Monthly Archives: April 2009

Flyers need more “G” to win

Anyone watching the Flyers – Penguins opening round playoff series, would be hard pressed to say that Philly rookie Claude Giroux, the kid the rest of the players simply call “G”,  has not been the Flyers’ best player.

He is second on the team with two playoff goals and is tied for first on the team in playoff points with four in five games.    As much as the league has been focused on rookie Bobby Ryan, Jerome Iginla and Alex Ovechkin, Giroux has matched all of them in points while getting much less ice time.

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Optimistic Flyers not giving up on series

Down 3-1 in the opening round of the post season, the Flyers would need a miracle to not be eliminated.  But don’t tell the players, who wrongly believe they’ve gotten jobbed out the series thus far and still have a shot.

“We could be up 3-1 instead of down 3-1,” said Flyers’ forward Danny Briere. “But, it is what it is.”

One could argue that the Flyers have  been the better team this series, but lack of consistency on offense, just like down the final stretch of the season, has been a common problem for the orange and black.  Throw in an en fuego Marc-Andre Fleury, and it’s a recipe for early elimination.

“We’re happy about the effort and the urgency but we have to keep going,” Briere said. “We’re not dead. It’s going to be a tough task, but to be successful you have to overcome some challenges. We’re not quitters.”

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Pens can’t touch Timonen’s spirit

Since game one, the Penguins have had the strategy of trying to destroy Flyers’ defenseman Kimmo Timonen, every time the 5-foot-10, 175 lbs. Finn touches the puck.  But however smart the strategy is, Timonen has not been phased.

The hardest hit came early in game three at the hands of Chris Kunitz. As Timonen skated toward the corner to dish the puck, Kunitz came flying out of nowhere and collided with the defenseman’s head, sending him quickly and violently on his back, hitting his head on the ice.  The crowd let out a gasp and Scott Hartnell charged Kunitz for some payback.

But the type of hit that could have easily knocked a player out for the rest of the series, was simply brushed off by Timonen, who continued to play as if nothing happened.

“If he is going into the game trying to hurt me, that’s fine,” Timonen said.  “I don’t really care.  Hopefully, we can do the same things to them tomorrow.  It really doesn’t bother me unless I don’t stay healthy.  I’m fine now.  I’m looking forward to tomorrow, actually.”

Aren’t we all.

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Ovy gets the boot from Rangers’ practice

After losing the first two games at home in their series with the New York Rangers, the  Capitals are desperate for answers.  So much so, that captain Alex Ovechkin was caught attempting to watch the Rangers practice at Madison Square Garden.

After just a few moments of observing, Rangers’ coach John Tororella  asked Ovechkin to leave. The Rangers PR staff offered him a seat in the stands, but he declined, but clearly made a point with the obscure move.

When asked by Capitals’ beat writer Tarik El-Basir about the incident, Ovechkin clearly knew what he was doing.

“Just to get Tortorella pissed off,” Ovechkin said.

When asked why they made him leave, Ovechkin had another gem. “Because they afraid of me,” he said.

Capitals’ coach Bruce Boudreau played the incident off as an innocent mistake.

“I think it was more of a lack of knowing the rules, that’s all,” Boudreau said. “They asked him to leave; he left. He just went out there and he wants to be around the rink. I don’t think he had a pen and paper, writing down line combinations or anything, but I can understand, I’ve gotten into the same arguments with different people when I want privacy in my practice, so I can understand what John was going through as well. ”

When asked about it, Rangers’ coach John Tortorella avoided knowing anything about the situation.

“Oh, God, I didn’t even know,” Tortorella said. “This is the first I’ve heard of it. Ask me a question about the game, not that crap.”

How great is playoff hockey?

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Ross puts Huntsville on the map in NHL playoffs

If someone saw Flyers’ forward Jared Ross in the supermarket, they may mistake him for a bagger or cashier.  But the diminutive 26-year old with a  boyish face and 5-foot-9, 170 lbs. frame has not only played in the NHL, but has done something no one else, big or small, has ever done: Be a native of Alabama and score a goal.

Less than four minutes in the third period of the Flyers – Penguins game three matchup, Ross grabbed an Andrew Alberts rebound and stuck it into the net, giving his team the much-needed insurance goal and 5-2 lead.  The tally was not only the first of his career, but inked him into the record books.  Ross celebrated accordingly.

