to be in consideration of any future call up to the big club, something Phantoms coach John Paddock may be able to help with.
Kempe, a fifth round pick in 2007, played two seasons in Canadian juniors before going back to Sweden to further his development. Playing for Rogle Angelholm in the low scoring Swedish Elite League, he scored two goals and eight assists in 30 games.
During the 2007-08 Stanley Cup playoffs, uber Penguins’ fan Steven Mazefsky, like thousands of others, had a jersey customized. But unlike having Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin sewn on the back, Mazefsky had a Flyers jersey customized. With hate in his heart and apparently extra money to spend, Mazefsky had the jersey embroidered with the number 19 and the name “Fartsmell” sewn on, in an attempt to mock Flyers’ forward Scott Hartnell.
” I had this special jersey made so that I could attempt to irritate the subject of my aggravation as much as possible from my vantage point right next to the visitors’ tunnel,” Season ticket holder Mazefsky told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette blog Empty Netters. “Last year, the mission was accomplished!”
With the playoffs quickly approaching, each day brings the reinforced notion that the No. 4 Flyers could very well be paired up with the fifth-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins in a first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. But even after a 3-1 drubbing by the Flyers, in which neither Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby registered a shot on net (first time in two years), the Penguins remain strangely, almost over compensating with confidence.
“If we meet them in the playoffs, I think everyone will be confident that if we keep playing the way we did [yesterday], we’ll be in good shape,” goalie Marc-Andre Fleury told the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
For one of the few times this season, the Flyers have selected goaltender Marty Biron to start back-to-back games. After playing a big part of the Flyers’ 3-1 win over the red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins, Sunday afternoon, and 6-4 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Friday, Biron will be back in net, as he tries to lead his team against the Atlantic Division leading New Jersey Devils.
“Marty is going to play,” said Flyers coach John Stevens. “He has played very well and he looked really solid yesterday. Because it was an afternoon game it gives him a day and a half to recover. Marty is playing his best hockey of the year and it’s good to keep him going.”
Biron, who has elevated his game down the stretch and solidified his hold over the Flyers’ number one spot, is 7-12 lifetime versus the Devils and 15-8 at home this season, but typically has not fared well in double header games.
However, the Devils are also on the tail end of a back-to-back series. They lost an Eastern Conference showdown against the the top-seeded Boston Bruins, 4-1, on Sunday. New Jersey has also struggled on the road of late, going just 3-5 in their last eight games away from the Prudential Center.
The Flyers are nine points behind the Devils for the division and conference, with one game in hand. The Devils are currently first in the division and second in the conference with 97 points. The Flyers stand in fourth place in the conference with 88 points.
Tonight’s game will be at 7 p.m. on Versus.
With 14 seconds left in Friday’s 4-1 victory over the Los Angelas Kings, Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin took a nasty head shot at Kings’ rookie Wayne Simmonds. The hit wasn’t penalized, but the intent has undoubtedly been considered dirty .
The intent to injury by Malkin, with no time left on the clock and up three goals, has spurred the argument that if he does not see a suspension, the NHL may possibly be giving star treatment when it comes to discipline. But before you call for Flyers bias, here is what the Pittsburgh Post Gazette had to say.
“That is deserving of a suspension if you ask us. Malkin clearly went after the player’s head. Additionally, there was less than 10 seconds left in the game. If that’s a Flyer delivering a blow, the suspension is almost automatic. Malkin shouldn’t be exempt because he’s a star player. But the NHL has a game on NBC Sunday to worry about so don’t expect Colin Campbell and company to take any action on this.”
If Malkin is suspended, it won’t be before the NHL’s big Flyers-Penguins primetime match up on NBC on Sunday. And if the league does drop the faux one-game suspension hammer just to keep themselves honest on headshots, it could come as late as Monday. But there is no way, anti headshot crusade or not, that the NHL will keep him out of a nationally televised event.
In response to the lack of aggression and energy shown by the Flyers the past two games, coach John Stevens played Dr. Frankenstein in today’s practice, in an attempt to promote more balanced scoring.
The Flyers moved Danny Briere to a line with Scott Hartnell and Jeff Carter, while Joffrey Lupul was moved to a line with Mike Richards and Daniel Carcillo. Claude Giroux was moved to the top line with Simon Gagne and Mike Knuble.
“The last couple games we didn’t create a lot of chances offensively,” said Simon Gagne. “Sometimes a little bit of change will bring that energy or that thing you’re looking for.”
The Flyers arrived in Buffalo this afternoon to take on the struggling Sabres, Friday night at 7 p.m.
Throughout the 2008-09 season, the Flyers have proven to be notoriously inconsistent, typically following up a Stanley Cup caliber performance with one or two energy-lacking clunkers. And with only three points separating them (fourth-seed) from the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference, the serious lack of energy shown this crucial time of year, has not evaded coach John Stevens, who pointed it out after the Flyers dropped the first two games of a very important four-game road trip.
“We need to skate,” Stevens said. “We’ve got a good group of skating forwards. We need to pursue the puck and be a lot more aggressive, with and without the puck. I didn’t think we did that the last two games.”