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Flyers show depth in first win vs Pens

For rookie Claude Giroux, it was a game of firsts.

In front of a national audience in a  must-win postseason game, many youngsters may be timid.  But not Giroux. The rookie out of Gatineau scored his first playoff NHL goal and assist and even had time to get in his first fight, which he won via take down.  Giroux powered the Flyers to a 6-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins and helped notch Philly’s first win in the series.  The Flyers remain down 2-1 in the best of seven and will return to the Wachovia Center, Tuesday for game four.

After the Penguins silenced the Flyers’ big guns in games one and two, they failed to continue the trend in game three.  Jeff Carter opened scoring early in the first period and a few minutes later, Mike Richards tallied on the power play to make it 2-0. The Flyers’ first multi-goal lead of the series.  Simon Gagne netted a shorthanded goal from a beautiful pass from Giroux and rookie Jared Ross scored his first-ever NHL goal for the insurance.  The Flyers had five different players score, one from each line, an both a shorty and powerplay tally.

But the win wasn’t without a scare. With less than a minute to play in the opening stanza, a failed defensive assignment by multiple Flyers led to an Evgeni Malkin goal to cut the Flyers’ lead in half.  The Pens carried the momentum into the second when Rob Scuderi scored from the point, less than a minute into the middle period.

But the Flyers battled back. Giroux regained the lead for the Flyers, burying a perfect pass from Danny Briere, for the 3-2 lead.

Flyers’ fans were absolutely ballistic in what could be the most energetic and exciting game (other than maybe the Montreal – Bruins series) so far in the post season.

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Losing out: Rangers sign BU captain Gilroy

After cutting down his selection to only a handful of teams, including the very interested Flyers, Hobey Baker winner and Boston University defenseman Matt Gilroy, has signed a two-year, $4.5 million, one-way contract with the New York Rangers.  Twice what the Flyers were offering.

The Long Island native and amateur free agent stirred up a great deal of interest after the country watched him lead his Terriers to the national championship.  Gilroy went undrafted because at 18-years old, he was only 5-foot-9 and was considered too small to be a factor at the professional level.  But by the time he reached 21, he was 6-foot-2 and very capable.

Gilroy’s biggest asset is his leadership and character.  He comes from a big family and wears the number 97 in honor of a passed sibling.  On the ice, he has excellent vision and stick handling ability.  He is also good in his own end, which makes him a valuable asset.

Gilroy simply adds to the Rangers’ stockpile of young defensemen, that includes Michael Del Zotto and Bobby Sanguinetti.

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Sbisa in for Carcillo at forward

The Flyers have announced that rookie Luca Sbisa will replace suspended Daniel Carcillo as forward for game two of the Flyers – Penguins first-round series.  Naturally a defenseman, Sbisa has played forward on the fourth line sparingly for the Flyers during the regular season. It will be his first career NHL playoff game.

With Kimmo Timonen and Randy Jones  missing practice on Thursday due to injuries, it makes sense to have your emergency defenseman dressed.  Sbisa is strong on the forecheck and can move the puck.  However, his finishing skills are a bit off.

Sbisa was brought up to the Phantoms after his season with Lethbridge of the WHL ended.  He was then brought up from the Phantoms to the Flyers the instant Philly’s post season began because of salary cap allowences in the playoffs.

Darroll Powe will move to a line with Danny Briere and Claude Giroux.

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Playoff hockey?? Carcillo suspended for game two for gloved punch

In the NHL rulebook, it states that any player engaging in entertaining naughty activity in the final moments of a game can be suspended and the coach of the team be fined.  For the Flyers, it was Daniel Carcillo with the one-game layoff and coach John Stevens with the 10k fine.

In the final minutes of the final period in game one of the playoff series against the Penguins, Carcillo took a faceoff against Maxime Talbot.  Down 4-1 and frustrated, Carcillo’s right glove contacted Talbot’s head. Talbot fell to the ground like he was obliterated by the hammer of Thor.  No penalty was given, but a suspension followed.

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Philabright first round predicitions

Unlike my Aunt, who is a professional prognosticator for Yahoo Sports’ Puck Daddy, I received no such family ESP skill.  However, after following the 2008-09 NHL season from day one, I shall provide some predictions to how round one of the playoffs will play out.  Hopefully it goes better than my March Madness pool.

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